familia / how to know when you've become a member

This last weekend, la familia got together and we had such a good time that I told myself I'd write about it.  The thing is, we always have a good time and this weekend wasn't really any different from before, which is special in its own way.  Not ever family is like this and I'm so used to the way we interact and how we are with each other that I forget to notice the little things, but this particular day served as a great reminder.

Brandon and I texted Mamita and let her know that we'd be about an hour late, joking that "...it should be ok; every one's always late, anyway."  Well, I sort of forgot to mention that, about a month ago, we had started a new Paleo  diet  lifestyle and that it's been really working for us.  Anywho, we got there (first), and everyone swam while Brandon and I watched Switchblade, 'cause I'd never seen it before, and then it was time to eat.


We explained to Mamita the limitations of our new lifestyle and how, though I would gladly cheat and partake in the delicious food she'd made, Brandon would not.  He told her not to worry about it, whispered to me that he'd just wait 'til afterward to grab some grilled chicken somewhere, then sat back down to continue feeding his Jetpack Joyride addiction on the iPad.  Mamita, on the other hand, would never let anything like that fly.  With all the speed and sneakiness of a mother-ninja, she began cooking something else specifically for Brandon and holy globs did it smell great. Everyone else noticed, of course, and started lining up to serve themselves, but Mamita turned them all away - no one was allowed to touch that particular dish until Brandon had served himself.

Now, in reading this, I know that a lot of my close friends are going "Well that's not surprising - we'd all do the same thing," and it's true and I absolutely love you for it.  However, the truth is that some families out there wouldn't.  Some families out there aren't as open-minded as mine and not every gay guy is able to introduce his better half to the family as the better half, much less have him over for dinner and have mom make a special meal just for him.

And way back when, he was nervous about meeting her... ha!

Remember when we met?  It was the 29th of December, just a few days after Christmas... and a couple of days before New Year's.  Naturally, I invited him to celebrate the holiday with my family, because all of his family was back in Georgia and I didn't want him to spend it alone.  Also, we'd just shacked up, so if I was going to a party, it didn't make sense for me to go alone.  Brandon, therefore, got to meet my entire Mexican family all at once.

All of them.  I'm not just talking the usuals, typically consisting of two uncles, an aunt, a cousin, my brother, my grandmother, my mother and each of their immediate families.  New Year's is one of those holidays where the extended members come out to play.  I mean, I honestly don't even know all of their first names.  There were cousins of cousins wearing cowboy hats, orange leather boots and matching belts, and what we like to call tan-tan music, because we don't want them to feel left out, but they won't dance to boogie music with the usuals. That was the day Brandon got to meet everyone, but he made it through unscathed!  Terrified, but unscathed!

I remember sitting together for dinner that night when both my Gramma and tia Shivis commented on how much of a super cutie Brandon was and how lucky I was to have snagged him.  My tios immediately took to Brandon, too, 'cause he was the supercool nephew that Josh and I never were - he could quote Tombstone along with them, talk cars and sports, etc.  But Mamita just smiled politely and welcomed him as she would any friend of mine.  See, she didn't know anything about Brandon except that I'd immediately moved in and almost flown off without telling her.

Every one's always taken a quick liking to Brandon, though, and my mother never stood a chance against those baby-blues of his.  He'd ask me, "How will I know if your mom likes me?" and I would reassure him that there was no way she couldn't: "She always compares my brother and me to each other, not because we're not as good at something or whatever, but because the other one is setting a better example.  One day, she'll do the same with you.  You're the better of all of us! You're a master-level chef, you've lived alone, and you've accomplished a lot for someone your age.  You'll see."

A short time later, we're all hanging out one day, when Mamita casually says something like "Ay, Givito" (that's me), "you need to help Brandon cook sometimes!  You can't let him do all the work."  And it was done.  He immediately gasped and looked at me, face beaming, knowing that with those few words, she'd officially made him an honorary Mexican and cemented his place within my family's hearts for all eternity.

la familia playing LoterĂ­a together


how we spent our mini-vacation

So, hubs actually had a couple of weeks this summer where he wouldn't be out marching and roasting in the Texas heat.  Last year, he was working 2 jobs and on the few days when he wasn't teaching/melting , he was working at the library; poor guy went until almost Thanksgiving before he ever had a single day off.

Since this year was different, I decided I'd ask for some time off from work to spend with him.  We were unsure of what we wanted to do, if anything, but figured we'd spend it just as happily lounging around the house fully-clothed (*le wink*).  Actually, with the fall of (part of) DOMA, we were considering running off to another state to get married, but with all the wibbly-wobbly information out there about federal laws saying one thing and state laws saying another, we decided instead to take a quick trip to Georgia to visit my in-laws.  I say quick, because we did, in fact, spend most of the week lounging and enjoying our time not doing much of anything before said trip.

Luckily, our amazingly fantastic friend, Traci, allowed us to steal her away from her weekend plans and lock her up in our house with the fur-babies - one of whom is insane.  She was so wonderful: not only would she send us texts every morning and night to let us know that they'd all eaten or gone to bed, she would also send us the occasional video of them during the day, showing us how happy and completely not-dead they were.  It was awesome.  There are even pictures of Lebowski cuddled up with her!!  It very well may be that our cat isn't evil or bloodthirsty at all; Lebowski may just prefer the company of women.

Tough break, kid.

The trip itself was great.  Well...I can easily say so, since I didn't have to do any of the driving, but Brandon's a pretty strict rule-follower; since he was the only one that signed for the car, he's the only one allowed to drive it.  I tried helping him stay awake as long as I could but I kept zonking out every now and then.  I'm pretty sure it's a natural rule or something that if I'm in the passenger seat, I must completely entrust my life to the driver, so my body just naturally does its thing.  I did start playing a 6 degrees-esque celebrity game with him, once we were close to Atlanta and he didn't think he'd make it. He shook off the sleepies and beat me mercilessly, of course.  The lovable jerk.

Mississippi River
I didn't take many pictures of the actual drive.  To be honest, the whole thing looks exactly the same, except for the beautiful river and the awesome steamboats about halfway; it's just a long, winding road through dense walls of dinosaur-shaped-trees.

Kylee, walkin' the walk
Georgia was awesome.  It was great being able to see the family, after not having seen them in so long... so long, in fact, that the 4 year old niece had no memory of me (ouch) and I was only getting to meet baby-Zack for the first time.  They both took to me pretty quickly, thanks to my baby-soothing and kid-like superpowers, so that helped me not feel like total crap.

My only complaint about the trip is food-related, which is the opposite of what Brandon would say.  Without fail, there are certain restaurants that we have to hit up in Georgia.  Not because of their fame, or anything special like that... they're simply restaurants packed with memories and good feels for him.  I joke about how terrible they are often, but it's not inedible or anything like that (so I hope he never takes it personally).

nerdy things I bought...
...that had nothing to do with Georgia
From this whole mini-trip, the thing of greatest import to me was that I was able to finally be myself.  The last time I had the opportunity to hang out with the Georgia-family, I hadn't really found or cemented my place among them.  It's the same blatant feeling of self-consciousness I always have to deal with when starting a new class, meeting new people, or starting a new job - the feeling of having to quite literally decide what aspects of myself I will exhibit.  I don't know why it took so long, honestly, though I assume that the importance of what Brandon means to me alone was enough to diminish my self-confidence among his people to very low levels; I wanted them to love me as much as my family loves him, is all.  But this time around, I wasn't nervous, shy, or quiet; I was obnoxious, I made jokes, I laughed hysterically, I gave hugs (even though they're not really the hugging type), and I hummed to baby-Zack 'til he started falling asleep, which was probably on par with being told "...it's great having another son."

I can't thank you enough, Traci, for helping us take care of the fur-babies.  It allowed me to take this much-needed trip with Brandon, meet my nephew, and feel closer to my second family than I had before.  Brandon and I both learned a lot during those few days out and about, and I think we've taken some important steps to becoming more whole in our own respective ways.  Love you, you're the greatest. <3

And of course, thank you, Brandon, for sharing your beautiful family with me.  You're absolutely the most fun person with whom I could ever want to spend a seemingly endless number of hours in a car.
rain or shine