On the Big Steps, Thoughtfully

Post root canal, I drove home, gingerly lowered myself onto the couch, popped a pain pill and didn’t move. (It was glorious. I watched Breaking Bad and snuggled with the cat.)

I can’t chew on one side of my mouth (it was my chewing side! and my favorite tooth!) for the next month, so eating has been a horrific challenge that plagues me with terror. I called my dentist’s office to see about moving the appointments to get the tooth crowned, and she told me not to worry unless something really big comes out. Great. Now I keep imagining just spitting out bits of mangled tooth. (Graphic, I know. Sorry. I’m like the anti-tooth fairy right now. You want fuzzy images of happy fairies and shiny teeth and money? Ask my five-year old neighbor, who just lost her first tooth. Her view of all things teeth is rather rosy at the moment.)

I spent Friday in bed, covers pulled tight around me, as though nesting would speed the healing process. He drove up to lounge with me. I had gotten up to go get cupcakes and Thai food – pineapple curry, as usual, was the only thing that sounded good. The cupcakes were for him; he has a sweet tooth and who doesn’t love cupcakes? I hadn’t showered – didn’t feel like it – and was a general, grumpy, rumpled mess. I was grateful that he didn’t seem to mind.

Friday night was family dinner. Prior to receiving news that I’d be having the Great Root Canal Adventure of 2012 (and hopefully the only one ever), we’d been planning Friday date night around family dinner. The date night was going to be Mean Girls (he’d never seen it. Who makes it through life without seeing that movie?!), takeout, and Halloween gingerbread house decorating. Instead, it was a 4th date full of grumpy, medicated Katie and 14 members of her family.

Once we’d decided that he was going to come to family dinner (they’re casual affairs, nothing stuffy or overdone), I panicked. As I was throwing clothes around my room, he looked at me – amused, I hope – and asked, “What, you’ve never met your own family before?”

We stopped at Whole Foods (I’ve never been into the one by my mom’s house – I avoid Whole Foods at all costs: they’re pretentious, overpriced, and filled with ridiculous hipster/hippies that make me feel so inadequate and un-hip.) to pick up some bread to bring. He likes this olive bread and I picked out some fruit/nut grainy-looking loaf.

As it turns out, this olive bread is the most delicious thing ever. And now, I may have to brave the onslaught of self-loathing just to get to it. Maybe I’ll affect some sort of hipster swagger, and they’ll never know I’m not one of them. I’ll pay for the loaf, cock my head to the side, do that nod of universal cool, and bail. Once I’m safely in my car, I’ll breathe, open the bag and sniff the loaf of olive bread like Golem hoarding his precious. Totally worth it.

So we arrived, ten minutes late, just as everyone else was arriving. In the taking of the coats, I lost him for a few minutes. The first five minutes were rough for both of us. I was in my typical, “if I avoid it, it’s not really happening” mode, and he was overwhelmed. I get that. It was the fourth date. We’re talking about a step that usually doesn’t happen until you’ve been together for a while. A long while.

I have a thing about bringing guys home to meet my family. For me, it can be a total deal breaker. My family is a big part of my life, and if I’m with someone who can’t handle that, then I’m forced to re-examine my relationship. I’m serious, it’s been the final straw for a few relationships. I need someone who’s not just going to stare at his plate and check his phone, wishing he was somewhere else. I need someone who’s going to engage and be fully present.

As far as I’m concerned, he knocked it out of the park. My uncle, whose opinion is very important to me, pulled me into the kitchen at one point during the meal and said, “This one’s a keeper. We want someone just like him. Even if he’s not the one, you’re on the right track.” It was so nice to have such strong validation.

He talked, he ate, he was generally adorable. He later told me that he was terrified going into it, but that he had a great time, loved the family, and wouldn’t have chosen to spend his night any other way. He told me, jokingly, that he hoped that they liked him because they’re going to be seeing a lot more of him. That made me happy. Really happy.

I met his friends last night. I drove down to him (an hour away) and got to see his office (!!) before we met his friends for dinner. I was nervous (I had no right to be, I was meeting one couple and he had just met 14 people), but they were wonderful. It was a really great evening, although it ended too soon because I had to drive back to Denver to sleep before work this morning.

So, things are moving quickly. But we’re being reasonable and rational. There’s plenty yet to come, and plenty of big things that haven’t happened yet. I know that jumping into things is my specialty, but this feels different. This feels somehow familiar. My mom commented that she felt like he’d been there before. I agree. This is so new, but it feels like forever. We’re on the same page. And I like it.

The Halloween card he mailed me didn’t hurt, either.

(You can all go vomit up love emotions now.)

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