Dylan brought his girlfriend, Brittany, home for the first time. Women cycle in and cycle out of Dylan's life, and they have for years now. He hasn't brought them home before, so bringing Brittany home to meet his parents felt like a really big deal, to me at least.
In the days leading up to this visit, I'd been nervously cleaning and dusting, and preparing. I have to say that I'm not awash in self esteem. I can talk the leg off a total stranger, but when it comes to meeting someone who may well be an important person in my life, I get nervous and self conscious and worry about what they think of me, etc. Gave Cara a lot to laugh about.
Long story short, Brittany is lovely. Just lovely. She's soft spoken and funny. She's a night shift nurse at a psychiatric hospital, an intelligent girl. Brianna and Buddy came up Saturday night so that we could all have supper and celebrate (belatedly) Buddy's birthday. I had made up a double batch of pepperoni rolls, which are the ultimate comfort food in my family. We talked and laughed over a long leisurely supper, and it seemed as if Brittany had been with us forever. The other thing that I loved was watching Dylan. He's always been kind of impatient and quick to criticize since he became an adolescent, but I watched him lean back in his chair, laughing, one arm draped lazily across the back of Brit's chair. It felt as if I'd been given my boy back, in a way. I don't know how to describe it really.
Later, Buddy and the very pregnant Brianna left, and Dylan and Cara got the idea to watch an old Disney movie from their childhoods. In fact they were quite enthusiastic about this movie, and so we sat in the livingroom. Brittany and Dylan sat side by side, holding hands, and in the dark, I watched his foot stroke her foot gently. I saw that they loved each other a lot, and it made me happy inside.
I spent a whole evening listening to my family laugh together. I worry about Buddy and Brianna, about the job situation, the new baby, all of it. I've worried about Dylan and his aloneness, and his sharpness. I worry about Cara because she is headstrong and confident and fearless, and I find myself worrying about what that could lead her into on the other side of the world. But Saturday night, I listened to them all laugh and reminisce together and I realized that Buddy and Brianna are choosing their own life. Their life is not my life. Dylan has Brittany, and they both seem content. Cara's intelligence will save her from her stubborn nature. All of us sat around the dinner table, passing bowls and it occurred to me. We had all gone, quite naturally, to our regular seats, Dylan sitting where he'd always sat, right next to Cara, except that their chairs had been moved apart to make room for Brittany. Brianna sat at the end of the table, where she always sat, and Buddy sat next to her, next to me. We all just positioned our chairs to make room for the newcomers, and when we laughed, the newcomers laughed easily too.
It was a family night, and all of us were family...whether we were related or not. Gosh, it was nice.