HIMMGF–Part 21–Arrival and Thanksgiving

A steaming turkey is served on a plate. The title states, Brit eats Thanksgiving.

Catch up on the first two weeks into my girlfriend’s second American adventure! Read all “How I Met My Girlfriend” posts here.

This year, my friend, Alicyn, took me to O’Hare to pick up Jas on her fly-in. Like many intense excitement build-ups, the reality of the situation felt so far out of reach. I can’t believe this is happening, Al and I had said so many times to each other on the 4-hour drive to Chicago. For moments at a time, I lost myself in the blur of leafless trees and patches of snow, phasing in and out of Taylor Swift’s entire discography, and finding myself on any midwestern road trip. Until my mind refocused: I’ll see her so soon. Al would say, “I’m so excited!” my smile would beam, and I would agree.

After seven-dollars-worth of toll roads, I co-piloted Alicyn into a terminal 2 parking lot like a professional with zero wrong turns. When we arrived inside the airport, asked for directions, went the wrong way and passed by the same man who gave us directions, I realized that I read terminal 2 for Jasmin’s departure terminal in London, not her arrival. My mistake forced a shuttle detour to the other side of the airport for international air traffic.

The mistake also meant that we barely had to wait for Jas at the arrival gate at all. She made it through border control in record time. Al spotted Jas first through the doors opening and closing, her lavender hair standing out. I waved my arms up and ran around to the side of the barrier when she waved back. I hugged her quickly when she came through, took her backpack, and moved a suitcase out of the way.

“I thought this was gonna be emotional and I was going to cry,” Al said. She towed Jas’ largest suitcase to the shuttle. “But you just said ‘hey’ and that was it.”

Our reunions lack Hollywood theatrics. Too many people at the gate make long reunion moments awkward displays, especially when it clogs the flow of traffic from gate to exit. Our only moving meetup was our first, when I hadn’t noticed Jas at the gate lineup and walked far down the terminal hall before she caught up with me, away from a gathering of people. Our hug then lasted an eternity, unbroken by the fear of inconvenience or performance. When Jas flew into the States in 2017, I kissed her a quick hello. In 2018, I hugged her and almost started crying as I recounted the border control debacle. Now, another brief hug and a move out of the way. The Hollywood theatrics are strictly reserved for departures, where pain overcomes performance anxiety or the possibilities of watchful eyes. We both sob–as expected–every time.

I didn’t stop looking at her in every small moment. Standing on the shuttle back to our parking lot. Glances in the backseat of the car as she dozed off between Taylor tracks. Cozied up under my freshly finished lesbian blanket with spoonfuls of mac and cheese. No makeup, tired eyes, slouchy clothes, 9-hour-flight exhaustion, and still perfection.

My parents and brother took a 4-hour drive to the west side of Michigan and back to pick us up from Alicyn’s house. I held her hand headed back. We stopped at a Wendy’s, and Jas fell in love with spicy nuggets. We met my sister a few days later, who hugged Jas immediately. Days later, my cousin visited and did the same. “Afterthought,” she called me with a laugh, hugging me after welcoming Jas back home.

Thanksgiving came up soon afterwards, a holiday spent with my dad’s side of the family—a side that Jas had never met. All went well and pleasant. I introduced Jas to the family, who all seemed to embrace her well. It’d been the first time I ever brought a partner to a holiday event before, which fulfilled a 5-year-long dream. My aunt ogled aloud over her accent; we all laughed about it. I know her accent has stronger roots than this muted American version, but the sound still hits me all the same. I knew we wouldn’t spend the whole evening without one drooling comment.

With other new faces at Thanksgiving dinner, two of my cousins introduced their extended family and partner to me and Jasmin, both of which said, “…and this is her girlfriend, Jasmin.” Her girlfriend, her girlfriend, her girlfriend. They weren’t afraid to say the word. I think I set my expectations too low for them: tolerance but an ignored identity altogether. I’d been wrong, and their “her girlfriend” moments remain stamped in my bullet journal in a healing memory.

We did get “friended” twice since Jas’ arrival, which oddly enough happened just after a conversation with my sister a month ago over Jas and I never being “friended” by family before. To my surprise, the first came from my grandma, one whom I spend a lot of time with and had been out to for years. Jas and I teased each other over something trivial, to which Grandma said, “How are you two even friends?” I try not to place much emphasis on this, valuing so greatly the acceptance she has always met me with. But coming from an unexpected person, it did shock me a bit to hear the shift from dating to friends. The second “friend” came from my other grandma, who Jas met for the first time at Thanksgiving. That “friend” had been significantly more expected than the first.

As per tradition with my mom and sister, we all went Black Friday shopping. Even though the deals seem less and less every year, with stores opening earlier on Thursday each year as well, we still start at the crack of dawn Friday for the sake of tradition. First stop: coffee. Jas had been pleased to find that McDonald’s still had pumpkin spice lattes this late in the season. We hit many stores this year and stayed out longer than we ever have in my entire lifetime of Black Friday history. Literally from dawn to dusk, surpassing 12 hours of shopping—a new record.

My sister and I secured gifts for our brother’s Christmas present, and I now have Jasmin’s gifts nearly complete apart from one other item I’m hoping to add. Jas says she also bought me a few things, but she was very sneaky, and I don’t know what they are at all. I was pretty sneaky too for the most part, apart from one item at Ulta. They had a deal on very pretty Real Techniques brush sets, and Jas and I looked at this table at the same time when I realized they only had one brush set left, so I couldn’t hide the fact I was definitely picking that up then and there instead of walking away to find it disappeared upon my return.

We have a lot of exciting things planned coming up this December, including a Friendsgiving event this weekend, holiday lights in Rochester and Greenfield Village, Christmasy activities, and a likely trip to visit my family in Florida just after Christmas. Check for a HIMMGF update in a few weeks!

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Read part 22.

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