So I just got back from my trip to Birmingham to meet Preston’s family. It was absolutely wonderful, and I figured here would be a good place to recount my travels.
Wednesday, I flew in to BHM around 4:45pm. I had loads of time to kill in the airport because Preston’s flight was delayed and he didn’t get in until around 8:45. So I sampled some Southern cuisine, and by that I mean really expensive airport food. But the lemonade was probably the best lemonade I’ve ever had. Not overly sweet, but not sour either. A really nice balance.
Anyway, I checked the arrivals board and Preston was due in about ten minutes so I headed to his gate. Keep in mind that at this point, he and I hadn’t seen each other in over six weeks. I was very anxious to see him, and when I saw his plane pull into the gate, I stood up and straightened out my clothes and smoothed out my travel-worn hair. A young teenage girl saw my prep and watched on in interest. As soon as I saw him, I couldn’t stop the smile that burst forth. The teenage girl got this look on her face that clearly said “I am about to witness the climax of a romantic film in real life.” I trust we didn’t disappoint her with our greeting.
We called our ride, and went down to meet him. A few minutes later, Preston’s best friend Kyle and Kyle’s wife, Amy pulled up and my list of new people to meet began.
Kyle and Amy were incredibly friendly and easy to talk to. I told Kyle that I knew his friend Ryan Brown (who happens to be my good friend of 14 years, Shanna Brown’s brother) and his mind was blown. I then blew his mind again when he discovered I’d never been to a Waffle House. So we went to Waffle House. There I met Preston’s friend Grady (I believe that’s his last name…I never did figure out what his first name was as everyone calls him Grady…it may have been Matt?) and like a good tourist, I ordered a Waffle, a bowl of grits with cheese, and a glass of sweet tea. It was all delicious. I’m a huge fan of sweet tea now. Over our late dinner we talked about nerdy things: Harry Potter, Magic: The Gathering, and mostly about Doctor Who. Then they drove us to Harlan’s house, which is where we were staying for the week. On the way there, Amy told me that I was friend-approved because I’m nerdy. Woo hoo!
When we got to Harlan’s, she and Jeff were waiting for us. Jeff is Preston’s dad and Harlan is his new fiancée. I was greeted with hugs and some delightfully thick Southern accents. We chatted a while, and I discovered just how well my nerdiness would serve me this week as Jeff is also a nerd of sorts. He loves that I love to read, and he adored when I made a Star Trek reference. Then he found out that I like to bake and I think in that moment he was sold.
The next day was Thanksgiving. I met Wesley, Preston’s younger brother who had driven in around 6 that morning. He, Jeff, Preston, and I all played Star Trek Catan and then they taught me how to play Canasta. Though I didn’t win, they were confident I’d do alright with the extended family on Saturday. We Skyped with the boys’ mom who is in South Dakota working right now, so I briefly met her and then it was time for dinner. Harlan’s daughters, Caroline and Sarah joined us, as well as Sarah’s girlfriend Camille. It was not a large group by my standards, but that didn’t prevent the 20-pound turkey or the vast cornucopia of food options. There was sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, squash casserole, lima beans with bacon, dressing (but not stuffing, apparently that’s a Northern thing), rolls and of course the Turkey with gravy. Not wanting to be rude, I tried a bit of everything. I regretted eating so much but everything was delicious! After dinner, Camille revealed her homemade Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie. Oh. My. Goodness. It was so good. I’ve decided my next foray into baking will be pies. There was also cheescake, which I had the teeniest slice of. A food coma ensued. We played another round of Catan after we’d digested a bit, and then a couple rounds of partner Canasta, which is what I would play on Saturday. Preston and I actually beat Jeff and Wesley, but they were playing nice for me, which I appreciated. Harlan was watching a football game and we were all having a lovely time just letting our tummies settle and enjoying some family time.
The next day we slept in a little. Preston, Wesley, and I went to lunch with Preston’s friend Leslie. She was the only one of his friends that seemed skeptical of me, but I think I did alright once we started talking about movies and tv shows. After lunch, we caught up with Jeff and Harland and went to see Catching Fire. I’d already seen it, but it was worth seeing again, especially since Jeff insisted on paying! After the movie, we went back for a dinner of leftover Thanksgiving food and then we went to Kyle’s for a night of Magic, Resistance, and bad movies.
Saturday we woke up a little early (for me anyway), ate breakfast and then we were off to The River! The River, meaning the house Granddaddy owns on an island in the Alabama River, was about a two hour drive from Harlan’s. We were a social bunch along the way, conversation never really dropping. Harlan told us the story of how she and Jeff started dating and how he proposed which made me see where Preston gets his romantic side. We were in the middle of nowhere by the time we got to The River and my nerves were at an all-time high when I got out of the car. I really had no reason to be nervous. Aunt Karen gave me a big hug as I was introduced and everyone was incredibly nice. Then it was time to meet Granddaddy. Preston introduced me and I held out my hand. He shook it, but was giving me a very stern look. Then he said “Well, don’t I get a hug?” My relief was probably very obvious as I gave an enthusiastic “Yes!” and hugged him. He said “Well, how ‘bout that?” and we all went inside. Total that day after Karen and Granddaddy, I met Uncle Jay, Aunt Arlena, Cousin Jessie, Cousin Daniel, and two of Daniel’s friends…uhhh….whose names now escape me. I got a tour of the house and then we walked down to the dock where Aunt Karen’s new speedboat was. We didn’t go for a ride as it would have been quite chilly out on the water, but a couple others did. I played the game of answering questions from everyone, but luckily I didn’t get too many of those since it had been a long time since everyone had seen Preston. He and I then went for a brief walk along the water and then we had our third meal of Thanksgiving food. This one included everything we’d had before plus Mac and Cheese (apparently a tradition in the South) ham, and pot roast.
After the late lunch, Preston and I sat outside with Granddaddy and chatted a bit, he asking me a few more questions and catching up with his incredibly loving grandson. It was very clear to me that though Preston is not home very often, his entire family loves him very much, and he them. You don’t need to be close to be loving and supportive.
Not long after, Harlan came out to tell us (well, mainly Granddaddy) that the game was starting. THE game. Alabama v Auburn. It was very entertaining to watch most of the family cheer for Alabama while Jeff and Harland are diehard Auburn fans. During the game, Preston and I faced off against Aunt Karen and Wesley for a Canasta game. She’s probably the best Canasta player in the family, and Wesley is incredibly lucky ALL the time. Needless to say, we lost. However, we went down fighting. Everyone said they were impressed with my ability to keep up with them, especially considering I had learned the game two days prior. Auburn won the football game in the last second (for football I guess it was a pretty good game) and then it was time to go. We said our goodbyes and drove the two hours back. During the drive, we were chatting and I brought up some nerdy YouTube channel I’m subscribed to and Jeff looks at Preston and says, “Preston, you ought to marry this girl.” We kind of laughed it off, but it made me feel really great, and I know it made Preston happy, even if we are SO not there yet.
We got home, talked a bit more and we said goodbye to Harlan, who would not be joining us in the morning for the drive to the airport. Then after MAYBE five hours of sleep, we woke up at 4am, got to the airport by 5 and Preston made his 5:40 flight with maybe two minutes to spare. Our farewell was rushed, but I think that actually made it easier. We don’t get a ton of time together and he won’t be able to talk much the next couple of weeks because he’s in crunch time with all of his classes.
I then waited in the airport for FIVE MORE HOURS. My flight got delayed and then delayed again. Let me tell you, five hours of Christmas music is a LOT. Despite the delays, my flight was not a bad one, and I made it back safely.
Now it’s back to the grind. I work seven days this month, which is an unfortunately low number, but at least I have work. Preston should be here in about three weeks and then we’ll actually have a substantial amount of time together. Here’s hoping these next few weeks go quickly.
WOOOOOOOOOO Just booked flights to and from Birmingham for Thanksgiving (thanks, mom!)!!!!!! I’m nervous and excited and am already counting down the days!
It’s 41, in case you were wondering.
Aaaaaaghjkajshdfgs things are weird. Re-starting this blog to go back to its original intent which is updating people on my life.
The trip to Ohio was so great. I really needed the break to relax and Preston invited me to Birmingham for Thanksgiving to meet his family! I need to learn to play Canasta, though…..