“Oh holiday, oh holiday, oh how I wish you hadn’t gone this way…”
-a bastardized version of ‘Oh Christmas Tree’ by yours truly
Thanksgiving is a favorite of mine; despite many years of complaining to my parents that I’m always the only girl at the party full of a families who only procreated males, I still love this holiday. This year was different, I elected to fly across the country with my boyfriend to spend the weekend with his family. This wasn’t an easy decision for me, I stewed over it for weeks, spent several therapy sessions monologging my anxieties and discomfort with it; but ultimately I knew that it meant the world to Alex and there’s little I wouldn’t do for him.
We took a redeye out of Sea-Tac at 11:30 pm heading for Boston, MA. Surprisingly I managed to snooze the entire way, waking up only minutes before landing. Running on 4 hours of fitful napping, we made our way to Newbury Port where Thanksgiving prep was in full swing.
After a short nap, I was getting ready for dinner and putting on some makeup when Alex walked into the bathroom to give me the rundown of all the guests. I’d like to say I was paying attention, but I was way more focused on making my eyebrows look even. Halfway through filling in my brow, Alex says, “Oh there will also be Kevin, who’s brought his husband, Kevin.”
“Wait….Did you just say Kevin and his husband, Kevin?”
“Yeah, they’re both named Kevin.”
“…This isn’t a Narcissus situation right? I’m not going to walk downstairs and find a guy holding a mirror flirting with himself, right?”
“Of course not!”
“So… Is there a Kevin 1 and Kevin 2?”
“What about Kevin A and Kevin B?”
“Do we call them ‘the Kevins’? ‘the Kevinii’? How about ‘a pair of Kevins?”
“Oh my god I love you…. I’m regretting this already.”
“YOU SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME BEFORE NOW!”
“Oh no you did not! I would remember if there were going to be two Kevins at this dinner!”
“I definitely told you.”
“Do you honestly believe it took me this long to come up with these jokes if you told me already?”
“You must have forgotten.”
“No I didn’t, you didn’t tell me! I would have already gotten this out of my system! Oh god…. you’re going to have to keep me as far away from them as possible.”
“I think I’ve made a horrible mistake…”
“You’re damn right you did.”
(This is how I remember the conversation. Alex can say it’s all wrong, but this is my blog and liberties will be taken for the sake of hilarity)
Needless to say, I was more nervous now than I was before. Not unlike Lorelai Gilmore, it’s nearly impossible to hold back a good bit when it’s presented itself to me. Enlisting Alex as my alcohol fetcher, I kept a full glass of wine in my hand at all times (as I could not bring my weed to Boston to smoke) and began texting my mother about the situation:
ME: Did he look in the mirror and say ‘I MUST HAVE YOU NOW!’?
MUM: Be good now! Or if you can’t, make an impression.
ME: If I get downstairs and its a guy holding a cardboard cut out of himself, all bets are off… What if the poor guy has multiple personality disorder? Then I could blame Alex for not telling me.
MUM: You are seriously tired.
ME: TWO KEVINS ARE MARRIED! Don’t say you wouldn’t be thinking the same thing!
MUM: Yeah but I don’t know that I would be sharing those thoughts out loud.
ME: I’m not sharing them out loud, I’m texting them to you!
MUM: Well that’s different. Tell me if they dress alike.
ME: Okay so we have Plaid Kevin and Solid Kevin (he’s wearing solid colors).
MUM: Don’t say that out loud!
ME: Alex, bless his heart, is purposefully keeping me away from them.
MUM: Put the phone away and put down the glass of wine. It’s safer that way.
Weirdly enough, I managed to glide through the evening without asking awkward questions or putting my foot in my mouth. I had a wonderful conversation with Kevin (not saying which one because at this point it’s more amusing for me to be the only one knowing which is which) about horses and fantasy hair dye (him and his mother were fascinated by my fuchsia pink locks, courtesy of overtone.co [I use Extreme Pink for those who are interested]). The family had a lovely dinner and later sat down to play a trivia game that involved a lot of shouting (I was too tipsy to remember the name of the game).
Unfortunately, that’s when the holiday took a turn for the unpleasant. I texted my family back on the west coast, who were just gearing up for dinner. I won’t go into detail how it happened, but I ended having a massive panic attack.
I was in Alex’s bathroom crying and wailing, “I’m a terrible daughter! I should be there for them! They need me! I need to be there for them! I left them alone! I shouldn’t have left! I need to be there! I failed them! I failed!” It went on for who knows how long. Alex held me up in the bathroom as I continued to sob and wail about my failure as a daughter. Finally he got my mum on the phone, who talked me down and told me that everything was okay and they were just fine. I calmed down a little, but I was still weepy when the phone call ended. I couldn’t be unconvinced that she was lying to make me feel better.
Alex got ahold of my brother, I sobbed about how I didn’t want him or my parents to be alone on Thanksgiving, how I felt like I’d abandoned them. He promised that they were all okay, that the parents were happy and he was just fine. I still didn’t feel okay.
I went to bed, Alex holding me close as I finally came down from my anxiety high and fell asleep. Then came the second wave….
I woke up around 5 AM east coast time, my stomach was roiling and things weren’t feeling good. I hadn’t eaten much at dinner except for a lot of Duck Confit and many glasses of wine. This has happened before, I eat too much fatty food and drink a ton of wine and get sick. But this time was different.
Fairly quickly my stomach was completely empty and all I could do was painfully dry heave into the sink. Alex had to keep me steady because my body was shaking and my legs weren’t holding me up. I broke out into a heavy sweat but I was freezing cold. Any attempts to keep water or ginger ale down were met with failure. Three hours later, it got to the point where it was becoming clear I was heavily dehydrated and the dry-heaving wasn’t going to stop.
Alex drove me to the ER and I got admitted pretty quickly. As much as I hated needles, I practically cried with relief when the nurse came in with a bag of Saline and anti-nausea medicine. I went in and out of sleep, Alex staying by me the entire time and calling my parents to let them know the situation.
After two bags of saline and an epic new game Alex and I made up, I was discharged with the instruction to stick to gatorade and water for a few hours before going to solid food. Lesson learned: do not eat fatty food and drink a ton of white wine, the combination is toxic (at least thats how it felt).
Finally back at Alex’s family home and relaxing in bed, I talked to my mum on the phone about the miserable 24 hours I had. The panic attack, I now realize, came from a very vulnerable place inside me due to family tension experienced around Thanksgiving the last few years. I’d really gone out of my way to always be there for my parents, so it was really hard for me to be away from them, even though the tension dissipated long ago and we’re stronger than ever.
Mum assured me that she loves me and that I’m now at that age where I have to share my time with other people than just my family. It’s a hard realization for me. I’m not a person who expands their social circle easily, it takes an entire blacksmith team to break and resize the circle for anyone new to enter. I don’t like obligations, even with my own family; to now have to deal with obligations with others is a real struggle and test for me. Most of all, I don’t share myself very easily with people, I like to keep to myself.
I am blessed to have known Alex’s family for a while now, so I was welcomed with warm open arms by them this weekend, and I am so thankful for that. I feel like a goober for having had a panic attack and taking a trip to the ER; I don’t like to think of myself as high maintenance but boy did this weekend prove me wrong.
So I sit here on Saturday afternoon, still contemplating THAT Gilmore Girls ending (seriously though, those were NOT what I thought the final four words were gonna be, but I loved it) and reflecting the lovely moments I had: making Alex’s Papa smile and grin as I listened to his stories and remarked how much more handsome he was than his grandson, watching brand new Gilmore Girls for the first time since I was in grade school (but seriously though……. THOSE FOUR WORDS! I NEED MORE EPISODES!!!!), making up a movie/actor trivia game with Alex that we’re addicted to now (at least I am…), and reconnecting with old friends to discuss Gilmore Girls (seriously…… GIVE ME MORE GILMORE!).
Despite the lows, there have been spectacular highs. Every dark cloud has it’s silver lining, and mine right now is singing “Where you lead, I will follow….”