Aside from the introductions and polite questions about work and the military, someone listening in to the dinner and brunch the Not Boyfriend and I shared with my brother and his family would have not guessed it was the first time we were all together. It was easy and calm and all the things you hope when men you adore have an inaugural hand-shake.
I chimed in to the conversation here and there, but it was hard to take my eyes and attention and tickling fingers away from my nephew.
"I need lipstick!" he called out, running to me in tiny-sized New Balance tennies while I put gloss on my own lips.
And even though he refused to add his own feet to our traditional shoe photos, later he decided it was time.
"Aunt Jessie," he said emphatically, holding his sneakers up toward me, "now take picture of my shoooooes."
Oh, how I love being called Aunt Jessie.
While my brother and the Not Boyfriend discussed my brother's complicated engineering projects, my nephew and I donned ladies' sunglasses and lip gloss, posed for silly-faced pictures, practiced the word "disgusting" over and over, and snuggled in a booth until he absolutely, positively had to sit on his mommy's lap to lick the ketchup off of his hamburger bun.
The next day, when he defied my many attempts to take his picture while he was already pouting, I just loved on him more. The four of us -- my brother, his wife, the Not Boyfriend and me == laughed at the orneriness we all relate to, gave hugs and said goodbye too soon.
I wasn't sure what to hope for this meeting. But it was as it should be and I happy there will be more of this as our lives wind together in the months ahead. Next time, though, Lil E will make the whole scene complete.