Believe it or not, the awesome doesn't stop there.
Tonight was supposed to be Gia's family-specific birthday celebration, at her parents' place. Her mom and her sister conspired to surprise her by secretly inviting her friends. I brought Dexter, and another friend of ours came as well. We arrived after the party had started, during an interval when Gia's sister had lured her, Eric, and Bee out of the house. We snuck in and hid in the living room until they came back in.
She squealed in shock and delight when she saw us, especially when she noticed Dexter, who she sees pretty rarely. She actually seemed a little overwhelmed, but regained her composure after a few minutes. We ate and drank and talked and talked and talked. I chased Bee around the house and made up little games to make him laugh -- his laugh is just the most pure and amazing thing.
While I'd already given Gia her birthday present last night, I hadn't yet given her her holiday present, so I took the opportunity to do so. It was something very personal, very specific to her interests. Moreso than I'd even realized, as it turns out. She almost didn't know what to do with herself, she actually sat on the floor next to my chair and leaned against my leg as she contemplated it (a bit of role reversal there!). The look on her face when she looked up at me, I can still see it now. It was just this look of pure love and appreciation, gorgeous and touching. She looked down and said in a shy voice that she didn't know how to react to so many people loving her so much and knowing her so well. I kissed the top of her head and told her that she'd earned it.
It's a memory that I'm going to hold in my heart -- sitting in that dining room, at a table with Gia, Eric, Dexter, and Bee, talking and laughing, drinking beer. Easy conversation, interesting and free-flowing, building on each other's thoughts. Eric and I making funny side comments to each other, just for our own amusement. Gia glowing at all of us.
When we were leaving, she kissed me on the lips in front of her family, and told me that she'd miss me during the four days I'll be away (I'm going on a short trip with Davis and his parents). It was a lovely thing to hear, and a bit surprising -- we go four days without seeing each other regularly. I told her, very honestly, that I'd miss her too. What I really wanted to do was just slide my fingers into her hair and kiss her again, and again, and again -- but that might have been a little awkward for the relatives.