His mother insisted to both of us separately on the phone that we would be fine, but we just needed some breathing room. We weren't so sure. She encouraged me to come to their house for a couple of days, reminding me that I could continue my Skype classes using their internet. Typically, my in-laws were the last people I'd want to involve in an argument with Alexandre, but I was kind of desperate to talk to people who know him (almost) as well as I do. Sleeping in their giant house in their quiet neighborhood and having the maids cook for me and clean up after me for a couple of nights didn't sound too bad, either.
I checked with Alexandre that he wouldn't feel like I was imposing by hijacking his family during the argument, but he was in grouchy boy mood and was indifferent. (Back story: Alexandre's a Brazilian guy and is therefore very close to his parents. When I first moved to Brazil and when Alexandre and I came to visit his family for the first time, I was very bothered by this weird thing that the
OK, so on the bus I went. Because of people-leaving-the-beach-on-a-Sunday-night traffic, the bus took quite a while, and I didn't get to the in-laws' house until almost midnight. But they were ready. Even though they all had to get up early to go to work, they were sitting at the dining room table waiting for me -- even the typically insuportável sister-in-law! -- with dinner leftovers heated up for me and some juice and water and cake.
It didn't matter that they were tired, or that they had to work in a few hours, or that Alexandre is their first-born son and therefore can do no wrong. I was there and I was in pain and I was clearly in need in some good-old-fashioned family gossip and analysis. Obviously, while they reminded me to empathize a little with Alexandre, they agreed with everything I said on the whole, interpreted Alexandre's behavior the way I did, and reminded me that I'm not crazy and also that he and I do love each other very much and that spats among married couples are normal. The three of them each had helpful things to say, most of which included the fact that our current living situation isn't exactly conducive to a happy, healthy relationship. I went to bed much calmer.
This afternoon around lunch time, I got a call from Alexandre, who'd seen the error of his ways and asked me to hurry up and come home. I said my apologies too, and of course cried a little, because I cry easily. He informed me that he'd already checked into the bus schedule and that I could get a bus home at 7pm and that he'd pick me up from the bus station and could I please come back now?
I went downstairs to tell his parents, who had come home from work for lunch and were now relaxing in their bed and talking. I stood in the doorway and explained that Alexandre had called and had calmed down, too, and was asking me to come back. They smiled and said happy things.
Then his mother patted the middle of the bed, in the wide, white space between them. "Come on," she coaxed, "lay down right here!"
Me? Part of the in-bed chats? I hesitated, but then admitted how comforting it looked. I squeezed in between them, cautiously, but soon realized that it was quite a nice place to be, perhaps how kangaroo babies feel in their mother's pouch on a sunny hopping stroll, and I soon found myself lying on my stomach and merrily kicking my legs in the air.
Alexandre's mother suggested that I stay another day anyway, trying to lure me with visions of shoe shopping and Italian food for dinner. I said it would be better for me to go back sooner than later so Alexandre and I would be able to talk properly, after having had some time to think on our own.
They were so good to me. This isn't a method I'll employ for just any old reason, but it's comforting to know that they'll treat me like family if I need them to.
And, come on, I tattled to the mother-in-law AND I shared a weird in-bed-bonding moment with the parents. Am I Brazilian yet?