David and I went out the other night on what many of us crotchety, weather-beaten, tired, thirty-something-with-kids types like to call “date night.” I refuse to call it a date night, because no matter how I look in this avocado-smeared t-shirt, I’m cool, man. And even though David and I only go out with each other alone, at night, without children, maybe once every four months, the old-fart couple label is not us, man. We’ll never be like that.
(Give me a sec. I gotta go run this diaper bag out to my minivan…)
Flash back to a Friday night, 7:15 p.m., in the precious few moments after bedtime and before Cian figured out that we were still home and woke from his tentative slumber to holler for somebody to love him, already. I was in the bathroom, using the curling iron and mumbling about how no wonder I never do this anymore because it takes so much damn time. David was ironing his clothes in the bedroom next to me, and as we talked through the open door, I couldn’t help wondering if I could even remember what it was like to get ready without him hearing me brush my teeth, or giving advice on what shirt he should wear. And then I started making mental note of everything we discussed in those rushed ten minutes. Because, well, this is us:
- My nursing bra. More specifically, the nude-colored triple-hook bra with a busted snap that I was wearing that night.
- Children’s books.
- Quinn’s possible UTI, and a suggestion to call the doctor.
- The Hilton Chicago.
- David’s dress shoes.
- Clean-sheet day.
- A comparison of that dark blue, striped, button-front shirt to the other dark blue, striped, button-front shirt.
- The temperature outside.
- Chicken stock.
- Our new ironing board cover.
I shook my head. Ten years of marriage, three children, and we’ve come to this. I dug out my awesomest high-heeled sandals and strapped those puppies on. We went to a really nice restaurant that used to be an old row home, one of those cool little places that made us remember that we didn’t always have to drive into the city from the suburbs. We ordered cocktails and oysters and entrees that involved things like pistachio gremoulade and honeyed figs. When offered a first course of pasta made with squid ink, calamari, and octopus, I insisted we order it, mostly out of spite, because dammit, I was still under the idea that we are NOT those people–we are not lame and old and set in our tiny little ways–and by golly (hip people can say “by golly,” okay?), we’re gonna eat some squid ink-flavored pasta to prove it once and for all. Because nothing says “I still got it” like a pile of spaghetti covered with slimy black goo.
We had a really good time that night. We talked about the kids, of course, and about David’s upcoming trip to Chicago for work. We talked about his new position, and my writing, and the kind of house we want to buy next. We talked about how hard it is to stay on top of it all, what we’ve done well, what we need to change–in life, in parenthood, in marriage, because you know, there’s always something–and what we want to do next. We discovered that squid ink really tastes how you think it might taste, and that black pasta sauce stains when it splatters onto a dark blue, striped, button-front shirt. David decided that Manhattans aren’t as good as a nice craft beer on draft, and I discovered that I’m at a point in my life where half of a dirty vodka martini makes me chatty with servers. We weren’t pretending to be people we aren’t, we all know that. It felt like old times, just a bit more special (minus the scary pasta). We have a family, and busy days, and feel lucky to duck out by ourselves when we can.
Who needs squid ink anyway? We have each other, even if most Friday nights are spent not tucked into a cozy two-top, but watching a movie in the basement until some pint-sized child comes down to ask for another sip of water. I’m not taking any of that for granted, ever.
Besides, at least my shoes still looked good.