Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Love Story #2: Date Night

Shelby proposed after 9 months. We married 9 months after that. Nine months later, I became pregnant. Per tradition, after 9 months, our son was born.

Compared with other couples, my husband and I had a relatively short courtship. No years of lazy brunches and weekend road trips stretched behind us. Instead, we tried to elope on our second date, but we couldn't find any flights to Vegas. Thusly thwarted, we locked ourselves in the unisex bathroom of a hipster speakeasy and kissed as romantically as two people can kiss after they've both drunk a hipster speakeasy's worth of cocktails and tried to elope to Vegas on their second date. Otherwise, until we could make things official, we took turns commuting between Shelby's home in Virginia and my home in Maryland. We cursed our way through hours of D.C. traffic just to spend a night ordering Chinese takeout and watching DVDs. 

Third date
Now we have a 3.5-year-old. At last, Shelby and I live in the same state, but our son is a kind of human I-495 -- loud, dangerous, unpredictable, and always at a standstill when we're in a hurry. If dinner is scheduled for 6:30, our son will need to sit, fully nude, on the toilet at 6:28 while being read to from My First Outer Space Encyclopedia. We may not be driving, but there is still a lot of cursing. We may be covering fewer miles, but on a typical night, the distance between my husband and me is sometimes greater. One of us is doing the dishes while the other is putting our son to bed. One of us is grocery shopping while the other is at the office. One of us is taking out the trash while the other is going through mail. One of us is on one end of the couch. One of us is on the other end of the couch. 

But then there is date night, amazing date night, like a wide open road to anywhere. A babysitter or a grandparent or an aunt or a friend swoops in to keep our son blissed out on fruit snacks while Shelby and I reclaim us. Sometimes we dress up. Sometimes we go on an adventure. Whether I'm wearing flats or heels, though, I make a point to hold Shelby's hand or to take his arm as I walk. There is no preschooler about to dart into an intersection, about to eat the candy he found stuck to the sidewalk. My husband and I relax. We lean into each other.

Inevitably we talk about our kid: how he is awesome and weird and sometimes awful and hilarious. But this is a kind of palate-cleansing routine. By the time our drinks have arrived, let's say, the conversation has moved on. Or, in some cases, moved back. We cover the territory other couples may have scoured years ago: What did you want to be when you grew up? ("A fashion designer." "An actor." "A doctor." "A member of a SWAT team.") How many times have you been in love? ("Like out of 80 relationships?" "Eighty? You've had 80 relationships?" "Maybe I'm setting the bar low for a relationship." "Yeah. I think you might be." "Well, I married you." "Yes, yes you did.")

There is always at least one moment during date night when my husband's face comes into total focus: his dark brows, his sea glass-colored eyes, his golden skin. I feel nervous. He chose me? He chose me.

Lost count date
Some dates nights find us wading waste-deep into raucous political debates. Other nights, we hunch together and talk about God and the universe and let fear and awe and hope bounce between us like reflected light. Then there are the times when we go to a bar and drink beer and yell, "Eat it, loser!" down the sandy length of the shuffleboard.

At the end of the night, within a moment of walking back through our front door, we ask about our son: "Did he use the potty? Did he break anything? Did he bite, kick, hit, or lick anything?" Like a couple of Cinderallas, we are turned from Shelby and Jess back into dad and mom. But when we climb into bed, we sleep closer together -- his hand around my waist or my head against his shoulder -- so that, wherever distance may be, it is not between us.


  1. It's only Tuesday, and already I'm having such a good week with you!

    For Byron and me, date nights have always been "fine." Maybe we didn't do them with enough regularity, but I have to say there was always too much weight placed on those few hours to be MEANINGFUL, and as a result, they felt kind of flat. Fine. Fun enough. But the greatest glories of our relationship always have come when unplanned. You and Shelby make me smile -- because you redeem the concept of the date night for me.

  2. Laughter. For me, date night is defined by laughter. And after 4 full days of marriage, I'd like to put it in writing that I hope that's how it always is.

  3. Another great read, today is my wedding anniversary been married 32 years today

  4. I told my husband about this post.....he said "What's a Date Night". Enough said.