Scott and I had dinner together on Friday--a date night for the two of us, and part of Scott's birthday present. The other part of his present was free license to visit three D.C. record stores, all within a few blocks of the Indian restaurant where we had dinner--I wanted the record store outing to be sort of like a pub crawl, but for music, not beer. I don't mind record-shopping, although I can think of a few other things I'd rather be doing. As luck would have it, one of the record stores was also a used book store, so I looked through books (and found a copy of this favorite book of mine for $1) pulled up a handy stool and read while Scott sorted through records.
At dinner we talked about things that had nothing to do with the kids. I was tempted, many times, to start a conversation about middle school/charter school decisions and What to Do About Next Year but I bit my tongue. Instead we talked about us, and about where life has taken us (to amazing, scary, unexpected, wonderful places) in the sixteen years since we last ate Indian food there as a couple out on our first date ever, still stumbling over getting to know one another, still tentative, that first-date glow hanging over everything we said or did.
It's easy when you're a parent, and a parent of a child whose needs ask so much of you emotionally and physically (and you find inside of you a strength and resilience you never even knew you had, or imagined you might have, sixteen years ago, when you were just twenty-five, and sitting across the table from each other on that big first date) to lose sight of all the other ways you work so well as a couple.
We talked about roads not taken, and where we'd be today if we hadn't decided to leave D.C. for graduate school. What if I'd taken one of the two jobs offered to me at the place where I worked before Scott and I got married, and moved to upstate, New York? Where would we be now? Was I happy to have traded that working world for the years we spent in graduate school? (Answer: of course) Could we have been city people? (Answer: probably not)
All around us there were other couples--young ones, seated at those tables-for-two on the outdoor patio. The night was warm, and each little table near us seemed enveloped in that same sparkly first-date glow I remembered from years ago. I like to think our table had a glow around it, too: the we've-been-together-for-sixteen-years-and-married-for-fifteen kind of glow; a glow that speaks of a love that has stood the times--not always gracefully, but bravely, and beautifully, too.