Sunday, January 27, 2013

When "happily ever after" involves a burrito and sitting in the parking lot of a movie theater

Steve is in the thick of his "busy season" at work.  It's an official period that spans a couple months, and I pretty much plan on not seeing him hardly at all.  7 days a week of work.  Home around 1AM some nights.  I'm excited if he texts and says he might be home by 10pm.

I have nothing to whine about for all of this.  Really and truly, it's okay.  We knew what to expect going into a Big 4 accounting job, there's an end in sight, he gets 5 weeks off during spring and summer, etc etc.

I also see it as the time to do things that are trickier with him around, like bury my nose in a book for hours at night.  Or watch chick-flicks that I save for nights he works late.  As Netflix calls my movies: "cerebral romantic dramas." Steve is willing to watch them, but doesn't love them.

But when an unexpected weekend off came for him this weekend (some project stage was complete), the kids and I were FREAKING OUT with joy.  We've missed him.  I planned a date night last night, and we were going to do something crazy-fun.  We had no idea what that really meant -- and even as I was curling my hair, we were still discussing what would be crazy-fun.  We didn't want to see friends; we just wanted to be together.

Here, people, is what we finally ended up doing on our time together:

- Went to the gas station to get fuel and buy Kleenex.
- Went to Target to buy a space-heater for Victoria's room.
- Stopped at DSW, to see if they had shoes I needed.
- Burlington Coat Factory, to show him the oddly-trashy-and-extensive lingerie section I found there. Burlington COAT Factory?  Selling French-maid teddies for $9?  He had to see it to believe it.
- Drove around a bit, deciding if we should go into the city and get cocktails and dessert somewhere fancy.
-Stopped at a Redbox to get "Frankenweenie" for the kids to watch this morning, hoping we'd get to sleep a few extra hours.
- Debated looking up movies on Fandango, and catching a late movie.  Les Mis?

END RESULT:

- We bought burritos at Chipotle, just as they were closing at 10.  Drove to the movie theater parking lot. And sat there eating burritos and talking for several hours.

Had my 18-24 year old self read this, I would have cringed to think that some day, I'd be So Married that we wouldn't be able to think of something crazy-fun to do with each other.  Sitting in the front seat of my Sienna with my partner of 16 years, eating burritos in my fancy "date night" shirt and tight jeans...well, isn't that in some ways the ultimate defeat of romanticism?

But the laughing!  Sitting there, eating my burrito with Steve, honestly ranks as one of the greatest nights I have ever had.  We talked about memories, shook our heads in wonder at these three little people we made together, talked about getting old, and pretty much everything in between.  There were about 97 different ways we talked about HOW GRATEFUL we are that we found each other. How absolutely lovely these years have been together, and how efficient to bundle our best friend into our spouse.

On one level, we can definitely do better on our date-night planning.  A real restaurant or something.  But then again, maybe not.  Maybe we should just embrace that the mere presence of each other really can be enough?

Last night, I talked about how "happily ever after" was such a misunderstood phrase.  Picture Cinderella and Prince Charming in 10 years, and no one would swoon if they saw them sitting in their Sienna's front seat eating $6 burritos on date night.  But if they knew the deeper layers of it, the warmth and contentedness and security behind those moments, then maybe it would seem like the fairy-tale moment.

It did to me.