COLUMN: Re-discovering each other via date nights
My husband and I had a date night the other evening.
Since our kids are gone visiting their grandparents, I decided to take up my friend's offer to go see the Arch Allies group play at the Fun Fest. It was a rare chance for my husband and I to get out.
It had been a while since we attended a concert together; I think the last one was seeing Alice Cooper back in the 1990s. It was rarer still for my husband, as he commented that this was the first concert where he only smelled regular cigarette smoke in the air.
As we listened to the band play songs from Styx, he put his arms around me and we swayed in unison. Then they played "Faithfully" by Journey - a classic slow song I remembered from junior high dances - and I heard my all-time favorite line.
"I get the joy of rediscovering you."
As a teen, the song was great to dance with the high school crush, but the words didn't mean much back then.
Now that I've been married for almost 14 years to a man who travels 85 percent of the time (leaving me with four kids), I can understand that line.
Some of my friends can sense when he's been gone for weeks at a time. I think they see the harried expression on my face or maybe the fact that my voice is a little hoarse from yelling at the kids.
Actually it's gotten to be quite routine now. He's been traveling ever since the kids were little and we lived in another state.
I still remember a time in February when he called me during an ice storm and I was frantically trying to keep order with two toddlers and a baby in a cramped two-bedroom duplex. He was in Florida at the time, and he was complaining to me that since the parts that he needed didn't show up, he couldn't work that day.
So he told me that he passed the time reading a book on the beach before heading back to his clean hotel to order a delicious dinner via room service and watch a movie he'd been meaning to see.
Let me tell you, if I could've reached through that phone line, I would definitely have "reached out and touched someone."
Thus, we have tried to keep our identities as "husband" and "wife" rather than just "mom" and "dad." It's getting easier now that the children are older -- we can just feed them a pizza, give them the TV remote and sneak out.
I used to imagine date nights with my husband should consist of dressing up, candlelight, wine, dinner at a fancy restaurant etc. We used to do that, before we realized exactly why the credit card companies were only too happy to extend our credit/offer another card.
Looking back, we've had some pretty amazing "date nights:" a cruise to the Caribbean, a trip to Italy, a week in Hawaii, ski trip to Denver and even weeding the yard in New Richmond.
For our one-year anniversary, he arranged for us to spend a romantic weekend at the hotel where we honeymooned. Traditional romance was thwarted, however, by the onset of nausea since I was pregnant by then. So we spent the time playing Yahtzee and we had a blast.
Another time we got on his motorcycle and took a trip to Taco Bell -- at 2 a.m.
After selling his beat-up car for scrap, we went to a cheese factory and blew the $45 on dairy products. We still joke about how he sold his car for cheese.
We rode the Amtrak from Kansas City to Chicago for a weekend, just because we had never ridden a train.
We swam with manta rays in the Caribbean, and he had to rescue me when I got surrounded and couldn't swim out.
We rolled the dice and decided to head north for a weekend excursion -- because we could.
We camped in our full-size van as we traveled throughout southern Missouri.
We frantically scrounged in the back seat of the car when we discovered we didn't have enough change for a toll booth.
We've driven hundreds of miles not talking, but just holding hands.
We've watched movies, swam in oceans, shopped for meals, ate in restaurants, camped in makeshift tents, braved the subway, gotten lost in Italy, raced down grocery aisles, explored new cities and vacuumed out the car. All this and more we've shared together.
I admit it hasn't always started out smooth, but there have been enough laughs along the way that that is how I remember them.
We still have a couple more weeks before the kids come home; we'll make the most of the time we have.
So if you see us around town acting goofy and laughing a lot, don't mind us.
We're just re-discovering each other.