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Friday, January 22, 2010

A Friday Night Date










We’re going out on a date tonight, a rare occurrence these days to be sure.
When we were first married, putting ourselves both through grad school and our first years of teaching, we would have thought ourselves poor. Recently reading Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety, the story of two couples, friends and academics, who start out in Madison, WI (we were in Milwaukee), the professor’s words rang true:
“In a way, it is beautiful to be young and hard up. With the right wife, and I had her, deprivation becomes a game…I set up a card table for a desk and made a bookcase out of some boards and bricks. In my experience, the world’s happiest man is a young professor building bookcases, and the world’s most contented couple is composed of that young professor and his wife, in love, employed, at the bottom of a depression from which it is impossible to fall further, and entering on their first year as full adults, not preparing any longer but finally into their lives.
We were poor, hopeful, happy” (p. 16).
But now looking back, we realize how easy that life really was. The extra money that would come in from time to time would go to nights of entertainment. We could spend the money on ourselves, stretching it as best we could, but free to spend it really how we wished.
Because we can’t afford to go out alone often, we’ve learned our own ways to connect and stay close that do not depend upon the ambiance of a coffee shop, cocktail hour, or art theater. We find each other in late-night gab sessions, early morning quiet, and the comfort of standing, sitting, and kneeling in unison at church pew on Sundays. We also work to create a home that brings a peace that is hard to want to part. And so we get those kids to bed early, tag-teaming, helping whoever finishes first, the world’s fastest rendition of Goodnight Moon. Then, turn the lights down, light candles, crack open a bottle of wine and talk and laugh.
When we miss our season tickets to the playhouse, I pull out our matching copies of Shakespeare or my favorite Restoration Comedies to put on our own production.
When we miss the Symphony, he plays the piece he’s been mulling over on his ride to work.
When we miss gourmet, we make our own.
When we miss those old ways when we so easily let our money slip through our fingers on things which do not last, we do without, knowing we’ve got the far better trade.
Where love is, the sacrifice is real and meaningful but it only hurts a bit, as the words from our favorite David Gray song goes,
“If every window pane should shatter
If every wall should fall apart
Well it might hurt a bit
But wouldn't it matter
With this diamond in my heart

…'Cause we're standing face to face
With the Angel of Grace
And don't it just taste so pure”

This sacrifice has brought with it a life held dearer.
And I believe even happier than when we were that couple, young and free and hopeful, just starting out our lives together. This point has recently proven itself in a new study which shows that marriages are happier with children and the happiness increases with each child had (link from Elizabeth Foss though I can’t find the exact post).
So tonight we go out, not to escape the hardships of a house with young children nor to relive the good old days of the past, not out of fear that if we don’t set up a weekly date night our marriage is doomed to fail, but to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the abundance of our simple lives.
He’s made the plans, all a surprise other than that I must dress up. I will wait until he comes home to primp, pluck and perfume, knowing how he loves this ritual. I will spend time deliberating on just the right outfit (you know the one with no spit up on the shoulder or finger prints at the knees). All in hoping that he will recognize and delight in the girl he married over 10 years ago. But perhaps, even better, if doesn’t see that same girl, but instead sees
in the deep creases growing across my forehead, a maturity not there before.
in the sprouting gray hairs, a wisdom he needs and turns to often.
in the softer lines of a mother of three, a softer, more giving heart.
in the scars from my past incisions, a life held dearer.



5 comments:

Annesta said...

Amy, this is a beautiful post. Your words paint such a picture of emotions and feelings. With tears in my eyes I read and feel joy for you. Joy for where you have been and how you have built your home.
I can't wait to hear about your date night and the suprise!

MomCO3 said...

What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing this lovely slice of your life... what a blessing you are to your family, and to us, through this virtual space.
Blessings,
Annie

Jessica said...

This is lovely; thank you for sharing it.

It is true too, that if you marry a good man, just getting to live life with him is the best reward.

Amy said...

Thanks Annesta and Annie. We had such a nice time on our date. It was so good for me to write about it before we went, I was even more happy to go!

Amy said...

That's well-put Jessica. I'll have to try that line on my hubby tonight :-)

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