Monday, May 16, 2011

Date Night (A Bit Differently)

This past Friday, Jennifer and I had a date night.

Date. Night.

For two parents living abroad with a toddler, we finally came face to face with the stats: seven months, two dates.


Sure, we had those long evening conversations after Tyler went to bed; yup, we cuddled while we watched endlessly romantic comedies and a few intense sagas; indeed, we sipped wine and clinked glasses. But all that didn't quite feel the same as getting out.

When getting out as a married couple, it doesn't matter where you go, just the fact that you leave the actual premises of the house you occupy in order to prove a few things to yourselves:

1) The dishes can wait.

2) There is a whole world that exists outside of laundry, online grocery shopping, and toy-stowal.

3) Walking down a sidewalk in a city somewhere--anywhere--is pure magic.

So Jennifer and I were pretty psyched about our date night. We smiled conspiratorially to one another as we put Tyler to bed, singing the song that the Farmer sings in the movie Babe: the Talking Pig and then telling a fantastically long story about a boy named Tyler and his friends Alice, Benjamin, and Edward who go up in a hot air balloon and run into a thunderstorm, various talking birds, and a large helicopter, and then land on the moon and dig a large hole, wherein they find a family of fireflies that have been surviving (magically) in that crevice of the moon for eons feeding only on the light that comes from each other and then Tyler, Alice, Benjamin, Edward free the fireflies into space and they have (magical) wings that allow them to move and direct themselves even in space and then...

Tyler fell asleep.

Jen and I walked downstairs, and prepared to make tea. Herbal tea. (Berry-flavored.) Our date would consist of a long walk to Millennium Bridge, which spans the River Ouse, and then wherever beckoned from there. We would sip our tea, talk, laugh, and dream together.

Now, I've got to confess: I used to love going out to eat. When Jen and I first met, and she offered some coupons for us to go to a sub place for a buy-one-get-one-free deal, I declined and waltzed her off to the nicest restaurant in town.

But I have (slowly) come to see the beauty and power in not going out to eat, and in not going to really cool restaurants (not that there's anything wrong with it, of course!).Where I used to depend on money to create a magical night of romance, now I know that it's about the togetherness that happens.

Thus: our Friday night date. We carried our steaming tea in to-go cups, launched our massively oversized umbrella, and strode forth into the pouring rain of an English night. The sun was shining through a layer of clouds, and we stopped at the entrance to the trail that would lead us towards Millennium Bridge. The vista we encountered was, yup: magical. Rain shot through the descending light like sparks against a dark sky.

We stood shoulder to shoulder watching the scene.

And hour later, we found ourselves walking the 1,000 year old Roman walls that encircle the city of York. Atop the walls, we could look out and see the clusters of homes filled with modern technology, then glance ahead and see the intermittent towers that capped a turn in the direction of the walls.

All the while, we talked of our journey to England, whether or not we are legally sane, life before switching roles, what it means to trust God, and on staying disciplined along the path to dreams.

We we arrived home two and a half hours later, we both looked at each with that same conspiratory glance with which the date night began--that sense that something magical had taken place, and we didn't pay a dime for it.

Well, okay, maybe approximately ten cents if you tally the cost of the tea bags.