Halfway through winter break it dawned on me that I should have texted the babysitter. I was so desperate to make it to Christmas, the entire list of gift purchases left until the 22nd, that it was impossible to see beyond December 26th. I almost didn’t text her, the idea of a potential 16 year old eye roll a bit too much to bear after a five hour drive through snow and sleet. But I texted anyway, four potential dates on the table. When she wrote back almost immediately letting me know that she was available the next night, I was almost too surprised to believe it. Even more shocking was that as soon as I told my husband, he made a reservation at a restaurant we both love without prompting and without a long, drawn out discussion and aggravating indecision, both of us notorious wafflers.
We ordered what we almost always order – me the peppercorn encrusted filet mignon, him the bacon cheeseburger – and at this point we could have settled into a discussion of my upcoming work trip, deadlines waiting for us on the other side of the weekend, the piles of laundry stacking up in our bedroom – but instead I asked him to name all of the jobs he has had.
I have no idea what made me ask this first date question. After all, we’ve known each other since we were 17, meeting in our dorm lounge freshman year of college. And yet, he answered it. Completely forgetting about writing deadlines and red eye flights, I sat and listened to my husband explain how he ended up as a minimum wage earning telemarketer in high school. Even though we’ve been together for almost fifteen years, I had never heard this detailed version of the story and had no idea that while I was driving to piano lessons, percussion practice, and symphony rehearsal after school, he was taking magazine orders over the phone. We laughed that my first real job wasn’t until second semester of freshman year of college, and that not only could I walk to work from our dorm, but I made $10 an hour to hang out with elementary school kids for six hours every Friday afternoon, watching Babe and playing UNO.
We continued on like that throughout the meal, then drove to Home Goods to use up the time remaining on the babysitter’s clock. When we came across a wooden pig cutting board, I couldn’t help interjecting…
“I once made a cutting board pig with a table jigsaw in shop class. It’s a little scary to maneuver the wood around the moving blade.”
“I still think it’s funny that you took that class.”
“We were required to take that class, just like we were required to take agriculture.”
“That’s when you had to study animal husbandry?”
“Yep. Sounds so crazy now…”
Somewhere during the date we morphed from strangers on a first date to an old, married couple, piecing together details of long-forgotten stories, realizing how incredibly different our lives were for the first 17 years, and how much we have worked to make one life together for the 17 years following. It was nice, two hours out of the house, alone with my husband, remembering how we connected in the first place and making the effort to connect again.
I need to text the babysitter more often.