The plan was to not be rushed, it was to drive into the city in the late afternoon, eat out at a nice restaurant we both enjoy, then stroll back to the TD Garden to watch our first Bruins game.
The plan went out the window, with the arrival of heavy snow and me being forced to reply “2” on the “press 2 to cancel” text from the restaurant, confirming our reservation that morning.
The plan went out the window when we spent the hours after church trying to figure out if we could exchange our tickets, while also making sure all of the flashlights had batteries and setting up candles in the event of a blackout.
The plan went out the window when we realized we couldn’t get our money back or exchange the tickets, and so, instead went as a family down to the south shore, and then Vinnie and I went back out to the city in the wintry mix, and I was wearing the wrong boots for sloshing through ankle-deep frothy puddles of snow and slush.
It was too late to find anywhere to eat dinner and we arrived at the Garden only after I whined about my sopping wet socks and my empty stomach. He grumbled, only once, while we walked, ducking under icy drips and hopping over brown puddles and into snow banks – about my attitude.
And he was right.
This was his Christmas gift, the one I was so excited for him to open…and here we were, almost two months later, and I was letting all of the wintery-attitudes of a Nor’Easter make me (and him) miserable.
So, I pulled my hood over my head and embraced the cold water filling my boots. And when we got to the stadium, he walked with me in a full circle around all of the food stands, until he found something that he thought I would eat. A romantic BBQ chicken sandwich, with pickles.
And you know what? It was delicious. I ate it with a fork and had no interest in the bread or coleslaw, but the rest of it? Wonderful. And the best part? Knowing that I was making him happy, just by the simple act of eating an overpriced pulled chicken slider.
Thing is, I think that I am a little spoiled. We go out more often now than we ever did as a new couple, and definitely more than we did after we had children. If we want to sneak out for a nice bite, we’ll have Alex watch his siblings and we’ll duck out to one of our favorite places.
Just last month, we went away for a week long trip to Sedona with our best friends and lived an idyllic existence of hiking and dining and kid-free fun. We have, as a couple, eaten our way through Portland more than once. We go to concerts. We plan weekend escapes and look ahead at each month on the calendar, always filling at least one day with something to look forward to, as a couple. We date and it’s wonderful.
We look forward, often.
But, last night, as Vinnie worked the overnight at a cold weather shelter, I sat thinking of how I’d put pressure on Sunday to be some sort of special Valentine’s Date, and found myself wanting to remember past Valentine’s Days. I couldn’t actually even recall any that have ever been particularly romantic. And I was right – in the history of us that I wrote on a long-since-defunct blog, there is not any especially romantic theme in the month of February.
The closest I could find was the time I set off fire alarms when I tried to cook him a steak.
Then, there was a post about nothing special at all, a journal entry about the simplicity of an evening of he and I, with one baby, living in my parents house. It was a few paragraphs, describing how we went through some of the bins of our storage items and I wore my “going away” dress from our wedding and we played darts in their basement.
Later, we played cards in bed, until we fell asleep.
Another entry was about how we bargain hunted at the grocery store. Another, how we laid in bed talking for hours – and not once about Alex or our newborn, Lila – and it was the sweetest part of my week.
Another entry, was only the picture “You stink! No – You stink, stinky” photo and a note about how how love letters are not typical.
So, there I went, down a rabbit hole of memories, a sea of the past where I was washed over and over again by small moments I’d forgotten. How we never had any money, but always had plenty of laughter. Dates into Boston where I’d pretend we weren’t poor and that I wasn’t worried with every meal we ate. The long, late nights, working together to change diapers or soothe babies. The months of working in tandem, opposite shifts, the days we didn’t physically see each other – but always still seemed to see, each other.
There wasn’t money in our past. There weren’t dates to look forward to lined up on our calendar. But there was a simple magic.
As much as I love that Vinnie and I have another date to look forward to this week and more adventures together on the months ahead – last night I really saw the importance in taking the time to look back. In remembering the awkward and not always easy, steps that led us to this place.
Fixing so hard on the future, I sometimes forget how much effort went into making us who we are – how much love, patience, goofiness, acceptance and joy.
In the end, the game was wonderful – we laughed, Vinnie put up with me asking questions or commenting on how relentlessly fast the puck moves and oh-my-goodness- what-just-happened, and, wait, is that a helmet on the floor, or a glove? And why hasn’t anyone picked up that stick yet? Isn’t that dangerous?
The Bruins won. We ate fried foods. We jumped up screaming and fist pumping. We nodded and exchanged pleasantries with some Canadians who had come down to watch the game. We walked back to the van after an amazing victory, through puddles that were deeper and a chill that was greater, but there was no complaining.
There was just…us. Not past us, not future us.
And it was it’s own kind of magic.