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Right behind me, a man is butchering my favorite Tom Petty song.
The guitar is really loud for the space we’re in and honestly…he’s a little pitchy. I’m still happy to hear it—it’s a nice break from the most common Tom Petty cover, “American Girl.”
Joe and I are on our first date since having our second child, Mia.
At least, I’m pretty sure it’s our first. I can’t be too certain because the last two months have been a whirlwind.
When I envisioned our first post-pregnancy date, I’d hoped it would be a little more glamorous than the pizza joint up the street. I thought maybe we’d end up on the water, or in a garden bar. I’d be wearing a sundress and sipping on sangria. But, here we are.
My mom and dad have the kids for the evening because we are in a full-fledged war against a family of fleas who just won’t leave our house. Although they got their eviction notice just a day after moving in, we’ve been in battle with them for almost a month and it’s only gotten worse. I don’t know whose idea it was to get two dogs on top of the two cats we already own, but it wasn’t a great idea. (Okay, it was mine, and I love them.)
So, we made the decision to spend our Saturday spraying every inch of our home in a final attempt to rid the terrors. I’m pretty sure I’ve got sweat caked to my forehead, and I know I’m looking rough because my yoga teacher asked me this morning if I was okay. (I’m okay, I just haven’t slept in a few months. The mombie look is all the rage, guys.)
Despite the fact that I’m probably covered in dead fleas and wearing the same clothes I was practicing yoga in earlier, Joe and I have decided to take this opportunity to go out together. We need a few hours to let the spray sink into the carpet, anyway.
So, here we are, sitting at the bar at the closest decent pizza joint. The bar is filled with what I can only assume are the locals. We stick out because we’re the youngest ones in the place by at least 10 years.
We order mozzarella sticks that were definitely bought at the closest Market Basket and warmed to the point where they are no longer frozen, but barely. The Moscato is sweet and instantly goes to my head. I’ve eaten two slices of pretty-good-but-not-great pizza, and it’s not mixing so well with the wine…and despite all this, I’m having one of the best nights I could ask for.
We make jokes about the crappy food and the band. We take guesses on which song is going to be played next, and he quizzes me on who each artist is. He waits patiently while I change my answer from Eric Clapton to Derek and the Dominos. We lose at Keno because we only ever play our kids’ birthdays and our favorite hockey players’ numbers.
Neither one of us picks up our phone except to check on the kids.
I take in every second of these moments and wonder—how did we get here?
Wasn’t it a minute ago that we were walking down Broadway to go on our first date? I remember looking at him so vividly on the beach that first day together and thinking, “How lucky would I be if this lasted all summer?” And didn’t we just have “the talk” about moving in together? Weren’t we just mourning the loss of my sweet Stelly and tossing around the idea of adopting an animal together?
How did we get here?
It’s like every day melts into the next.
I notice his laugh lines are a little deeper than the last time I looked, and I’m sure my wrinkles are more prominent too.
We fell in love when we didn’t have one single care in the world. We were fresh-faced at 23, and now, in a few short months, I’ll be 30…with four animals and two kids to boot.
After two short hours, we walk away feeling heavy from the food but full from laughter. He goes home to vacuum up the remains of our Saturday cleaning session, and I head to my mom’s to pick up the kids.
I’ve spent every moment of this day in this day. Not looking forward or thinking back. I was present for each moment on that date, and it was possibly the most rewarding thing I’ve done in some time.
It didn’t need to be fancy. I didn’t need a face full of makeup or to be taken somewhere special. I just needed to laugh at our situation and allow myself to be here.
I think a lot of couples lose sight of what’s important. I think it’s easy to wish your life away and say, “One day, we’ll be dining in Europe. One day, we won’t be so exhausted from the kids—we’ll be so refreshed! One day, we won’t have fight an infestation of fleas because I impulse adopted two dogs.”
But soon, these days will be long behind us, just a dot in the rearview. We’ll have deeper laugh lines (I hope) and our problems will be different, but the moments we wished away, well…we don’t get those back.
So, if you’re part of a couple—or not, if you’re a parent or just a really busy human—I challenge you to be here now.
I challenge you to make the most of this very moment and to allow whatever comes to come. I dare you to not compare yourself to whatever couple you just saw post their Hawaii pictures. I’m telling you to live—right now—even if it means that you have to listen to a bad Tom Petty cover and you just got served frozen mozzarella sticks. I think you’ll be thankful you did.