The first time I locked eyes with JB in a crowded student pub, we were standing on beer-soaked carpet. And for the next several years, it didn't get much fancier. We were students and we lived like students.
Most of our earliest years together were spent distracting each other in university libraries, sharing fries in campus food courts, and driving through fast food joints after a night spent cramming for exams. Add the fact smart phones weren't around and email was used sporadically and there was a lot of time to get to know each other.
Since then, we've had our fair share of great date nights. Time with friends, time in the big city, time at fancy restaurants and faraway hotels. But our ritual date-in-the-family-room-nights? The ones spent in PJs, splitting a bag of bbq bits n' bites? They're just as great.
The things is, going on an out-of-the-house date night is a bit of a production around here. And I don't want to say it isn't worth it, because time spent alone is worth its weight in prep time. But throw in logistics and the cost of care for four kids under the age of 10, and it's sort of impossible to be pulling off on a regular basis.
Just knowing there will be a night once a week that we'll ignore all the things we should be doing to spend time together (watching DVD box sets, powering through back-to-back episodes of My Strange Addiction, virtual house shopping on MLS, spending money on Apple TV, eating wings from our neighbourhood wingery, devouring DQ Blizzards and peanut buster parfaits) is more than enough to match a night out in fancy clothes.
We spend the day doing things all parents do: chasing/feeding/cajoling/loving our kids, before settling them for the night and reminding them that the time is now ours. They giggle and stand clustered outside the door of the family room, fascinated by our decision to spend time alone.
And in that time together, we forgive the annoyances that are behind us; tell stories we didn't have time to tell over the tops of kids' heads; share something we learned, read or heard; laugh ourselves silly and sometimes, when things are hard, cry.
These years together have shown us that underneath the rush of time, circumstances, and challenges, the person we first saw on that beer-soaked carpet still stands.
It's not that we've resigned ourselves to spending time together on a worn out couch, covered with unmatched socks and children's treasures, because we're parents. This time spent together is enough because it reminds us of the way we were and the way we hope to stay.