The First Reader and I were sitting out on the porch this morning. It’s incredibly mild for February in Ohio, and even in the pre-dawn darkness it was almost warm enough to be out without a coat. That ends this afternoon, of course. Back to more normal weather. But we were also building castles in the air, as one does. We don’t get a lot of time any longer, just the two of us. Last night we were out on the porch as well, but every five minutes the Little Man came out to ask us questions… you know how to (partially) distract a teen boy? Give him a little project that involves getting to use the drill, etc. He was putting up new smoke and CO2 alarms for us. He felt useful, and we had a few quiet moments.
Mornings, on the other hand, are just the two of us grownups. Teens are not awake, it’s still and calm. I love these moments to talk, and usually we are engrossed in the minutiae of daily life. Who is commuting who where, what needs to be taken care of, have we made dinner plans? This morning, though, we were discussing dating. It’s difficult to steal enough time to date, but we make an effort because we’ve discovered if we don’t, it’s not good. Spending the time together with no interruptions is very important. If we can’t take the time right now, we can at least dream and make plans… which is what we did on a workday morning.
We’ve concluded over the last going-on-eight years together that we share some interests. My wanting to go to the orchid show, for instance, does not give him any enjoyment, but he will go to see my face light up over the flowers. However, if we get the chance to go to a bookstore together, that makes both of us happy. We’ve come up with plans, then. The perfection of our dating would be the trifecta of: a quirky restaurant, a used bookstore, and an unusual grocery. We both love Jungle Jim’s – it is where he took me on our first date – but there are only two in the world. There are, however, some amazing ethnic groceries all over the place, some little holes in the wall, others with a diverse selection of goodies you won’t find in regular shops.
The fun part is planning mini road trips that can encompass all three things, without taking us away from home for too long. Fortunately, as we live two hours or less from five major cities (six if you count Dayton), this is possible. With google maps at my fingertips, it’s easy to figure out routes and times, even. Now we just need to find the time to make it happen!
We may be very married, but we are more in love than ever before, and wanting to date shouldn’t die when the vows are spoken. I’d say it is just as important – and possibly even more important once children are in the picture – to make the time to focus on one another for a little while. Love is like those orchids I plan to go look at in a couple of weeks. Love needs to be watered, and fed, and nurtured. You need to take the time to understand what you both need – some orchids need a little benign neglect, others need constant attention. But all of them will wither and die if you never do anything to provide their basic needs of water and sunlight. Love isn’t all magical happily ever after existing, sometimes it’s making your beloved a grilled cheese sandwich and bringing it to them while they hide in the bedroom because they just can’t with life right now. Love is making sure that you reach out and touch them and remind them they aren’t alone. Love is planning for dates even while you know you may not be able to afford to take them – no, not the money. The time. Money is easier than time to acquire. Time is precious, and fleeting. But that’s what you need to give your love, in order to keep it alive and well.