8:30: We arrive at the downtown wine bar dressed in metallic and blues, with makeup that took more than the requisite 7 minutes (me, not My Guy, who took the usual forever) and not-for-walking shoes. We are told the wait for a table would be 1.5 hours. It doesn’t faze us; it’s expected at a place like this. We order a bottle of Pinot Noir and stand with the crowd outside, inhaling the crisp evening air intoxicated with perfume and pheromones. Our bodies bathe in the purple-orange glow of dusk as we soak in the atmosphere – the trendsetters, the murderous stilettos, the carefully disheveled sports jackets, the shiny cars, the loud conversations between friends, the quiet, awkward ones of first and last dates, the people-watching, the people-sizing.
10:20: We are finally seated. Dinner past 10 - how European. How downtown. By this time, the bottle of wine is gone. Instead, we indulge in the oh-so-worth-the-wait small plates that arrive one at a time. We share the divine concoctions and revel in the mastery. We are seated across from one another at one of the many community tables, sandwiched between two different couples. Afraid to be heard, we make silent remarks to each other with our eyes about our dining “partners” and conversations we overhear. (What? Don’t judge me. We already filled our two-hour wait with talk about our own life – we needed new material!)
11:47: We finally leave after some Muscat and coffee for dessert. The night air chills my bare shoulders as we walk hand in hand to our car. We head home, and when we walk in the door, my head still deliciously buzzing from the evening, our babysitter meets us on his way out, reporting a quiet evening. We exchange pleasantries, goodbyes and thank yous. I look at the clock – it’s past midnight.
Poof! We turn back into pumpkins.
Back to our reality of dinner at nearby restaurants with the silver-haired crowd before rushing home to the baby’s bedtime. But at least we had this night, with the smile on my face as the glass slipper memento of the evening.
It feels good to be back there, pre-baby, or even pre-notion of a family again, where it was just the two of us with no set plans for the future, other than knowing that we wanted to be together. A night for and about us. It took a little planning and after a week’s giddy anticipation, the execution was better than I had imagined despite the two-hour wait. Actually, maybe even because of it as it prolonged our evening. It wasn’t a rule to not talk about our little girl, who is, of course, the center of our universe, but somehow it worked out that way.
Instead, we savor the inconsequential, the jab at fellow diners, the eyebrow-arching of outlandish fashion. There is a time for serious discussions and deep exchanges about our future and our family – sometimes, essentially the same. But this is not that time. This night is for the youth, energy, lover and dreamer in us.
Aptly, the wine bar is called avec. It means “with” in French. And this night, all I can think of is the person with whom I am there. With whom I share the bottle of wine and the small plates. With whom I want to spend the rest of my life.
We may not have many nights like these, but when we do, it’s enough to remind us of the people we once were. Some parts of us ache for those days but mostly, we feel recharged. Our faith in each other and in our family renewed. Because when we look into our little girl’s eyes that mirror ours in the morning, we know with absolute certainty: Yes, life before her was fantastic.
But life with her is better.
When you look back, what do you see? What was your life pre-baby, or pre-anything that changed your life recently (marriage, job, move, etc.)? Do you miss it?
Has your life turned out exactly as you had imagined or nothing like it? Do you ever want to go back to the old you? Why or why not?