I’ve dated the same man for thirty two years. Some would say that’s remarkable for the staying power alone, but it’s not really. You see, we’ve been married for thirty of those years. That is the remarkable part.
Last week at work, an appointment for this past Thursday popped up in my Outlook calendar. The subject line read “Mystery Date.” The invite was from my husband. My heart skipped a beat and I hit accept.
“Mystery date?” I asked that evening over dinner. He smiled, nodded his head. “Hmm,” he murmured. The only other information I got out of him was “casual clothing, launch time 9:30 am”.Our mystery dates have become a highlight in our gallery of dates. Why still court each other? Because we’re not the same people who were friends for seven years before we began dating. We’re not the same as when we got married, established our home, or raised our son.
Over the years, dates have run the gamut from a simple drive around the island when Abe was a baby, to pizza dinners by the river, to author talks, a run through the car wash followed by a trip for ice cream, to classic car shows and to full-blown formal nights out for dinner and a concert. The constant? It’s just the two of us.
So what was Thursday’s Mystery Date? One of the best EVER! We hit the road at 9:30, stopped for breakfast at a local diner and were on our way. A relaxing hour and a half drive later along the water on Route 5 took us to our destination, the Chautauqua Institution. You could easily spend a week or more there, but we made the most of our day trip.
Steve picked out two events I fell in love with. First, we enjoyed two of the seven finalists in the 18th Chautauqua Piano Competition Finals. The young woman and gentleman we saw were stellar performers. Their 25-minute solos provided two completely different styles in the pieces they chose. We left them to have a bite to eat before heading over to the Hall of Philosophy, a huge outdoor Greek style pavilion to hear author Margaret Atwood speak on The Handmaid’s Tale. She talked about her writing process and influences on the plot lines. Topics ranged from the choice of dress for characters to the setting of a totalitarian society. The couple hundred people gathered were enthralled with her stories and personal experiences. For this writer (and Atwood fan), it was a huge treat.
Why bother planning these for each other? For the simplest of reasons. It’s wonderful to plan something for the other that caters to an interest (like writing for me or classic cars for Steve). Dates give us time to reconnect and center attention back on each other, away from jobs, commitments, family and hobbies. Sometimes they’re just a whole lot of fun and laughter.
The point is in taking the time to plan, to invite, to participate and appreciate. Something I look forward to for many dates…and years, to come.