Date Night, Simplified

Ken has been traveling east and I have been traveling west and we have been packing toothbrushes for each other and switching car seats and sending daily reminders – trash on monday – and swapping duties back and forth like a prized hot potato – pass, pass, pass, stop!

Today was stop day. Today was date night, or more aptly date hour given the rainstorm that hit a few moments after we toasted the occasion. But we had found ourselves in the same zip code and it seemed a celebratory enough event to break out the wine and sit around the fire in our pajamas and hey, do you want mini waffles? (Recipe here.)

It is never convenient to huddle around a fire pit on a cloudy evening. The dinner dishes are still stacked in the sink and you’ve got a conference call at 9 and I need to send that email and wait, isn’t your mother coming by tomorrow? We should sweep. No, a fire is not convenient tonight.

But, a string of convenient decisions offers a convenient life, and who wants a convenient life?

Here, hand me the lighter.

There are two offerings that can make the most productive driven souls relax for a legitimate period of time: fire and wine. Music helps, but not always, because often the song ends and your guest will begin jingling his keys in his pants pocket or she will shift her posture just so and you know then, five minute warning. They will be gone by the next record.

But fire, and wine. If you rekindle and refill, if you watch and listen and sip, the hours will stretch like putty until you have no other option but to fill any lingering silence with rich words. Begin any conversation with something you have shared many times around the dinner table and it sounds differently when said around the fire, glass of wine in hand. It is in a different language. Did you grab the mail? sounds like What’s next? How can I help?

You have transitioned from “How was your day?” to “How is your life?”

Date nights can be tricky. There’s the traveling, yes, but there is also the expense: the babysitting fee, the song and dance, the dinner out, the here, leave a tip while I hit the bathroom; movie starts in ten minutes. There is less room for “How is your life?” when a waiter arrives and you answer “Medium rare,” now where was I?

But fire, and wine. They are intentional, available, right here in our own backyard – and they take only one hour to spark. They take only the wiping of a glass, uncorking of a bottle, gathering of the baby monitor and cheers, to you and to me and to this.

“We should do this more often,” we say, each and every time. And we think we will, but we don’t. We choose convenience – the dishes, the email, the visiting mother-in-law – and a month later, we have forgotten our new language. Did you grab the mail? means only Did you grab the mail?

But every now and then, I’ll be letting the dogs outside on a random Tuesday afternoon and I will step in the ashes from a previous date night, and I will decide, today. Today is a day for inconvenience. I will gather blankets, wipe the glasses, pour the wine and I will say to Ken, “Here, the lighter.”

It takes only a spark.

This essay was written for Kendall-Jackson Wines; thank you for reading! Wishing you many sparks ahead, friends.

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