When my husband and I were first dating, we decided to stop in at the Bertucci’s at the White Flint Mall one Sunday to take a break from shopping and have some delicious chain Italian food. It was a pretty unremarkable day for us – shopping, eating, relaxing, not a care in the world. We were two upwardly mobile professionals and the world was our oyster. I was looking forward to a nice glass of wine and a cheesy pasta dish.
After a long wait, we were finally sat at a table in the middle of a crowded dining room. As we perused the menu, a plain looking couple who appeared to be in their mid 30s or so staggered past us, with two young children, and were sat a couple of tables away. As the mother attempted to get some, any, of the contents of the toddler’s sippy cup into the two year old’s mouth instead of the floor, and the father attempted to restrain the preschooler from treating the restaurant as his own private jungle gym, I locked eyes with my husband as we realized: the parents’ agitation and anxiety was due to the fact that this lunch was a very special lunch. Bertucci’s in the mall was a big afternoon out for them.
My husband sneered, “My God, I hope we never get to the point where going to Bertucci’s is a big deal.” I nodded and gulped my beverage, knowing deep down inside that our days of carefree, child free dining with no thought to the budget were numbered.
And sure enough, one marriage, one house, two cats, one child, and two advanced degrees later – we’re not the same people who sat at that table. We’re far from it. I like to think we’re better in a lot of ways. But I can count the amount of times I’ve had a non interrupted meal since my son was born on one hand. And yes, we are very much on a budget now – but very blessed to not be wanting for good food; electricity, and everything we really need (as well as a few creature comforts that I try hard not to take for granted). I should also note, we’re lucky enough to have family in the area, so that child free meals with my husband can take place, once in a while.
Our fourth wedding anniversary was last week, and my husband told me he had some special plans in store. He sat me down and sheepishly suggested, “Let’s go to the Bertucci’s for dinner…and then we can take a nice walk in the neighborhood.” He didn’t have to say anymore; we both knew how meaningful this date was. I was so relieved to know that he had seen the future, the future was here – we now are the kind of “losers” and non hip people who go to Bertucci’s for a special occasion – and yet, he and I are still the same bonded, loving couple deep down. He is at peace with it – and that means so much to me.
I can tell you – I’ll appreciate the food, and the wonderful company, for our anniversary date much more than I appreciated it five years ago. There are some things that money can’t buy, and that only come with time. I’m glad to be who I am now, not who I was then – and am so grateful to have arrived here with him.