I can still picture it perfectly. My fiancee, Adam, and I were zipping along the freeway on the outskirts of the city, headed into what seemed to be the country. Where was he taking me? It was our one-year dating anniversary and he had planned something special. Not only had it been a big year in that we got engaged, but we were also celebrating our perseverance in a long distance relationship. Adam was also the only guy I had ever dated, so I knew that this would be my first and last dating anniversary. Let’s just say that at the time, it was a big deal for me.
That’s when I figured it out. A winery! I knew there were wineries in the area and so that MUST be where he was taking me! It was the perfect idea: romantic, fun, and out of the ordinary.
My excitement quickly faded as we exited the freeway. A landmark sign gave two options: the zoo or a military museum. “Oh please let it be the museum,” I thought.
Nope. The car slowed down and turned into the zoo parking lot. I was speechless. I literally could not think of a word to say. Now, I know many people who think the zoo would be a fun date. I am not one of them. You see, not only is our local zoo fairly small, but I’m allergic to animals, and because I didn’t know we were heading to the zoo that day I didn’t take my medication.
Not only did the date not go as I had planned, but it didn’t go as Adam had planned either. What he thought would be a nice time of holding hands and cuddling as we watched the animals, basically became us walking around just trying to find the animals. It was a rather warm day for the fall and most of the animals were lethargic or hiding in their pens. The afternoon was a bust.
As the weekend went on I tried my best not to voice or show my disappointment, but it was hard. As I drove the three hours home the next day, I tried to give Adam the benefit of the doubt – he had tried something new, made a sincere effort and I knew he loved me with his whole heart. Still, I caved into my own irrational thoughts: “He knows I’m allergic to animals and not very fond of them, why wasn’t he thinking of me?” and “Does he even know me?” and “Should we really be getting married?”
It all came to a head a day or two later while we were talking on the phone. I had basically picked a fight about something petty, and Adam, in his wisdom, called me out on it.
“Kara, I don’t think you’re really that upset about this,” he said. “I think there’s something deeper going on.”
That’s when I couldn’t contain it any longer. “Why did you take me to the ZOO?!” I blurted out.
“That’s it? The zoo?” Adam asked. I didn’t know if I was relieved or more angry to hear him laughing on the other end.
“Oh, I knew it was a train wreck the moment I turned into the parking lot and you went completely silent,” he said.
“You did? Then why didn’t you say something? We could have done something different,” I replied.
“Well, I just figured I’d do damage control instead of change course.”
His response still makes me laugh today, four years later. While he did admit that the zoo wasn’t his best idea, the whole situation taught me a great lesson. Adam’s attitude of “so what, the date flopped” wasn’t because he didn’t love me or care about pleasing me, but a reminder that although there would be moments in our relationship where he’d let me down (and me let him down), it didn’t mean he loved me any less. He isn’t perfect, and neither am I. We both fail at times, but we also keep getting back up and resolve to try harder next time. It takes work, but when you love someone so deeply it is often joyful work – when done with the right attitude it can even seem like no work at all!
Last week we took our son to that same zoo. It was the first time either of us had been back. As we walked along we laughed about how horrible the date was, and how silly I had acted. To this day, we both love telling the story, as it has become an endearing memory in our relationship. What’s funny is that this “anniversary” is probably more memorable than any trip to a winery. It’s even become more memorable than any of our wedding anniversaries. So I guess in the end I did get my “memorable” date after all. 🙂