Earlier this year, on the night that I was watching the Oscars where I had heard about less than half of the movies that were up for Best Picture (and maybe watched one and it was probably at home on my couch) and having to Google any actor that was younger than 35 while simultaneously wondering why they all look like actual babies, I promised myself that this year would be different. I was going to see more movies in the theater, maybe we’d even get one of those movie-theater-pass-thingys so we don’t have to dip into our savings every time we buy tickets. We’d be totally up-to-date on all of the year’s best movies, maybe we’d keep a little chart and write them all down and we’d definitely know what was going on at next year’s Oscars.
Cut to December 22 (that’s today) and I have seen exactly two movies in the theater this entire year. Was it the epic Black Panther, you ask? No. Okay, well was it something scary like, A Quiet Place or scary-good like, Vice? Nope and nope. Well at least tell me that one of them was A Star is Born. Um…. no. The movies that we saw in the theater this year were, Mission Impossible: Fallout and Crazy Rich Asians. I mean… come on. These movies are fine. And I can already hear Ryan making a case for why seeing Mission Impossible was a clear win, but it was ridiculously predictable and, honestly, I’m sort of tired of seeing Tom Cruise hanging from a cliff or falling out of an airplane. And Crazy Rich Asians was definitely as good as the book and a gorgeously fun movie, but they aren’t the kind of movies I wish I’d seen in the theater this year.
I’m pretty sure it was a timing issue for us, like it usually is. When a movie comes out, we can’t just look at each other and say, “Let’s go see that this weekend” and then, like, go. Our lives don’t work that way. There are other commitments, lacrosse games, lots and lots of kids in and out of our house and an infinity amount of driving– because just like there are things that no one tells you when you become a new mom, the thing that no one tells you when you become a mom to teenagers is that you will become a mostly full-time chauffeur. So we spend a lot of time talking about the movies we want to see and when we could see them, but when we finally have the opportunity, they aren’t in the theater anymore and so we either give up and just go out to dinner or have to see whatever is showing at a time that works for us.
We have been doing this again lately. Ever since A Star is Born came out, actually. We keep carving out space in our calendar only to see it get swallowed up with something else that comes along until A Star is Born was replaced with The Mule because eventually the only time we could see the former was in the early afternoon or the middle of the night. But more important than seeing an actual movie in the theater, is just going out together. The movie, of course, is secondary to the time we spend together, off of our couch and away from our children. I want to spend time with Ryan, my husband and favorite person, instead of the guy who snores, who asks me when I’m going to schedule that eye appointment already and who “puts things away” in an effort to “organize” all of my piles of very important things that are already organized (that’s why they are in piles, Ryan.) And getting out of the house, seated at a table where someone else is cooking and cleaning up, always does the trick. If we can spend the three hours before that watching one of the best movies of the year, all the better, but it isn’t essential. So when we had a smallish window to grab dinner last night, we snatched it like a hungry badger.
We spent most of yesterday texting about where to go. I’m sure you’re familiar with what that looks like. Someone suggests something. The other person responds: that’s where they always go. Another suggestion. Another response: anywhere but there. Another suggestion. Response: I’m just not in the mood. Finally, we land on a restaurant that is new to both of us and looks good. Ryan works to make a reservation and texts me the following choices: 6:15 or 8:30. Simultaneously, I’m texting with our 15-year-old about her plans for the night, while also shopping for Christmas Eve dinner, which means that I am that annoying woman half-pushing her cart aimlessly and half-texting, who has totally forgotten where she is or that she is sharing space with a lot of other people who are also holiday-food-shopping and who now super hate her. Of course we were hoping that we would be able to watch a movie before dinner and bring up our grand total of Live Theater Experiences to a whopping three movies, but we needed to pick up Emma from a friend’s at 7:30. So Ryan made a reservation for us at 8:30, despite the obvious fact that we are parents who are old and tired, who don’t do fancy, single, kidless things like begin a meal 8:30 PM, unless we are on vacation.
So we found ourselves sitting down to dinner at a time when we are typically putting on our pajama pants and sitting down on the couch, and it was magical in that way that only date nights can be. We talked nonstop. We talked about our girls, Ryan’s job, our goals for next year, the rest of this year and a million other things. It was like meditation for our marriage. Somehow, all of the stupid and insignificant issues (like how loud some people chew or whose job it really is to make the bed) fall away and we were left with the central core of your relationship– that quiet, relentless engine of our marriage that chugs forward silently, pushing us right along. It’s the part of our marriage that I love best, the part that loves talking and eating and laughing. Sitting down at a fancyish restaurant last night pulled us into the present moment in a way that watching The Handmaid’s Tale just can’t do. I wasn’t nearly as tired as I thought I would be and I didn’t even miss not seeing a movie… well, not until Oscar Night 2019.
Side Note. Our favorite thing to do is to order a few small plates or appetizers and share them. It is especially good at a restaurant that is fancier than you expect because you won’t spend as much and you’ll get to try more things, which I particularly appreciate since it cuts down on the number of decisions I have to make. It’s also just as good my two favorite things to eat: a meal of snacks and a meal of sides. I can forgo a full entree or the main course any day… give me a charcuterie, an appetizer sampler, chips and salsa or all the sides from Thanksgiving and I’m in my happy place.