Our eighth anniversary came and went on Tuesday with a toast and a smile, but otherwise passed as an uneventful day. We were going to forgo a celebration dinner in lieu of getting a lot of work done on a new rental house. Priorities, yes?
Then friends called and said that we needed to join them at “the best steakhouse in the area” (partnered with those magical words “gift certificate”). So we immediately booked a sitter.
At times we catch flack because we don’t choose to spend our precious adult time alone, just the two of us. It’s how we roll. We nearly always opt for good company. Last year, we went to Columbus for an anniversary getaway and JJ invited a friend to join us for drinks. We celebrated our 5th (the first big milestone) by letting my parents buy us dinner. Take out.
Actually, our version of celebrating “as a couple” is nearly always with others. On our honeymoon – yes, that special time alone – we jumped an island to go visit my cousins who were vacationing nearby. It became a highlight of the trip. Now we’re contemplating a 10 year anniversary trip with longtime friends.
I inherited this priority of adult friendships from my parents – I grew up watching them enjoy their childless weekend nights with other couples. They would enjoy a steak from the Steer Barn or gab while playing cards. They had a collection of couples they would call upon to join them for a night at the races, but the beauty was they never had big organized activities requiring an RSVP by all friends. If someone couldn’t make it, they joined in next time. Such an open-door policy freed them from petty arguments.
After nearly 30 years of growing comfortable friendships, everyone’s kids have grown up and started families. Some of them near, some far. Nests are empty and they no longer live by the high school basketball schedule. While family has always come “first”, the landscape has changed. Now they’re moving into that season of life when friends become widows. As family shape changes once again, they are blessed to keep their circle of friendships consistent.
That’s our hope. We love our children – and one another – but we recognize now that this season will seem short at the end. So while we eat up every chance for family outings and vacations, pizza nights at home and trips to the park, there’s a certain level of beauty that comes with sharing some of those moments with good friends. When the kids grow up and (if we do this right) leave and continue the cycle as functional, contributing members of society, we want to wave them goodbye with tears in our eyes as one of those friends hands us a tissue, knowing the pride and the pain in our hearts.
Those kinds of friends won’t magically appear when it becomes convenient. Life shared with others takes the work of clearing space. Giving your “alone time” to those you enjoy*. When it comes down to it, the only thing we take from this world is our relationships with others.
|Setting the example: my dad sharing his (our) vacation with the best of friends.
*To ease any fears, we do occasionally enjoy a date night as a couple. We’re home by 9.