Memory Lane: Best Date Ever

Dan and I started dating in October of 1999.

In November, he asked if I wanted to go see the Leonids meteor shower. Having never seen a meteor shower before, I decided that would be cool.

I suppose I have a layperson’s fascination with the night sky. I can point out a few constellations; I can tell shiny planets from twinkling stars; I love to watch the waxing and waning of the moon. I even have a favorite moon phase, the waxing crescent. I have it tattooed on my arm.

At the time that we were going to see the Leonids meteor shower, Jupiter and Saturn were closest to the Earth than they had been in decades. You could pick them out in the night sky because they were so bright, but if you had a telescope, you’d get a really good look at them.

Dan and I made plans to travel out to Wagman Observatory to see what we could see. Dan packed a picnic blanket and a bottle of wine. He already knew the way to my heart.

The first thing we did was to walk over to the large telescope. Someone from the observatory was there to make sure it was pointed the right way in the sky to view Jupiter and Saturn. I wanted to see them.

I looked at Saturn first. I don’t know when you were in Earth-Science classes, but I was a ’70s baby, so we’re talking mid-late 1980s. You know when you learned about the planets, the pictures they had in your text books? Not the high-definition, digital images that are out there now. We’re talking Kodachrome, here. Flat. Muted colors.

Well, that’s how Saturn looked — it was cool, don’t get me wrong — very two-dimensional, like someone had cut it out and hung it up in space. I had a funny reaction — like, “hey, it really does have rings around it! And you can see them!” It was weird, I guess, to look at something I had learned about, but not really internalized.

Or I’m just weird. Take your pick.

Then we walked back to the blanket and settled in. A full moon was going to make viewing the meteor shower a little difficult, but not impossible. We drank wine and held hands, and stared at the sky waiting to see stars start falling.

And then, a meteor went right over our heads. And I don’t mean a shooting star far away up in the sky. A ball of flame went streaking right over us. It was amazing, intense, stunning.

I don’t remember who said, “Make a wish,” me or Dan. I honestly don’t recall. But I know that we were kissing each other next.

Wishes do come true.

What was your best date? What would you wish on a shooting star now?

Memory Lane: Date Night, Past and Future

My parents went on dates. Every week. I have very clear memories of Friday night babysitters coming over, and watching my parents walk out the door together, all gussied up.

Usually gussied up. At one point they were in a bowling league. Probably less gussying going on. But they each had their own bowling ball and bag… and possibly shoes. Can you buy your own bowling shoes?

I also recall them taking disco dancing lessons — hey, it was the ’70s. We kids used to clamor at them to show us the moves they had learned. I have an image in my head of my mother in blue bell-bottomed disco pants with a flowing blue shirt with a vest over top. Her red hair was permed into an afro (or as afro as she could make it, anyway). While I don’t recall my father’s outfit, I clearly remember his mutton chops. They boogied for us before they left for the night.

My parents made time for each other. It’s something I’ve carried with me, the memory of their date nights.

Saturday evening, Dan and I had dinner plans. I was feeding the kids while dressed in a robe. It brought back memories of my own childhood, watching my mom get dressed and put on makeup before she went out with my dad. She would wear a robe, do her hair and makeup, get dressed, and then — and this still amazes me — she would don her coat, and polish her fingernails. Then they were out the door for the night.

She still polishes her nails last thing. It’s a trick of hers I have never mastered. I can’t even get a manicure without feeling like I’m going to mess it up before walking out the salon door. Let alone get dressed for an evening on the town with my spouse and polish my nails immediately before leaving.

But Date Night is a tradition Dan and I are working on creating for ourselves. Like my parents, we are partners first, parents second. It’s tricky to remember in the crush of kid-stuff and schedules that are divergent (to say the least). We are looking into playing darts weekly, wine tastings, and dancing lessons. (Not all at the same time.)

I may never manage to polish my nails for date night immediately before leaving the house, but my parents taught me a vital lesson as I grew up. They did it without ever making us feel like we came second, but it was clear they stood united. The fact that their marriage was so very important to them — important enough for them to spend special time together on a regular basis — made me feel safe. It’s something I’d like to pass onto my own children: that as much as I love them, my relationship with their father is something special and (to a certain extent) inviolate. That as much time as I am willing to give them, I also have to give time to Dan (and he to me). And I hope that in doing so, in showing them our commitment, they will learn about marriage and love, and that they will feel safe.

What did you learn from your parents about love and marriage? What do you do on date night?

Lost: Pilot Episode I and II

Before Christmas, Dan bought himself — okay, it’s really for all of us — a flat-screen LED television.

It is very shiny.

It was bundled with a Blu Ray player.

And then, he found the entire series of Lost on Blu Ray for a good price on eBay. I wanted to give it to him for Christmas, but he saw the box, and just couldn’t wait.

Men: grown up children.

Anyhoo, we cracked Season 1 open last night, and I was forcibly reminded how much I loved that series.

It was also a lot of fun going back to the beginning even knowing how it ultimately ends, and all the stuff that happens in between.

Now *that’s* foreshadowing.

I won’t be breaking down the episodes like I did for Seasons 4, 5, and 6 — although that was fun.

Lost became more than just a television show.

First and foremost, it was a date night for Dan and me. We’d get the kids to bed and park ourselves on the couch at 9 p.m. every Tuesday. We’d exclaim and laugh and gasp and generally enjoy an hour of time together sharing something.

Secondly, it generated a community of people online sharing… well, pretty much the same things Dan and I shared. Reactions, guesses as to what would happen next, hypotheses as to what it all meant. Lost went beyond the water cooler. I doubt I’m going to find that as we delve into our blu-ray set now. Although maybe I’ll find people who will enjoy the reminiscing.

I also doubt Dan and I will have the discipline to only watch one episode a week. We watched two eps last night, and if I had to wager on it, I would bet Dan watched the rest of the first disk. I’ll probably try to wait to watch more of the show with him, though. It’s really fun to share that time.

What was the first TV show that became more than just a show for you?