A typical conversation in our household:
Me: I saw so and so tonight at the restaurant. They were having a really nice date.
Me: Yeah. We never go out anymore, do we. Maybe we should have a date night?
Him: Do you want to make pickles and watch Doctor Who?
When the handsome fella and I started dating, many a year ago, we lived about an hour apart. It was hard for us to meet up, but we both had regular 9-5 jobs so we would meet somewhere in the middle for dinner after work. We ate out a lot. I suspect we spent a lot of money. For our one year anniversary, we treated ourselves to dinner at my favorite fancy restaurant in Baltimore, went out for drinks, got a hotel room, and stayed up all night discussing the migration of human populations into North America (land bridge? boats?). I’m not kidding. That’s really what we did.
These days we are both working multiple jobs, we’ve lived together for 6 years, and we grow most of the food we eat. Going out to eat is… rare. For one, in the summer, 5-8 PM is prime time garden time. Take a break from work, go outside while there is shade and the air is blessedly cooler than it is mid afternoon, get as much weeding done as possible before harvesting dinner and heading inside to make something quick. That is, on the nights I’m not waiting tables, which is seriously cramping my gardening style. We work completely opposite schedules. If we manage to be in the garden at the same time it’s like, heeeeey I see you over there, how exciting is this! And a truly thrilling night is when we’re both hanging in the kitchen, usually with Doctor Who on in the background, putting up food.
We discussed this recently (see: above conversation). I was asking whether we should have an actual date night, where we, you know, go out to dinner and dress in reasonable clothing and look at each other across a table and talk. We do go out sometimes, mostly with my parents, or occasionally with visiting friends, but that doesn’t really count. We can’t even remember the last time we went out, just the two of us. But the reality of the situation is, even if we did go out, you know what we’d be talking about? How we really need to get on top of our composting game and what can we do about the fusarium wilt???
Once a few years ago we went out to the same fancy restaurant, which features some very small tables placed close together. We were there as guests of some very generous friends, who were friends of the owner/chef, so magically all these dishes kept appearing at our table. The couples to either side of us kept glancing over, clearly wondering what we had done to deserve such special treatment. Or they were wondering why we both had so much dirt under our fingernails and why we were having such an involved conversation on whether we should start raising rabbits for meat, and what method of butchering would be preferable should we get into that enterprise. Yeah.
This is just us, I think, and it’s the conclusion we came to when we had that above discussion. Would it be nice to go out for a fancy dinner? Actually yeah, that would be really nice, but maybe in January. And only if we can bring our planting charts and a rotation schedule. Date night for us is always going to be staying up late making pickles and watching nerd shows (and/or nature videos). Date night for us is going to be sitting out on the porch having a beer while we wait for the canner to come up to temp because holy hell the kitchen is unbearable when you have a bunch of pots of things boiling in the middle of summer and no AC. Date night is wandering through the garden on the rare evenings we both get off work at relatively the same time, don’t have other obligations, and can walk around the garden, picking a little of this or that, and discussing whether the Japanese beetle problem is worse this year or last year, and can you remember if we had more rain last year? Should we run the irrigation?
I forget sometimes that we are not a typical couple. At our (very) unconventional not-wedding (we call it the party), we said some vows and things, and had a bunch of our friends say something. All of them said the same thing. It’s all about the garden. But it’s not really just that, not for us. It’s about growing something, and not just food. It’s about the farm we’ll one day have, and it’s about land use practices, and it’s about preserving open spaces. It’s about creating pollinator habitat. It’s about knowing that every jar of pickles we open was made one late night, in a stuffy, overheated kitchen, while Doctor Who was on in the background and we got into a really epic debate about the origins of the patriarchy. Cause that’s how we do date night.
Though I won’t say no to an offer of fancy dinner, either, if someone wanted to help us out with that. As long as it’s in January. Right now we’ve got weeds to pull.