This is a picture of me, walking to our backyard date night the other night like, “Ancient 10-year-old fleece onesie, who dis?”
Seriously though, this is what I went and changed into after the kids were asleep and my husband and I decided to have a backyard date night.
A date night that consisted of lighting a fire in our fire pit and spreading some trash bags on the patio furniture cushions, so our booties didn’t get soaked by the rain that was probably molding the cushion stuffing.
We sat and laughed about how every time we moved the water was squeezed from the cushion, resulting in a sound very similar to someone missing the toilet.
We sat, me in my reindeer fleece onesie I got as a gift when I was 18, the fleece feeling quite a bit more snug in certain areas than it did 10 years, two kids, and a move to the land of fried chicken and sweet tea ago.
We sat, basking in the smoke wafting up from the fire, lifting us out of the present on a wave of nostalgia back to the innumerable nights we spent in the mountains 10 years ago—sitting by a different fire, sitting under a sky full of stars rather than street lights, sitting on rocks rather than suburban patio furniture, sitting with hands timidly brushing each other instead of comfortably entwined.
Back to those nights we spent falling in love.
Sometimes I feel like I lose sight of the silly, music-video making teenagers we were when we fell in love in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I lose sight of the boy and girl who stayed up all night kayaking then received notes from professors that read, “If you’d sleep at night, you wouldn’t fall asleep in my class.” I lose sight of the goofy college kids who pretended to time travel in the mud and dressed up like Robin Hood and Maid Marian to go shoot bows and arrows. I lose sight of the crazy, newlywed Americans who jumped in kid-sized inner tubes and hopped in a random river in China with the water buffalo, believing blindly they could float to the city center. I lose sight of the couple with the laughter in their eyes and pain in their legs as they took a 24-hour standing train from one city in China to another.
Among all the schedules, and work, and friends, and responsibilities, and kids whining, and dinners to make, and people to help, and laundry to do, and Netflix shows to watch, and bills to pay, and babies to snuggle . . .
Sometimes, I feel like I lose sight of us.
But when I pull on that fleece onesie and see our feet propped up by the fire once again, I realize I haven’t lost sight of us, we just look a little different now.
Those goofy kids are still there, they’ve just grown up a bit.
Those adventures are still happening, they just look a bit different. The crazy all-nighters sometimes still happen, they just involve two other little people now. The laughter in the eyes and pain in the legs are still there, they are just attributed to toddler jokes and getting older.
This life we have now, this fire we sit by now, it is different than it was 10 years ago.
But when I walk out in that same old fleece onesie, and he looks at me like I’m the prettiest girl in the world and says, “You look just as good as the first time I saw you in it,” I see us, this version of us, and I like what I see.
Previously published on the author’s Facebook page