Hey, it’s too loud. You wanna get outta here?

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*This post was originally posted in March of 2015. I’m reposting it now as today is the 9th anniversary of the day I met my wife… *

I met my wife at an Irish pub. More so we met up at an Irish pub. It was a Sunday night in 2007. Sunday night because she had been on enough of these dates to know it was best to have a good reason (work in the morning) to dip early, and Irish Pub, well, because they’re always fairly full. Even on Sunday nights. Which worked for me since I knew it didn’t take a whole dinner to know whether or not you were interested and if you weren’t, and usually you weren’t, you saved a good chunk of change by not committing to dinner too early as this was New York. Besides, at the very least I had someone to drink with for a couple hours.

Before she reached me I knew I was interested. After confirming our identities the first memorable thing I said to her, the first full sentiment, was ‘Hey, it’s too loud. You wanna get outta here?’ There was a charming Irish band playing on bar stools against the wall all of 8 feet or so from the bar. They were good I think. Who knows, only heard them for a few waiting moments while sipping a Guinness. It was a good precursor to how we would hang out for those first few years. The golden years. The years when we were in the spotlight and our relationship took center stage.

She was smiling ear to ear by the time she’d worked her way across the pub to me and she agreed it was too loud. I downed the pint, not the whole thing, I didn’t want to scare her, and we wandered. In the rain. We huddled, giggling nervously and flirting furiously, wandering the Upper East Side. She would insist it was Yorkville, as the ‘upper east side’ sounded way too fancy for a girl from the country, but no one else in any of the places we went would have known what Yorkville was. She will disagree with this when she reads it. To her I say, write a blog and then you can win the debate! Anyway, What we found and where we became a couple was the Mad River Grille.

We took up residence in the to two stools at the street end of the bar and quickly went about socially lubricating. Probably got down two pints a piece in a half hour or so, just to calm the excitement and remove some nerves. This worked splendidly. We talked about our families and our friends and our histories and our jobs and our funny dates we’d been on and about how much we loved the city because we were both upstaters. We talked about our dreams and our plans our joys and how much fun we were having. It was so great that the ‘Sunday night at 8 date’ as I came to understand it, had turned into the ‘wee hours of Monday date’. Which came to be the, ‘Hey guys, you wanna shot?’ from the bartender date. The ‘If you guys wanna stay and drink some more that’s cool, but I kinda want to join you so do you mind if I lock up. You guys are welcome to stay as long as you like.’ date. Which turned into a ‘meet your neighbors while falling in love and no one believing we’d just met kind of date.’ But like all dates, this one too had to end.

Or did it.

‘I have a ton of sick days.’  I said.

I was taking the temperature and she was thinking. Had I known this girl and her work ethic I’d have known just by the pause how much of a good impression I was making. But I didn’t really know her that way yet. So, you know, nothing ventured…

‘Could you take tomorrow off? Would you wanna hang out in the city tomorrow.’ I asked.

She did! We did. We walked the whole city, a thing we would do a lot. We saw a movie that we are both still INCREDIBLY happy was our first… ‘Blades of Glory’. Yep. Will Ferrell and Napoleon Dynamite in a figure skating comedy! Needless to say, as far as first dates were going, and despite this being the second day and meeting up for a second time, this time at a Barnes and Noble, we were nailing it. This was the best date of our lives, and it would last for years to come. And when it changed it changed for something even better. Our Family.

So here we are. We live in a beautiful little town we love in New Jersey. We have our beautiful little house and our amazing little kids. And it’s great. But it’s also a lot to do and not a lot of time left for us. So from time to time when my mind drifts back to those two stools at the street end of the bar, and I think about the bubbles that flowed that night both between us and through us I get a little wistful. The work in this time of our lives is never ending. We have two toddler boys and they are more, frankly then we can handle at times. The noise and the clutter are just part of the job description. But in this wholly beautiful place there are still times when across a room cluttered and crowded with our very full and happy lives I look at her and more than anything in the world I want to catch her eye, get that smile and that look of excitement and walk right to her and lean in and say…

‘Hey, it’s too loud. You wanna get outta here?”

Street end of the bar...
Street end of the bar…

Starry Starry Night

babymoon pic

I had an argument with my wife this morning. And last night. Well, to say it was an argument implies it was more than it was. An argument comes earlier in a relationship and it involves lots of shouting, the stating of hurtful and judgmental opinions and the generalized threat that one or both members of the pairing are on some level considering whether or not the partnership is one that is even worth saving. That’s an argument.

What we have now is much more targeted and it never, well rarely, threatens the existence of an ‘Us’.  Our attacks now are straight to the point. We know our target and we strike in a way we know will cause the most damage while taking the least time and effort. It’s the efficiency one finds in a marriage, this ability to have a full fledged fight based on two sentences, one each and then targeted silence and muted sneers. It’s not altogether bad, it’s just the standard. It passes fast and allows us the opportunity to breath and get our heads and to apologize after we acknowledge our part in causing any tension. It’s also a reminder that this thing we have requires more than a little effort and growth on both of our parts.

I should mention that today was totally my fault. I have somehow allowed my new computer to become infected and in the course of trying to fix it myself have seemingly crippled it. My emotions are usually measured and tempered, not too high not too low. That said, they are irrational when it comes to these things. Or rather this specific thing. I don’t know how to live without my internet which updates my podcasts efficiently, entertains my sports obsessiveness and allows me to manage my various fantasy teams. My patience in it’s absence has all the maturity of a, well, 13 week old. That said, he was all smiles this morning and he didn’t have internet either, so maybe I regress even further.

The snideness of our tension today was my fault.

I bring this up because something else dawned on me. It’s April 15th!! Isn’t that WONDERFUL! Not because it’s tax day, at least traditionally, or because it’s a day to remember the tragic end of Abraham Lincoln, the Greatest American. These things certainly make the 15th a day to be noted. Neither of these reasons however are why I think of this day so positively.

Four years ago the 15th was a cold, grey and rainy day in NYC. I lived in Astoria, Queens at the time and with my roommate ceding the TV room to me I spent the day curled up on the couch watching old movies. I specifically remember Chinatown. A unique cinematic experience if there ever was one. It was the kind of day when being on the couch and getting absorbed into the muted and faded technicolor of a seventies indie film was the best form of getting cozy. The weather was dreadful and I could have stayed there all day. But I couldn’t. I had a date that night.  It was at 8. It was at Doc Watson’s a bar on the upper east side, in the neighborhood where the girl I hadn’t met yet lived.

When she emailed to see if we were still on (It was really quite bad out weather wise and frankly she’d been on enough of these dates to not be bothered if she missed one) I decided that heading out and meeting her was in fact the best thing to keep me from melting to the couch and succumbing to my inclination to snuggle in for the night at 2pm. She, being polite decided, okay, she’d see me there at 8. She wanted to know if I wanted to talk on the phone. I knew the reasons. Women are right to be scared of men. We’re capable of scary aggression, and she couldn’t have known then that I wasn’t that type of guy. But I still had to say no. Really, there’s nothing more awkward than that conversation, one where she’s trying to pretend that she’s not interrogating you and you trying to sound genuine while aware the whole time that she is trying to determine what type of man you are and whether or not she should have the top of the pepper spray flipped. So instead I gave her my cell number and told her to gimme a text if she was so inclined. I told her that I’d be happy to have a phone convo, but if it was all the same could we skip it. I hate the phone. She was cool with that.

She asked how she’ll recognize me and I said that I’d wear something slutty. It was a risk, but I gotta be me and I thought it was funny. Thankfully, so did she.

We met and before she even had a beer we got away from the overcrowded Irish pub and we were both smiling, ear to ear for the whole night. Even when the bar we wound up at locked it’s doors and kept serving us til the wee hours, as the bartender got plowed and kept giving us and another couple down the bar from us drink after drink. We kept smiling when a little buzzed and over confident I asked her if I could kiss her, like really kiss her. We smiled through that, and the kiss still worked. We smiled all the way though telling each other how we got to this place, our mid thirties and transplanted upstaters living and working in NYC. We smiled as we told each other our different but equally amusing stories of all the bad blind dates we’d had lately. We smiled when we realized that not only was she facing me as I sat at the bar, her free hand rested naturally and lovingly on my leg. We laughed our way through the walk to her corner, a far enough escort on a first date and we stopped long enough to be wildly inappropriate in our public display of affection on the corner of 72nd and York.

The storm we ventured out in that night was epic. It even continued into the next day and the subways could not run due to flooding. That’s a rarity for the NYC transit system, believe it or not. But while we sat there falling in love, both having come in from the storm, the clouds broke and the skies cleared and we were able to walk away together, under a starry sky, hand in hand, smiling and laughing.