I was her once.
She is young; no more than 25, and she sits across the table from her mate, staring into his eyes. Her eyes are filled with love and adoration. She is happy. Hopeful. They are having a date night, taking advantage of the cheap prices at the “all you can eat” buffet. It’s a big deal. They don’t have the money to go out often. They are celebrating. Laughing at each other’s jokes. Enjoying the moment.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. They are together. That’s all that matters.
Newlyweds, they barely have enough to pay their bills or buy essentials. They count the days until payday, hoping they can get by until they can deposit their next checks at the end of the week. They worry about how they’re going to afford a pair of retread tires for their car. What they’ll do if anything unexpected happens. Praying it doesn’t. But they’re in it together. They will make each other strong. They believe in each other. They will get through it, whatever comes. Somehow.
I was there once. I remember.
Tomorrow will come with its worries and challenges. But tonight, all worries are set aside. Tonight, they are enjoying each other’s company and are content in their love for one another. Tonight is all about having a good time, talking, dreaming about the future. A future when they don’t have to worry about how they will afford tires. When they can buy them new, four at a time.
They work 8 to 5 with a little overtime thrown in when they’re lucky. They brown bag their lunch, eating bologna sandwiches on week old stale bread with a bag of chips and a glass of water. Their clothes come from the resale shop and shoes are purchased at Wal-Mart. When they’re on sale. They buy gas $5 at a time. Clip coupons. Plan carefully.
They save up for their date nights at the all-you-can-eat buffet.
It’s them against the world. United. Together. Strong. Moving forward together. They have nothing and no one but each other to cling to. And that is enough. For now, it is enough. More than enough.
This was me once. They are a reflection of my past.
Full of excitement. Just starting out, believing the best was yet to come and that it was coming soon. Young. Filled with energy and hope. Newly married. In love.
Back when I was her age, an entire world lay before me, ripe for the picking, waiting for me to finally begin to live my dreams. Waiting for me to step into a brand new and beautiful future. I knew everything was going to be wonderful.
And I was so completely in love; head over heels. I looked at him the way she is looking at her young man. Her new spouse. I was that giddy once. I believed we would build a good life together and that our love would allow us to overcome all obstacles. Even though there were a lot of obstacles.
Time passed swiftly. Far too quickly.
Then I was 33. A young professional. So excited when I was finally promoted to management. Went to Service Merchandise and carefully selected my very first briefcase. Maybe I was less hopeful about my marriage. Okay, I was pretty much out of hope. I now knew beyond any doubt the love I had for him wasn’t returned. That he didn’t love me and never had. But I still believed things would eventually work out. I thought if I worked hard enough, made enough money, did the right things and was a good person, he would eventually see there was something about me that made me worth loving. I might have to go through unpleasant times, but he would come around. He would begin to love and appreciate me the way I thought he did when we married. I just had to prove my worth. I just had to do everything perfectly. I had to BE perfect.
I didn’t notice right away…though we had the funds to go to a better restaurant, it had been a long time since we’d had a date night. It had been a long time since we had openly talked. I was no longer the young woman at the buffet.
I watch her, remembering. Wishing for another chance. Oh, if only…
I hope she doesn’t someday sit where I am sitting now, watching another young woman the way I am watching her. I hope by the time she is my age, she is still holding the hand of her adoring spouse. That they still talk about their dreams and deep feelings. That it’s still them against the world. I hope they are together and that being together is all that matters. That being together is enough. More than enough. And I pray they are still going out for date nights.