I had rare gift this past weekend...time alone with my wife. We do get to have date nights occasionally, although those are few and far between when we are living in different states, and most often we have some combination of our children with us. In fact, we haven't had this much time, just the two of us, since our honeymoon last June.
My cunning wife made an amazing opportunity happen for us. The Unitarian Universalist church we belong to in Iowa holds a Treats and Talents auction every year as a fundraiser. Last fall, my wife won a stay at a couple's home in Santa Fe, bed and breakfast style.
Esther and Bob are a spry and active couple in their early eighties, married over 60 years now. They belonged to the UU church many years ago in Iowa and offer a stay at their beautiful home every year for the auction. My wife spotted the potential for the two of us to have a weekend together, and she made it happen. Neither of us had ever been to Santa Fe and we were excited to discover the city together.
My beloved was scheduled to arrive just before 1300 on Friday after Valentine's Day. We discussed me leaving around noon that day from work to pick her up. From my office, it would take me at least three and a half hours to drive to the airport. She was content to have a leisurely lunch, maybe catch a shuttle or cab into town and explore until I got there.
What I didn't tell her was that I was working extra hours so I could take the entire day off on Friday and meet her when the flight landed. Surprise honey!
Neither one of us realized how small the Santa Fe airport is. My first clue was Thursday night when I put the address for the airport into my Garmin and the listing read Santa Fe Municipal Airport.
I arrived at the terminal about 45 minutes before my wife's plane was scheduled to land. I noticed signs stating that parking in all areas of the airport was $3.00 per day. When I parked and walked up to the terminal, I saw a sign that said "Did you remember to pay your parking? Cash or Check, No Credit or Debit Cards...Use Drop Box. I started to wonder if I had passed the hitching posts for the horses in the parking lot...
When I finally found the drop box inside the terminal, I realized my checkbook was not with me, and I didn't have exact cash. I opted for staying in my car until the arrival time, then moving my car to the 15 minute spaces for loading and unloading.
The airport was small enough that I was able to see her get off of the plane, then conceal myself just a bit to add to the surprise of me waiting there for her. After a brief and joyous reunion, we set out to find our hosts for the weekend. A quick meet and greet and dropping off our gear, and we were checking out the city.
There are so many great local restaurants in Santa Fe, we were glad to get recommendations from Esther and Bob. One of our favorites was Jambo Cafe...African and Carribean fare. The place was super busy when we arrived, but we got a table pretty quickly. After ordering, we were waiting for our food and enjoying each other's company. Soon, the owner/chef was delivering food to another table and took a long look at our empty table. A moment later, he stopped by and asked if we had eaten already. We told him we had not, and he looked frustrated, made some comment of acknowledgement, and disappeared into the kitchen. A couple of minutes later, our server came to our table with two bowls of soup, the daily specials. He told us the soup was on the house and apologized, but someone had closed out our table, and our orders had to be put in again. After he confirmed our orders, we dipped into the soups...and they were amazing! Coconut, lime, lentil (my favorite) and black bean, sweet potato (C's favorite).
We didn't actually wait long for our food, but I was impressed with the owner's pride and commitment to service. Jambo Cafe is a definite must when you visit Santa Fe!
We spent most of our time together exploring shops, art galleries, restaurants and doing one of our favorite things...talking.
C and I talk...it's our thing. When she was making travel arrangements for our honeymoon, she asked me if I would rather fly from Wisconsin to Florida, or drive. Without hesitation, I answered "drive!" All that time together, talking? No doubt...drive!
This weekend we had a lot to talk about. Our own spiritual journeys, our life journey together...planning for life when we are living in the same place again, planning for life until we are.
What we realized is that by the end of our time together, we had rediscovered "us" as a couple and remembered the reasons we fell in love. The intimacy we share was renewed and strengthened, and we could be just us...life partners. Not mom or dad, or any other role we have...just us.
When I was driving her to the airport this morning, before the sunrise, we were talking about the beginning of our relationship. She realized that I must have had strong ideas about where I wanted our relationship to go long before she did. We reflected on when each of us knew we were falling in love...it happened at different times for each of us, and much faster than either of us expected.
It's good to reflect on those moments from time to time. This weekend was so important for us. We had been married for a little over two months before our marriage became a long distance one. This time to reconnect as a couple was priceless.
Now, as C returns to the Midwest, I linger in Santa Fe, realizing the city has lost some of its luster now that my beloved is not here enjoying it with me.
Tomorrow, we both return to our respective jobs, so grateful for this time together, hopeful for our path forward together, and more in love than ever.