Tonight in a tavern


The week is spent mostly apart. He peoples my dreams with allure and comfort, and I wake lonely, bare. Tonight, finally, on the third try, we get out for a date. We head over to the village near us - yes, a village still, in this 21st century - where the wind is screaming down the lone main street, rattling the gravel on the road. There are none but farm trucks outside the tavern. It is a wood shack with metal roof, the size of a double wide trailer. Inside, warmth. On the single powerline in town hang Christmas lights and plastic Santa faces from the 1950's. There is a blue wreath with a sign that says, "Keep Christ in Christmas". The evening train blows it's familiar long whistle as it approaches this whistle stop town.

We sit down to pork steaks seared by one of the 4-H club boys, mounds of sauerkraut and boiled dumplings. The waitress brings us a "relish tray" with radishes, cheeses, and small onion bulbs. I am overdressed in my charcoal wool sweater and orange Keens. My husband is the only hippie in the joint with his long hair. We talk first of the difficult things - how I'm doing, what it's been like for him to return to the workplace from which I was fired, what I learned from my therapist today. Then on to giggles over Wheel of Fortune and four dollars worth of trivia playing that lands us the top spot on the scoreboard. I drink sweet glassfuls and he beer, and talk drifts to a 16 year old girl in the adoption newsletter we just received. Can we risk it? We both feel a familiar tug, and agree to call social services tomorrow to find out more. Move forward with a home study with our tax return.

Our friends are hovering around divorce. We feel a humility and thanks for the grace of a happy marriage, a place we both call home and happiness, joy and journey. Companions. Here in the yellow light of the tavern five miles from home, we slow to match each other's mood. Two tables over, the Mexican farmhands who lend the only diversity to the place grow louder as eight o'clock approaches. We head home in the winter wind, feeling slightly out of place in our sedan, holding hands. Simple, and the best of date nights.