About 8-ish years ago, around this time of year, Fitz and I started dating. I remember those first couple of dates quite clearly. Sushi at Coast in Bucktown and dessert at Hot Chocolate. Drinks and spicy guacamole with my good work pals at Carnivale. And then one day Fitz called me up and suggested that I come to his place, that he wanted to cook dinner for me.
This was an adorable and alarming concept, as I did not cook whatsoever and the idea of a guy cooking for me was even more foreign. Most of my dates at that point really only involved dining out or ordering takeout. I mean, the only consumable items in my kitchen during that time were cereal, Lean Pockets, and Marlboro Lights (in retrospect: barf). I was taken off guard but oddly intrigued by his invitation.
So I put on my best ‘casual but cool’ outfit, which consisted of ripped jeans, black driving moccassins, and a light blue sweater with a deep v-neck. I walked in the door of Fitz’s apartment in Old Town (right near Wells Street, natch), and after he greeted me and hung up my coat, he handed me a VHS tape.*
"I taped your show for you. I know you had to miss it while you were driving up from the suburbs," he said, smiling.
I grasped the tape, labeled ‘Desperate Housewives,’ feeling dumbfounded but delighted. After stammering out a thank-you, I looked up and my eyes caught wind of all the action in the kitchen.
There was a pot of water boiling for pasta, a sauce pan simmering with a garlicky marinara, buttery garlic bread roasting in the oven, and lightly breaded chicken breasts on the counter (to be fried in his own deep fryer). All the makings for chicken parmesan.
I was every shade of impressed.
I noticed the stark little Charlie Brown Christmas tree sitting up on counter top, it’s twiggy thin branches sticking out all crazy-like.
"So…whaddya think…maybe after dinner, you can help me decorate my Christmas tree?" he asked, gesturing to a strand of colored lights and a small box of ornaments.
"Um, yeah!" I said, smiling back and chuckling. "All of that sounds awesome."
24-year-old me thought that date was the coolest. 32-year-old me still thinks so. Every detail was accounted for, every thoughtful consideration was given to make me comfortable and happy. All of our dates after that carried my interests even further and had my heart growing in new directions. And we all know what eventually happened four years later.
Did I mention that we still have that Charlie Brown tree? Cause we do. At Christmas time, we set it up at the landing near the top of our stairs. Its little lights (the same strand we strung 8 years ago) illuminate the hallway right outside of our son’s bedroom.
When I pass by it, I think about how that’s our history + our future represented right there. Cool, right?
*(are you dying right now? Desperate Housewives?! VHS!!! Hahaahaaaa)