Friday, April 23, 2010
Five years ago today, I married my best friend. It rained, I spilled punch on my dress, and there was w-a-y too much food at the reception. But none of that matters anymore. I've gotten accustomed to calling myself by my married name, putting the "Mrs." before it, getting the occasional "ma'am" from polite southern boys, and the look of my left hand with a ring around the fourth finger. I've gotten used to sharing a bed without hogging the lion's share of the sleeping real estate. I enjoy sharing housekeeping duties and the perks associated with someone else paying the phone bill (i.e. my phone hasn't been cut off because I forgot to pay the bill in at least five years). I have a Go-To person for advice and someone I can send funny emails to, knowing that they'll be appreciated (or at least tolerated). James is my best bud, my sounding board, my favorite person in the whole world, my sexy dance partner, co-chef, duet partner, cheerleader and shoulder to cry on.
I think we make a pretty good team. I often think I got the better end of the deal, but don't tell him that. Don't want him to get wise to this racket I've got going.
To celebrate our Big Five, I arranged for the Judkins (our fabulous daytime childcare friends) to watch Gwen for the day and set up a Date Day with my main squeeze. His assignment was to get off from work and make dinner plans (I figured he'd have a better idea on where to go, with his concierge training and aptitude for always knowing the best places to eat in P-town). I planned the rest of the day.
We had a nice, snuggly morning with the baby, who was cheerful in spite of a brooding cold that she caught from her mother. Then we got her bundled up and dropped her off at the Judkins's and made our way, bikes on the rack, to the trailhead of the Fanno Creek Trail. Neither of us had been on it before, and with the sun shining and a cool breeze blowing, it made for a fabulous ride. Nothing too strenuous, but lots of nature to enjoy, with the occasional playground or basketball court punctuating the scenery. We rode for a little over half an hour, making our way well into Tigard, before stopping briefly to swing on some swings and explore the potentials of one of the playgrounds, making plans for when Gwen is old enough to (1) ride in a bike trailer, and (2) play on a playground. Then we turned around and rode back, went home and took a shower.
Then we drove downtown to a little studio where I had arranged for a couples massage. Mmmm...massage.... James isn't too keen on strangers kneading his body, but for me, it's bliss. And he actually ended up enjoying the massage, especially since the therapist worked on a sore hamstring that had been bothering him recently. We got all relaxed and re-centered, and then hit up a sandwich joint around the corner that James had gone to before and really liked: Bunk. Darned good gourmet sandwiches, and since it was past 2pm and we hadn't eaten since breakfast, they were even tastier. The day was starting to cloud over, but it was still warm enough to enjoy our sandwiches on one of the patio tables out front (which was good, since the place was full). We cleared our places and then made our way down to the waterfront, where we found parking for ... the Cirque de Soliel!
I've wanted to go to the Cirque since I first saw that striped tent on the waterfront, years ago. They come to Portland quite frequently (it seems like every year or two), and always set up in the same spot, in spite of the growing development in that area. This year was the Kooza show. Our seats were near the center stage, a little more than halfway up the stadium, but as anyone who's been to the show will tell you, there isn't a bad seat in the place. The seating charts on the website look like you might miss some of the action being far back, but it's actually a quite intimate setting, and you feel like you're right in with the action (and you sometimes are - they go out and perform into the audience throughout the show). My favorite acts were the contortionist twins and what James dubbed the Wheel of Death. We also enjoyed the act with a man doing acrobatics on eight chairs stacked on top of each other (makes me worry about when Gwen starts climbing), a couple doing flips on a unicycle, a trapeze artist, a great performance from some tight-rope walkers (and bicycle riders), several hilarious (if slightly racy) comedy acts by a clown trio, some song and dance numbers, an impressive performance from a group of tumblers with the see-saw catapults, and probably a few more acts that escape me at this time (but were still amazing to watch). I'd love to take Gwen there when she's old enough to appreciate it (and hopefully not be freaked out by it - it was freaky at times). Oh, and the piece de resistance was the toilets! They had temporary bathrooms set up outside the Big Top, but instead of your classic stinky port-a-potty, they had flushing toilets! I know it sounds silly, but that really made the premium price for tickets worth it.
We left the circus and it was again up to James to lead us to food. He had printed off several addresses of places he's been wanting to try out, and we made our way to the first, Torro Bravo, a tapas place near Emanuel Hospital. James had heard rave reviews and our friends the Zollingers had raved about it personally, so we were eager to try it out. And our sandwiches were just about spent, so we were hungry! Our initial plan was that if the wait was 15 minutes, but if it was 30, we'd jet. The minute we stepped in, we knew we were boned. It was a 90 minute to 2 hour wait, and they were taking phone numbers of people who were still interested. Just at the thought, I started to feel weak, but then the hostess took pity on us and said if we wanted to wait, there were three tables that were on a first-come-first-serve basis because they were tucked in an undesirable corner of the restaurant, and one would be vacant in a few minutes. We nabbed it, and ordered a soda to tide us over until we could sit. It actually worked out for the best, since our little Candlelit Nook was sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the crowd, the drafts from the now-rainy evening, and we could smooch and giggle to our hearts' content.
We ordered the Tasting Menu, which consisted of two-person-sized portions of about eight tapas hand-picked by the chef/owner. We started off with a green salad with chopped egg and hazelnuts, then toast covered with a creamy white cheese and greens, bacon wrapped dates (I'm still dreaming of those dates!), chili-covered prawns, ox tail croquettes encrusted with a chocolate and cinnamon savory sauce, wilted spinach with pine nuts and a honey sauce, pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon and served over a avocado salad, with bread on the side and a parsley infused olive oil to dip it in or butter to spread on top. I'm sure I'm missing one or two items, but suffice to say we left full and content with our lot in life. But I wanted desert, so we made a drive by to Papa Haydns, where I got desert for James and myself, as well as Jac and Meagan for watching our baby so late. Jac had actually come over to our house with Gwen, so he could put her down at her bedtime and study, so we just came straight home to a sleeping baby and happy babysitter (they love Papa Haydns, too).
All in all, a great day. And to show how far we've come over the last five years, we didn't use a single coupon all day long, and that's ok. But it's really a once-in-five-years occasion. We're not made of money, after all. But it is comforting to know that we've come a long way since our wedding day, when we were scraping up the dough to buy our rather modest wedding rings, honeymooning at a family friend's cabin on Mt. Hood because we had one paycheck in our checking account and James had yet to find a job in Portland. We've finished school, changed jobs (only once each, though, after our respective graduations), bought two cars (one paid off!), bought a house and started the Parental Journey. We've fought, but not too often. We've grown so much mentally and emotionally, but also lost weight and gotten in better shape. I know James so much better now than I did five years ago, or even eleven years ago, when we first met, and looking back, I couldn't have made a better choice. He's not perfect, but he's perfect for me.