I had set a Google calendar reminder, probably soon after Mark and I got engaged. It was the date of our first date ever, March 31, a date I felt I would want to remember year after year. I only knew about the reminder this year because just the day before, I had logged back in to my old email account that had my maiden name, and the account where the reminder was set. When Mark arrived home from work on the 30th, I told him of my discovery and said that we should celebrate. Maybe we couldn’t relive our first date exactly, a dinner at V Mertz and a visit to Brix, but we could do a family date with our son Titus and not yet born baby girl.
When Sonja brought it up, I was a bit surprised. She isn’t really the sentimental sort. But I was also enthused to celebrate it and, in spite of being out late with a winemaker friend last night, I mustered the energy to take her, our son Titus, and the little girl she’s carrying to dinner tonight. Our first stop after picking up Titus from daycare was the passageway in Omaha’s Old Market, where our favorite restaurant, V. Mertz, is located. We swung by and several members of the staff came out to greet Titus and say hello. We showed him the table where we sat on our first date; he seemed rather nonplussed by it, but hey, he’s 18 months old. Then we set off to a more kid-friendly place to grab a bite and reminisce a little bit.
The Old Spaghetti Works is never somewhere we dined while dating, however upon entering the front door, it was evident that it was the date place to be… for those with small children. We dined on angel hair pasta and Titus scarfed down one of his favorites, beets from the salad bar. Afterwards, we took a little walk in which Titus shrieked with glee before we headed home to read books and head to bed (for Titus of course). Bedtime is 7:30 so we may have been home before our original first date had even begun. As I got Titus ready for bed, Mark asked if I would like a little bit of wine with him. I have abstained from wine during my pregnancy but being 38 weeks along now, I figured a small glass couldn’t hurt. Although we had white wine on our first date, Mark selected a bottle of red that had continued significance to our relationship.
There are a number of wineries that hold a very dear place in our hearts for the memories we share there. Over the years since that first date, we’ve spent several vacations in Napa and Sonoma together, enjoying wine and scenery and wonderful people, yet those wineries we visited on our honeymoon remain pseudo-sacred to us. With that in mind, I went to the cellar with a purpose and returned with a bottle of Chateau Buena Vista Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. Buena Vista is the oldest commercial winery in California, and the first winery we visited on our honeymoon, which took place in the early spring of 2013, shortly before I moved to England. Surely, this was the perfect bottle, heavy and imposing itself, and from it a dense, inky wine emerged, sparkling in ruby hues under the light. A nose of nutty aromas, evidence of oak, and dark overripe cherries continued into a body with the same notes, laced heavily in graphite, with traces of brighter red fruits emerging throughout. Walnuts, toasted oak, subtle herbs, and more make this a complex and beautiful tasting experience. Impressively well balanced, firmly structured, it offers a refined yet gentle mouthfeel. Still young, it will easily lay down for a decade if not two or three. As I tasted it, sucking air in over the top of the wine as I sipped, I knew it was a winner.
I neglected to mention before that March 31 is not only the anniversary of our first date, but also marks 2,628,000 minutes (or 5 years) since our first date. As we sit together writing and sipping wine, our lives couldn’t be more different than they were 5 years ago. I don’t think we could have imagined then that today we would be sitting on the couch in our 111 year old home, listening to the noise maker in Titus’ room through the baby monitor, and wondering when our baby girl would decide to make an appearance. We have come so far yet we have so many more adventures to embark on together and as a family.
For my part, I often wonder what will come next in our lives, both individually and as a family. Sonja has found her calling in life as a mother, and while I continue to love teaching with a never-ending passion, my enthusiasm for wine has been ignited in no small way, thanks in large part to the winery that provided us with such a wonderful glass tonight, and I sometimes entertain making a career of it. As for our children, we can only hope. We read to Titus every night, and soon our little girl as well. In time, a piano will find a home in our living room that they might learn to play it, and already Titus joins me in the kitchen when I cook dinner, tasting various ingredients and smelling from my wine glass. He watches basketball and soccer with an enthusiasm to rival my own, and I sense that as soon as he is capable of joining me on my morning runs, he will choose to do so. Will they be athletes? Commentators? Chefs? Sommeliers? Will they be musicians? Or maybe authors? There’s so much that we don’t know, so much to wrap our heads around. As I sit here next to my beautiful, pregnant wife, eagerly anticipating the birth of our daughter and enjoying a memory-laden glass of excellent Cabernet, the uncertainties milling around in my head, the hopes and dreams and desires I seem always to be contemplating, are finally finding their way to words.
Titus and daddy at dinner tonight.