The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

February 16, 2010

It’s all going to turn out beautifully

This photo of us was taken in May 2009, at a bar in the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam. It was very late at night, and we were there with a Dutch friend, in one of our favorite cities, drinking beer in a snug, dark little bar with nary another American in sight. I love this image because of the happiness it captures. We were both fully thrilled with where we were and what we were doing, and it shows.


Valentine’s Day has never been a big deal in our little family. We usually mark it with a good meal out—it’s a bright spot in the long tax-season winter, especially when it falls on a weeknight, since John usually doesn’t get home until 10 or so on weeknights. An exception is made on Valentine’s Day, though, and his office empties out around 7, all the accountants hurrying home to their tax-widow spouses. We usually hit a local BYOB Italian place for some good catching-up conversation over a bottle of cabernet and a long, comforting meal.

This year, of course, Valentine’s Day was on a Sunday—the one day of the week that John doesn’t go to the office. We slept in. He made breakfast: waffles with strawberries, fresh turkey sausage from the indoor Green City Market, mugs and mugs of coffee. We ate at the dining-room table by the windows, turning our newspaper pages, watching the dog watch the turkey sausage.

I did the dishes while he did some work. We went to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy new pillows, an outing that we were both pretty pathetically excited about. (No need for a dozen roses; a new pillow will suffice!) I went for a run in the cold sunshine. He took a nap. I finished a freelance project. A quiet, good, peaceful day.


We had reservations for a five-course meal, paired with wine tastings, at a local winebar. It felt decadent, going out to dinner on a Sunday, and the two hours we spent eating figs and goat cheese and brie/potato soup and lobster gnocchi and short ribs and pepper beignets and oatmeal risotto were pretty damn enjoyable. We talked about upcoming visits from friends. We compared work stories. We reminisced about travels past and dreamed about travels future. There was a lot of talk labeled “future.” We laughed and smiled and rolled our eyes at each other a little, that particular brand of gentle exasperation that comes after so many years together. He didn’t like the white-wine pairings. I didn’t care for the short ribs. We both wanted the lobster gnocchi to go on forever.

Seated next to us was a foursome made up of two couples. When we got up to leave, one of the women, a young blond with a round, cheerful face, said, “How long have you guys been together? You seem like you’re on your second or third date.” A high compliment, for sure, and we told her we’d been married for eight and a half years. “So what’s your secret?" she asked.

“No kids yet,” John replied with a grin. And, hey! It turned out that the other woman at the table was pregnant. But she also had a good sense of humor, so no harm done. I added, “We do things together, and we do things apart. I think that makes a difference.”

There was some more small talk, and then our coats were buttoned, our gloves pulled on, and as we turned to leave, the blond girl said, very earnestly, “Whatever it is you two are hoping for, whatever you’re dreaming of…it’s all going to turn out beautifully. Like the most beautiful work of modern art you can imagine. It’s going to turn out beautifully.”

I don’t know if this person was drunk, or if perhaps she says this to everyone. She seemed sincere, and her tablemates weren’t fazed. I, however, was teary-eyed, and oddly buoyant-feeling. We walked home in the dark icy air, arm in arm, to our new home, closing in on our mid-thirties, going on nine years of marriage. I suspect we were both fully thrilled with where we were and what we were doing, and it showed.

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Blogger Kris said...

This is great. Every once in a while, when we aren't expecting it, there is someone who says exactly the right thing. Like they were placed there by some higher power to let us know that things are moving in the right direction. It sounds like an amazing night.

P.S. I laughed at John's comment after finding out the other woman was pregnant! So funny.

8:39 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

What a beautiful picture & beautiful post. Inspiring, really.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Kellie said...

You gave me chills. A beautiful story, beautifully written.

7:09 PM  

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