Three Evenings, Many Years

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There was a stretch of time during middle school when I would watch Grease after school almost daily. As a result, I can recite every line and lyric – which is quite horrifying as an adult because the movie is quite problematic well beyond 30-year-olds playing teenagers. And because of this, it is impossible for me to think of summer nights without quoting at least one line from the infamous song. A few weeks ago, I signed the kids up for an evening three-day Vacation Bible School and I crossed my fingers and toes that the Army wouldn’t send Clay away during those days so we could have some kid-free summer nights – at least for a couple of hours.

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Well – the stars and moon aligned and Clay was actually home those three days. After our children excitedly joined their friends, we waved goodbye and promptly went out for dinner and drinks every.single.night. It was absolutely glorious and a reminder of what our lives were like before deciding to expand our team. The first night, we ended up at El Paso eating chimichangas and drinking margaritas and then we hit up the grocery store for pints of ice cream – obviously a super hot date.

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Because we only had 2.5 hours each night, we chose places in our little pocket of Northern Virginia. If we were cooler (and wealthier!), we’d be closer to the district but instead, we’re leaning into our young-family-with-two-kids-and-a-dog-wanting-good-schools personas and find ourselves living on the other side of the Potomac. The second night, we made reservations at Mike’s American Grill, which is our favorite local restaurant.

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I had a traditional martini and Clay had his favorite IPA. We ate crab dip, filet, salmon, and too much bread. And as I wrote on Instagram – we talked politics, we goal-mapped, and we tried to out-do each other with pop culture references. Between our jobs, the kids’ schedules, and day-to-day responsibilities, there are times we wonder where the teenagers from 17 years ago went. But then whenever we manage to grab a moment together – just the two of us – we realize that we’re just still two young kids in love, albeit with more wrinkles and gray hair.

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On our third kid-free evening, we went to Taco Bamba Taqueria. We freely admit that while we weren’t the biggest fans of Texas, we do miss the tacos terribly. But having Taco Bamba nearby helps because they are by far the best tacos we’ve had in the DC area.

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I had a local Fair Winds Quayside Kolsch and Clay had a west coast IPA. Our tacos were coco loco shrimp, barbacoa, Ricky Bobby, taco bamba, and hail to the hog. My favorite is the barbacoa taco and Clay’s is the taco bamba but they’re all really good. And I am forever indebted to their salsa verde – I could put that stuff on anything and everything.

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This picture of us from 2001 is one of my favorites. We had been dating for about a month and I was completely infatuated with the guy – I knew I loved him more than I could love anyone else. And thankfully almost 17 years later, I still feel the same way. There’s nobody else I’d rather eat chimichangas, filet mignon, and street tacos with and I’m thankful that the timing worked out and we were able to enjoy three evenings out in a row. It felt like a callback to our dating days and first five years of marriage. The responsibilities of parenthood can sometimes make us wonder where these carefree teenagers went. But it turns out that they didn’t go far – they just have more refined tastes in beer and food.

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