When my husband and I were first married, we often spent time with another couple our age, Brown Eyes and Bowling Guy. My husband had gone to elementary school with Bowling Guy, and then they had met again at college. Brown Eyes and I liked each other right away, and the four of us became friends. We'd spend time together almost every Friday night, going to the movies or out for pizza or to the bowling alley. Bowling Guy would tease me for "over-analyzing" movies, and I would mock the action films that he always wanted to see. Brown Eyes would joke about the fact that my husband and I had nothing in common, always taking opposite sides of any friendly argument.
That was more than twenty years ago. Then they had a baby. We had one the next year. They bought a house. We bought a house. Soon they had four kids, and so did we. Life got busy. Brown Eyes went back to school, as did my husband. Her mother had breast cancer, survived the cancer, and moved in with them. My father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer and died a year later. Our kids got older. Bowling Guy battled cancer, with surgery, chemotherapy, and then an experimental treatment. He survived. My husband was diagnosed with melanoma, which is the type of skin cancer that can mestastisize. He had surgery and survived. By then we had teenagers.
We've stayed in touch over the years, seeing each other when we've had time. When the kids were little, sometimes we'd go camping together. We've eaten at each other's houses and gone on picnics together. Brown Eyes and I used to get together once a week when the children were small, inviting other friends with their kids, and calling it a playgroup. We've talked on the telephone, venting about family members or talking about parenting issues. We've seen each other over the years, but always with the eight children in tow.
And now suddenly, our kids are grown up. Our youngest is twelve; theirs is fourteen. The oldest kid in each family is an adult, their son out of school and working, our daughter leaving in a couple weeks for a semester in London.
Last night, we went out to eat and to the movies, just the four of us. At dinner, we caught up with the latest family news, compared notes about jobs, kids, and the need for reading glasses. As we walked into the movie theater, Brown Eyes said to me, "When was the last time the four of us went out together without the kids?" We figured it out quickly – it had been 22 years.
The movie we chose was a sequel (apparently one of many sequels) to a movie we'd all seen in 1976. Apparently, it's not just us getting old; Macho Actor Guy had aged as well. As we left the movie, Brown Eyes and I analyzed the plot, and Bowling Guy told us to stop overthinking the movie. As we walked outside and stood in the dark parking lot, all talking at once, I had this sudden feeling that we'd gone back in time. Or perhaps, more accurately, we'd fastforwarded suddenly, past all the years of parenting, to a new stage in our lives.