The diving winter sun cast narrow shadows on Liberty Street as my wife, Sarah, and I stepped out of the car and gazed at the lonely road surrounding us. A Sunday evening in March wasn’t a busy time in Newburgh, but for us, it was a rare opportunity.
I wore a sweater over a button-down shirt, and she sported a colorful blouse under her coat. We held hands crossing the street, and I opened the door of Ms. Fairfax, the bar and cafe, hipster hangout, and community meeting place of the city. We exhaled, smiled, and sat at the bar.
This was the first real date Sarah and I had been on since the birth of our daughter, Genevieve, four months before. Sarah’s parents were visiting and demanded we take a night for ourselves. They left us in Newburgh, and as they drove home, we stopped in the city for a cocktail before dinner.
Tending the bar was David Ludwig, who previously owned Martha, a coffee shop with healthy, light noshes. Martha closed after a magical year where good reviews were plentiful but business couldn’t hold. In that same building, a few months later, opened Ms. Fairfax. So Ludwig knew his way around the place; then again, he knew his way around Newburgh. He’s a devoted arts advocate, directing the nonprofit Queen of the Hudson, which produces concerts at the warehouse of the manufacturing firm Atlas Industries.
I knew all of this because he told Sarah all of this. Sarah is naturally inquisitive, regardless of the occasion. We spent every day of our honeymoon in Greece talking to random people. She conversed with our delivery room nurses while she was in labor.
The interrogation at Ms. Fairfax was only amplified with alcohol. Ludwig whipped up a brilliant whiskey drink for Sarah. That’s another thing about her: She drinks stronger stuff than I. And while alcohol typically quiets me, it makes her even more extroverted.
She was in her element that evening: smoky whiskey at her side, kind people entertaining her, and a game of dominoes to pass the time.
The time slipped and, slowly, our parental skins shed. Genevieve was safe in the car seat, surrounded by loved ones; knowing that allowed us to remember all of the forgotten reasons we fell in love five years before.
I remembered how Sarah could command a room with her intelligence and thoughtfulness, how her nose crinkled when she had a few sips of whiskey, and how she casually rested her hand against her head and looked so lovely. She could burst with grace — though she would much rather bum around the house in a sweatshirt.
Our reality had become sweatshirts, the result of growing paranoid of a four-month-old’s colic. But in this moment, inside a single glowing light in downtown Newburgh, reality was the thrill of rediscovery.
That’s when Sarah looked at her phone and noticed eight missed calls. She had forgotten to give her parents the house key, halting our date as they returned to us. I also remembered she forgets things like keys a lot. Love, like everything you want, sometimes hits frustrating, funny speed bumps. You need all of them.
Timothy Malcolm is a writer based in Tarrytown. His first book, Appalachian Trail Road Trip, is due in 2019. He lives with his wife, daughter, and plenty of unopened beer.
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