When I was young there was an ice cream shop on McFarland Avenue in Rossville, GA called the Dream Cream which was an occasional treat for our family if we went out for Sunday dinner after church. One particular Sunday the decision was made that we were going to make an ice cream stop and I determined before pulling into the parking lot that I was old enough for a large chocolate milk shake of my own and I shouldn’t be required to share it with any of my brothers. A discussion followed and my mother soon became frustrated with my stubbornness and decided to teach me a lesson, telling me that if she bought me a large milk shake, I would be required to drink every bit of it or I would get a spanking for wasting food. Confident that I would easily be able to handle the Dream Cream Super Shake challenge without so much as a belch, I called her bluff. I’ll spare the reader from describing the dairy induced details, but for the record, lets just say I learned a lesson on that day that I (nor anyone else in that car) will ever forget.
I had taken Libby back to Macon after a weekend at home and then surprised her (and myself) when I found out that I would be going back to Macon to work at a high school less than 2 miles from Mercer University. My 20-year-old male brain had already begun to plan the agenda for the three weeks. I would leave my hotel early enough each morning to go to breakfast with Libby, then I would go by for a sandwich most days during my lunch break and most assuredly, spend every evening together, beginning as soon as I got off of work and lasting late into the night, every night. In the immortal words of Jacopo from the movie, The Count of Monte Cristo, “…How is this a bad plan?”
The first week of dates had been everything I had imagined, we were together every possible minute, capped off with a romantic evening described in my previous blog entitled The Dance. But as the second week of the trilogy began, reality set in as we reluctantly decided that we needed to plan around my work schedule, Libby’s homework, tests, papers, and all of the things we had put off during out first week of non-stop dates.
Call it naivety or more likely, immaturity on my part, but on my way back down to Macon at 5 AM on that first Monday morning, I envisioned twenty-one days of steak dinners and double feature movies every night followed by ice cream on the way home (no shakes). Instead, what I found in Libby was a dedicated student with a very aggressive class load involving some serious library time, especially after falling behind her first year when she missed so much school during her bout with mononucleosis. In addition, I had to work several evening shifts so it wasn’t the dating marathon I had planned, but the biggest obstacle to my fantasy of non stop dating was that I simply couldn’t afford it.
Much like that large chocolate shake that I wanted when I was young, the reality of the experience in real life did did not live up to expectations that I had in by brain. Don’t get me wrong here, I enjoyed the entire three-week stretch, it’s just that our relationship was changing (maturing?) and we were forced to make decisions and prioritize our time among our responsibilities. In the process we learned that we couldn’t dance under the stars all of the time, we had to complete our obligations and then make the most of the time that we had to ourselves – a trait practiced but never fully mastered – over the next 37 years as we constantly struggled to balance time spent with one another against work, obligations and later on, children.