For my birthday, Jeremy very sweetly planned a surprise dinner with friends for me in the city. After the dinner we headed over to a local dive bar to continue the party with alcohol-infused Scrabble. It was the perfect evening. And, by the time the clock struck 12:30, Jeremy and I were home and getting ready for bed, just in time to avoid missing our bedtimes and turning into married pumpkins.
In college, neither Jeremy nor I had very healthy sleep schedules. When we were dating and I would spend time on the men’s campus of Yeshiva University, we would bemoan the fact that the shuttle service between the campuses ended so early every night. Two in the morning was way too early to leave each other for sleep, we agreed. Nowadays 2 a.m. seems like a ludicrous time to be awake; one night last week I fell asleep by 10 p.m. and got 10 hours of sleep. If I become any more responsible and boring they’ll take away my Millennial card.
It’s not just Jeremy and me, either. After dinner at my party the other married couples all left instead of joining us at the bar. They were going home and getting into PJs to watch TV for the rest of the night, as Jeremy and I would have done if the situation were reversed. Overnight my friends and I seem to have turned old.
Part of it is the suburb thing — parties are much easier to enjoy when you don’t have to worry about an hour and a half journey home afterward. And part of it is also the responsibility thing. Jeremy and I both have to wake up earlier than we did in college on a regular basis, and so I can’t use my old trick of going to sleep at 2 a.m. and still getting in 10 hours. But the largest part of it, the part that keeps us anxiously checking our watches is the comfort of home. We love heading out for a day of activities or a night of hanging out with friends, but when the day ends, all we can think about is being comfortable and being with each other, getting out of our nice clothing and into our bed or setting up camp on our sofa to watch some TV or curling up together to read.
Perhaps a large factor is that, since we got married so young, we never really had apartments of our own until now. I lived in the dorms and Jeremy had an apartment with friends, but we had never really lived in a home that we had built on our own until now. Not since childhood has home meant a place of such warmth and happiness, and never before has home also meant a place of our own,
Leaving a party used to mean the end of the night for me; now it means the beginning of our night alone together. And being alone together is so fulfilling that it’s hard to pull myself away from it to see the other people in my life that I care about. But I want them to stay in my life, and I definitely don’t want to become that boring married couple that people only vaguely remember (any more than I already am). So Jeremy and I get dressed in our nice clothes every few days, push ourselves off the couch and out the door, and go make time for the people we love. For a few hours, anyway.
So don’t worry, loved ones. We’ll still be friends with you. As long as it’s before 10 p.m.
Simi Lichtman is a contributor to the Forward.
Going Home Early