Last weekend my husband’s brother, his wife, and two kids came to visit us. They hit terrible traffic and a drive that normally takes three and a half hours took over six. They were tired, grumpy and hungry when they arrived. I’m not much of a cook (okay, I’m not a cook at all) so we decided to treat them to a specialty pizza place a few blocks from our house (they appreciated not getting back in the car).
The pizza place is nothing fancy, but it has really good food – white pizza (which is, if you don’t know, a pizza without the tomato sauce), pizzas with loads of garlic, huge servings of delicious salads (we usually get the Greek one), and they have a variety of very tasty paninis (some vegetarian, some not). They also serve beer and wine.
As we were all sitting at a table waiting for our food to come out, my husband and I were reminiscing about our birthday party two years ago that we had at the pizza place. We remembered the party and its great turn out with fondness. We bought pizza and the first drink for all the attendees, after that, they were on their own.
Just before the food arrived, my husband said to me, “Let’s come here once a week. Let’s make it a standing date night.”
“That sounds fantastic.” I said.
We have been looking for places in our city to frequent often so that the staff will recognize our faces, and possibly after several months, get to know our names. My husband and I are more often than not just faces in the crowd. We are frequently anonymous, and we want to be more of a part of our city and the life that goes on here.
My husband has his job (where of course he is well known), we have a group of friends that we hang out with on a fairly regular basis, I know some writers, and my husband has his regular volunteer work at the soup kitchen (where he is also well know), but the truth is we still spend a lot of time just the two of us together. We want to belong more to our city, and the people who live here.
Last night we went back to the pizza place for our first date night there. The young men who work there are always quick with their smiles (they seems so genuinely happy). I only recognized one of them from when we were there last weekend, and I’m not sure he recognized us.
Since my husband and I went public with my diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia approximately five to six months ago, we have really come out of our protective shell.
In the age of cell phones and selfies, Facebook and Twitter, this is the opposite approach most people are taking. Most people want to create what the world sees of them. We want to look people in the eyes, hear their voices, and make a real connection that has nothing to do with putting on our best face. Our real faces will do. We would like to shake people’s hands, look them in the eyes, and share a few stories or laughs that don’t require hitting a like button.
I guess we want to step back in time a little, leave technology at home, practice our social skills, and be more involved in the vibrant, beautiful, amazing lives that are going on all around us.
If you are out today and you see a woman and man with their heads buried in their phones texting or updating their Facebook status, that isn’t us.
We’ll be the ones talking to servers in restaurants, having a conversation with the cashier, smiling at the people who cross our path, and holding hands and having a conversation about our hopes and dreams. If you see us, stop us, and let’s have a chat, because this is the stuff real life is made of and it won’t be a status on Facebook.