Thursday, October 15, 2015

Throwback: Phantom

Back when we first got married, we spent our first few weeks still living in our separate dorm rooms, waiting for our first of the month paychecks and the allowances that would help us to pay the rent in our tiny, expensive apartment. We lived down the road from the Pentagon—a nice address, to be sure, but for us it was one of necessity. We couldn't afford a commute or 2 cars, and I could walk from our place to work. We had second-hand furniture, mis-matched everything and just enough money to pay the bills. But we were young, we were in love and it was glorious.

I don't remember how it came about, but we had tickets to see Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center. I'm sure we bought the tickets well ahead of time and perhaps even at a discount. He had a new black shirt and tie, I had a pretty jade green dress. I think we planned to grab a sandwich before our ride came to pick us up to head downtown.

At dinner. He had the scallops. I think mine was chicken.
But then the people we attended the show with had other plans, they booked dinner for us all at the rooftop restaurant at the theater. This was payday weekend, lucky for us, and we were too embarrassed to say no, can't afford it. Plus, they were our ride. Have you ever tried to park in DC? So, yeah. We took our last $100 and made it work.

It was the fanciest restaurant I'd ever been to. The waiters held out our chairs and put the napkins in our laps. In between courses, they cleaned off the table with tiny little brooms and dustpans. I knew to use the utensils from the outside in and if I remember correctly, the waiter was very nice, meaning that he didn't look down his nose at me even though I was so obviously out of my element. We watched our pennies closely, drank water though we wanted wine, and we kept to our budget.

Rooftop at the Kennedy Center.
When we entered the theater, our seats were in the balcony, center. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when she went to the opera—the overwhelmed feeling of bearing witness to an incredible beauty I'd never thought within reach. Yes, a little hyperbolic, but this is Andrew Lloyd Weber, people; he's no stranger to the hyperbole.

The show was gorgeous. The night was sparkling. I felt like Cinderella, peeking into an existence that I'd only heard about. We went home to our tiny apartment with other people's furniture in it, took off our fancy clothes and talked about our night. We'd spent all our money and were broke until payday, but it was totally worth it.

For the past 23 years, I've thought about the night, how much fun it was, and how I hated that we didn't have pictures to mark the occasion. Even this past weekend, we were at dinner telling friends about the night, how much fun it was.

And then, something magical happened again. My husband (who hates social media but joined Facebook begrudgingly) was forwarded a few pictures from that night by one of our companions from that evening. She had been going through old pictures and found a few. How thankful I was to see these! It was a moment right there at the beginning that's never far from mind.

We were so young. Our whole lives ahead of us, no idea where our adventures would take us. This was our first as a married couple. I see the boy I fell in love with in the city I adored. And that jade green dress is as pretty as I remembered it to be.


  1. Chazz Steiner8:55 PM

    Yes, that was a great show! It was the first (and only) time I ate at the Kennedy Center. I forgot about the picture on the rooftop.