Remember that evite Mr. Fresh Scratch sent me a couple of weeks ago? In it, he invited me on a “photo safari” date in Tacoma. He knows I religiously check my email dozens of times a day, so he was trying to speak my language with an evite. “Photo Safari?” Also speakin’ my language. Because, you know, in case you haven’t noticed, I kind of take a lot of pictures.
I don’t usually talk much about marriage here, much less my own marriage. But if you’re a part of one, you know it can be a tough old haul. Especially when you have kids. And when you also have hopes and dreams (which, I hope, you each do) that may be separate from your partner’s.
Mr. Fresh Scratch is a musician. I am a writer. We both are parents to two young, lovely
monsters daughters who require a lot of attention. We both are teachers by day.
That doesn’t always leave a lot of time for wearing the hat of “husband” or “wife” in the way it deserves to be worn.
We each have been working hard on this marriage project in the last year or so. It seems like so many people in our inner circle are splitting up and, naturally, we don’t want that to be us. I mean, we are rapidly approaching nine years since our awesome wedding, and that’s something to be proud of. I realize more and more with each passing year just how proud I should be of each anniversary.
One thing we are very good at is going on a monthly date. We have been trying really hard to get better at the smaller, every-day things, too, to say, “I notice you. I am so glad you are my partner. You pretty much rock.” It boils down to something Will Smith (ahem. I know. I am referencing Will Smith.) said to Oprah about his marriage to Jada Pinkett-Smith; something akin to putting the health of your marriage before everything else in your life together, even before your kids. Because the two of you are the entire reason the rest exists, so if that’s not good, how do you expect the rest to be?
Will Smith: wisdom for all.
So these are images from our big photo safari date in Tacoma last weekend.
This is the Presbyterian Church in the Stadium District. Tacoma has a ton of awesome architecture. We didn’t get to most of it. I kind of focused heavily on food, so there wasn’t time to oogle at every awesome structure. But this church is where we went first. I loved the old bricks, stained glass, and touches of copper. It’s fun to look at buildings nearby as if you were a tourist in Europe. The mindset gives everything a wonderful quality.
The day gave us the usual,”If you don’t like the weather in western Washington, wait five minutes,” flavor. Watch the clouds change over the entire post of pictures.
From the church, we walked to King’s Books.
I am usually the one to plan each date, and plan them I do. To every minute detail. What can I say? I am a planner. It took me a little bit to sit back and just go with it on this day. Mr. had researched some places to go that he thought we’d both enjoy, but he also wanted to keep it loose. This meant that we drove all over and doubled back to a lot of districts. Kind of like an old “Family Circus” comic where they’d show the trail of where the kid walked on the way home, meandering all sorts of weird places.
King’s Books is supposed to be Tacoma’s answer to Powell’s Books in Portland. Um. I don’t know that it meets that standard. It’s not remotely as large (but that’s fine with me; Powell’s actually overwhelms me to the point of needing to sit down. I have sworn it off.), but it does have an eclectic mix of new and old. It also has a cat named Atticus. I spent a lot of time looking at the cooking section. And the kids’ section; why do I always gravitate toward kid stuff when I am away from them?!
It did not have my book club book. Darn.
After the book store, we walked back past the church and down to Stadium High School. Remember 10 Things I Hate About You with Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger? It was filmed at this high school.
How’d you like to go to biology class here every day? Or, more applicable to me, how’d you like to teach here every day? Tacoma is very attractive to me, but I think I’ll keep Olympia as my home-base, thanks very much.
Anyway, it reminds me of Hogwarts.
It was actually built at the turn of the century (nineteenth to twentieth, people) as a grand hotel on the railroad line. But it didn’t work out. It sat empty for a bit. Then the school district bought it and made it into an amazing school with the best views in Tacoma. Dale Chihuly, glass-blower extraordinaire, graduated from this place.
And here’s the stadium. It was actually built for the city, not the school. It first sat 40, 000. However, eventually a lot of seats had to be taken out because the weight of the stadium was pushing it down the gulch toward Puget Sound. Gulp.
It hosted Teddy Roosevelt, Bob Hope, and Babe Ruth. I think, if I taught here, I’d go to every football game.
And then it was time for lunch. This is where I had to insert some of my ideas. I had a list of about five restaurants I’d been wanting to try. To be fair and let it be “his date,” he got to choose from my list. Chuckle.
Naturally, he chose the hot dog place, The Red Hot. I am so glad he did! It’s located on Sixth Avenue, and it has a ton of hot dogs on the menu. It also had a million beers on tap, lots of great wines served in mason jars, and a very friendly staff. Oh, and did I mention it’s super-cheap? Yes. It is. Another reason to love it.
I had no idea there were this many ways to dress up a hot dog. I kept it simple with “The Tacoma,” which included fresh tomato, sport peppers (I liked them! They were too hot for Mr., which blew me away. Usually I won’t even eat a jalepeno.), a pickle spear, and celery salt. Celery salt, I have learned, is the key way to top off a hot dog. It just takes it up a notch.
Mr. Fresh Scratch got the Reuben Dog. Lots of saurkraut, Thousand Island dressing, and deli mustard.
From 6th Ave, we walked around the homes in the Procter District, home of my fave grocery store, The Metropolitan Market. Since I had just been there earlier in the week on a date with myself which also included a day at the spa, we kept it short and then headed down the hill to Old Town Tacoma.
There’s not much there besides a beautiful view of the Sound, some businesses, a couple of coffee shops, and The Spar, a great old bar I haven’t been to in years.
It was such a beautiful day.
After Old Town, which didn’t take long at all, we headed back downtown to the Corina Bakery, where we’d gone this past winter. We got a Valhalla brownie and read our books. I finished Truth Like the Sun, a very satisfying read.
We strolled up the hill to Wright Park, which is Tacoma’s answer to Central Park, if Central Park were much, much smaller. It has a terrific playground and sprayground, a big pond, over 150 different species of trees, and this lovely conservatory. We sat on a bench by the pond for a long time.
We wrapped it up with dinner at another restaurant from my list. This time, we ate at Masa, also on 6th Avenue. I am sorry to tell you we will not be returning. The service was epically slow. But at least it was happy hour, where I decided to test my new-found love of spicy pepper by ordering their Diablo Margarita, which included muddled jalepenos. Let’s just say I don’t think I love peppers as much as I was starting to hope.
If you need a day to connect with your spouse – and, really, who doesn’t? – and you live near Tacoma, I encourage you to check it out. It’s has lots of hidden gems that will keep you busy, and it may be just what you need to keep the home fires burning.