Last May, my husband and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary by eating takeout from Chicken Bucket and hanging out with our toddler at home. It was fun, but it wasn’t, you know, amazing. (No offense Chicken Bucket.)
So when our close friends told us they really, really wanted to babysit our two-year-old for a weekend (really), we decided to take them up on it. From 11 a.m. Saturday to 11 a.m. Sunday, we were footloose and childfree. Here’s how we ended up spending our time:
Our first stop was the McColl Center for Art and Innovation.
I love art, and the McColl Center is one of my favorite places in Charlotte. It’s free (suggested $5 donation), it has easy (free) parking, and its art is always interesting.
Pre-child, I went on the regular, but I realized on our drive into uptown, that it’d been two years since we’d visited so obviously we had to go. Its current exhibit is called “The World is a Mirror for My Freedom,” and it’s about race in America.
Is art about police brutality, black masculinity and making the universe “grape” again super romantic? Nope. But it was thought provoking and important (and it was way easier to take in and consider minus our toddler).
After I got my art fix, it was time to focus on good food and adult beverages (two things that help keep a marriage together!).
It was my first time at 5Church, and I had many thoughts.
First thought: Am I the only one who feels like I’m going to fall out of the high-top chairs? Everyone else seems pretty chill, but there is a large amount of wobbliness occurring over here.
Second thought: My bloody mary is super good (but not so impressive that it’s related to previously mentioned wobbliness).
Third thought: My husband’s order of shrimp and grits looks way, way better than my Irish breakfast. (He eventually shared his meal with me because marriage.)
Fourth thought: That’s the guy from Top Chef!
Essex Bar and Bistro
I had not heard of Essex. It was not at all on my “Maybe I should go there” radar. (Clearly I had not been keeping up with my Charlotte Agenda reading.)
Then I told one of my friends about my Uptown date day, and she strongly suggested it.
We went, and it was awesome.
The waiter sold us on the brussel-sprout salad by telling us “Everyone seems to like it, but it’s warm, which I think is really weird for a salad.”
I was 100 percent in. Our waiter continued to be perplexed.
The salad was epic (in a warm, brussels sprout caesar salad kind of way).
We also had fancy beverages and toasted our marriage to the sounds of angry street preachers and aggressively loud sidewalk cleaners. (I think we’ll eat inside next time.)
Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
With brunch and a split brussel-sprout salad under our belt, we went to the Belk Theater to see “A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night.”
It was super good.
This year is our first post-child year with season tickets to the Blumenthal’s Broadway Lights series.
Are my husband and I always the youngest people at the Saturday matinee? You betcha!
Does it make us feel young, vibrant and alive? Indeed.
After the play, we checked into the Courtyard Marriott (and took a parking garage selfie for no discernable reason).
Do you want to know what I like about hotels? There is no way for me to wash dishes or catch up on laundry when inside a hotel room.
Can I clean up the toy clutter? I cannot.
Do I even need to even consider what lurks underneath my living-room sofa? Strong no.
And: For at least five minutes I thought the fancy apartment we could look down into might belong to Michael Jordan. It doesn’t, but it was fun to consider.
For dinner we went to Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen, which was delicious.
I ordered fried oysters, and they were fantastic, but my husband’s goat cheese ravioli was way better. (I don’t know what was happening with that ravioli, but it was magical and I wanted in on it.)
He shared a little of it with me, which really speaks to his generous spirit and the probability of us celebrating a 10th anniversary.
After dinner, we went to the Knight Theater to see comedian (and podcaster!) Marc Maron perform.
Oh man, that is the best venue.
It has the Firebird outside of it (obviously a beautiful and fun piece of art — call it the disco chicken if you must, but I think that hurts her feelings), and it’s a lovely, intimate setting with great acoustics.
Marc Maron went off mic several times because he was so into the sound quality. Pretty exciting stuff.
Speaking of exciting — when I was recounting our adventures, the friends who took care of our child were surprised we didn’t go out after the show. What? No bars? No Epicenter? You didn’t live it up? You don’t currently have a hangover? No, we didn’t. But we did get a full night’s sleep with no potty-training adventures interrupting it, and that, dear friends, is worth its weight in gold.
The final lap of our childfree 24 hours involved sleeping past 6 a.m. (woo hoo!) and drinking absurd amounts of coffee from very large cups.
I went to Ink-N-Ivy because I read that it’s not especially toddler friendly.
We don’t have our toddler with us! Let’s go and not be awkward! We showed up at 10 a.m. when exactly zero other Ink-N-Ivy customers were up and ready for brunch.
Then, we enjoyed tremendous amounts of coffee and chowed down. For the first time in our fifth-anniversary celebration, my meal choice was better than my husband’s (yummy crabcakes and grits vs. a kinda boring chicken sandwich).
Obviously, I shared with him. Isn’t that what marriage is all about?