“Do you want to take a walk after dinner?” John asked me, smiling over his nearly empty plate.
I took another sip of my Riesling and then glanced out the window at the couples and families strolling past, enjoying the beautiful weather of St. Charles, Illinois. “Do you think we have time?”
“Oh yes,” he said, checking his watch. “We’ll have at least 30 minutes before we should head over to the Arcada Theatre to get our seats.”
“Okay.” I finished my last bite and leaned back in my chair. We had planned this getaway to have a little fun and relaxation, and our delicious dinner had gotten us off to a great start. John paid the bill and the two of us made our way to the door. A warm breeze greeted us as we stepped out onto Main Street—bars, restaurants and little shops lined both sides of the street. I peeked into each one as we passed, trying to decide where we should grab a drink after the show.
Tempted by shops
“Let’s go this way,” John said, guiding me down the street toward the Main Street Bridge, which spans the Fox River. I was delighted with the view; shimmering blue water flowing gently out of sight, dipping behind a park filled with tall, lush trees and bright flowers. We paused to sit on a bench halfway across the bridge, and I leaned against John’s shoulder, listening to the happy chatter of a few families passing behind us and watching the birds soaring merrily in the sky. After a few minutes, I stood up, eager to see a bit more of the city before the show.
We crossed the street and strolled hand-in-hand down the Riverwalk, through a beautiful park, past a grand waterfront pavilion, only stopping near a golf course with an island green. From here, I could see several boats puttering on the wide river, people laughing and talking on decks.
Heading back toward the theater, a window display caught my eye. The most adorable vintage doll was perched on a doll-sized rocking chair, her curly brown hair peeking haphazardly from a blue bonnet. It looked so much like our granddaughter, Evy, and I knew she would love it. I was just about to head into the shop when John tugged on my hand, laughing. “Sorry, Kristen, we don’t have time. The show’s going to start soon and I want to get to our seats!”
“I know, but wouldn’t Evy love that doll? Her birthday is next month, and it’s just perfect for her,” I said. Signs for a bookstore and other boutiques caught my attention as we were passing; my favorite author just released a new book that was in stock. “I don’t know, John, I may need to skip the show and go shopping!” I joked. I looked eagerly at the shops up the street, then followed John toward the theater.
We had bought tickets for this show weeks ago and had been looking forward to our visit. The sun had just dipped below the horizon and the flashing sign above the Arcada Theatreglowed brightly with upcoming shows. “Oh, look at that one—we have to come back!” I said, clutching John’s arm. My excitement for the show put shopping out of my head as we made our way to our seats; the elegant 1920s vaudeville hall was full and John and I settled in, only a few minutes before the start. The murmuring crowd around us quieted as the lights dimmed. I leaned forward; we had been talking about this weekend for so long and I was thrilled that it had finally arrived. The performers were incredibly talented, and I tapped my toes in time with the music.
After the show, we exited the theater into a vibrant night scene. Bars and restaurants still in full swing beckoned us with their twinkling lights and spacious outdoor patios. “Grab a drink?” John asked me, reading my thoughts. I nodded and we strolled down the street to have a drink and compare our favorite parts of the show.
The next morning, John woke up early and had coffee and a croissant from a local coffee shop waiting for me. I slowly stretched and ate my breakfast, wishing that every weekend could feel like this—both relaxing and full of prospects. John and I had planned some “me time” for the morning, each of us indulging in our own pursuits. John had his sights set on a classic cardisplay at Baltria while I headed to the spa for a massage. I was still hoping to return to the antique shop to purchase the doll I’d spotted the previous night, but since I’d booked the massage ahead of time, it would have to wait a bit longer. The soft, tinkling music and relaxing foot massage nearly put me to sleep again, and I felt the harried busyness so characteristic of my life these days melt away.
John was waiting for me outside, and I was slightly relieved to see that he hadn’t traded our car in for a classic just yet. “How are you feeling?” He said, laughing, opening the door for me.
“Good! You look relaxed,” John said enthusiastically. He launched into a long description of what he had seen at the auto museum, then he paused. “I know we were going to drive back now, but we didn’t get to see so much of St. Charles last night. And I know you were pretty excited about those shops—what if we stayed a little longer to do some shopping? I agree that Evy would really love that doll and maybe we could try out that island green. What do you think?”
I leaned over and kissed him. “That would be just perfect!”