I look at them and think about the nights my wife, Elise, and I went out before we had a child—and in that brief moment I envy the babyless couple deeply. I envy their ability to sit in the dark and grope each other, to not be balancing another person, to go home and make love without putting someone else to sleep first.
And then, in the same breath, I don't envy them, or at least I'm not bothered that I envy them. I think about how Elise and I have done what they are doing, and now we are doing something else. And how that something else—going to a movie with a baby—is pretty cool in its own right. Something we can do precisely because we have a baby. And as I move on past the babyless couple—they've come up for air, the guy has moved his hand to the other breast—it occurs to me that they might be on the same hill as us, just a bit further up the slope.
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I return to our couch and hand our daughter to Elise and ask her what I missed. "Not much," she says, smiling. I put my arm around her shoulders. Zoë slips a hand up her shirt. We sink into the couch, all three of us intent on the flickering light of the screen.