For all our married years, Tom and I had scores of nights out together, but we also had nights out separately. I went out with girlfriends — to bars, movies, outings he had no interest in — while he went out with his guy friends. This worked well; it might not work for everyone, but it was healthy for our marriage.
His nights out were called Boys Night Out, or BNO. He had a couple of good buddies and their nights out had a format: check out a new bar somewhere nearby or downtown and end the night at a friend of ours who owns a downtown bar that features live music most nights of the week. (Or, at least, I think this is what they did.) Sometimes I’d hear about his nights; I’d share anything interesting about my night out.
So after Tom died, his “boys” would sometimes invite me along. My first year as a widow, I went out with them every couple months and it made me feel loved and comforted. Oddly enough, it provided a connection to Tom, and I think my presence, in some odd way, provided them with the same thing.
They included me in their Friday or Saturday frolics just like I was one of the boys. We had good conversation and drinks at new downtown spots. We’d go hear a band at a young, hipster bar. They didn’t stray far from my side when we went to our friend’s bar. They’d buy me drinks and we’d shoot the shit with each other and regular bar patrons they knew. Our friend, the owner, would give us a bit of his time. I liked their subtle protectiveness.
The second year I was asked out less by the boys, but that was OK. I started dating someone and felt it was time not to be so protected. When I stopped dating, I started thinking about how I might join the boys for a BNO and meet someone new. But, honestly, I wasn’t comfortable with that around them and didn’t venture far from their fun-loving sides.
This year, the outings are more rare, but I had a recent enjoyable BNO. I met the guys at a local bar because I didn’t want to stay out late, which they like to do. We shared laughs and the warmth was still there.
I hope we keep this going; I need an occasional BNO. Not only is it good to have male buddies I’m comfortable with, but there’s a little piece of Tom in those guys, and I don’t want to ever let go of that.