I went to watch a movie at a friend’s house last night. Let me repeat that, because it is such an unusual and momentous thing. I am 34 years old, a mom of two little ones, and I went to watch a movie at a friend’s house last night.

If you are in high school or college and you read that, you think, What’s the big deal? This is how we have fun. This is how we spend our Wednesdays or Sundays and the occasional Tuesday. This is how we relax. And maybe even more than anything—this is how we are biding our time with the people we are with until this phase is over.

But if you are an adult—a parent of little ones, perhaps especially—like me, This. Is. Big. We don’t do this.

I’m not sure why that is. Maybe because our lives revolve around wiping noses, filling needs for water or snacks (All day long, the snacks. Am I right? Where does your 32 pound body fit 1,000 Animal Crackers?), drop offs and pickups, thoughts of what to do for Halloween. Between (and sometimes at the same time as or before) these things we are thinking of work, of laundry that needs to be folded, of bills that must be paid. By 7 pm, I have put in my 12 hours and I am done. Who has time for a movie? When we schedule, we are not often thinking of ourselves. We are planning playdates. Who will take this kid to soccer. Who will pick up the pie crust for the pot pie (P.S. Wally4, if you are reading this, can you do that for me tonight?).

And also, going back to the college reasons for watching a weeknight movie at a friend’s…once college is over, we no longer are with people who need to make friends at the same time as us. Throughout the first 21 years of our lives, we are forced into environments where friendships are natural. We walk into kindergarten and we look at each other and say, You are new, and I am new so let’s play tag. We walk into 8th Grade and we say to each other, You are wonderfully weird in the same ways I am, so let’s be friends. We walk into college and we make eye contact with the girls on our floor, and they are ours. But then, for the next however many years you are lucky to get, you will be on your own. And no one tells you that.

It took me a while to make friends in adulthood. This is partly because of the busy-ness of life. And it’s partly because of the new dynamics involved when there are multiple people—both my husband and I ought to be compatible with the other people so that “Should we go out?” can be an automatic “Yes!” And then add the element of kids, and it is nearly impossible. If all of the schedules, and babysitting arrangements, and parenting styles, and ideas of fun don’t mesh, it’s hard. And if the kids don’t get along, forget it. Add to all of that the element of awkwardness in “picking up” another mom at the playground—at some point one of you has to be like, “Can I get your number?” Yes, it is hard to make friends as the parents of little ones.

I have also found that adults are more careful. And perhaps this is our biggest obstacle. We all invite with care because we don’t want our plans to go awry if a kid is in a terrible mood. We are more private about what happens in our lives, maybe because so often it is messy. We want to give the impression that our lives are neat and tidy, and our 3 year old who wants animal crackers, but we don’t have any, but she WANTS THEM (imagine a scream/cry/exorcist-worthy tone there)—she is getting in the way of that impression.

With all of these obstacles, we forget about the fun bits of life—the restorative power of a few hours of easy fun with someone you enjoy.

Here is how the movie went down. I had read Pride and Prejudice for the first time in my life (the timing of which should be considered a crime since I majored in English and I am a major bookworm). A reader friend of mine is obsessed with the Keira Knightly version of the story. Obsessed. She listens to the soundtrack every night to fall asleep. She insisted that I must read the book, and then promptly scheduled a movie night when she knew I had finished.

And it was so so fun. We had PJs, and blankets, and a mutual love of cookie dough and my new favorite love story, P&P. There was no pomp and circumstance. It was no big deal. It was just like the good old days of college friendship—show up, enjoy.

It was that easy. It was just a friend sharing something she loved so much with another friend. I would discover that night, she knew every word in the script—even the sighs. She respectfully withheld from talking along, although I thoroughly enjoyed her occasional inability to resist. It made even the aside words take on a significance I may not have noticed.

Is this all it takes—this adult friendship thing? Sharing the simple love you have for something with someone else?

As I think about it, it is so much a main point of Pride and Prejudice. Society is requiring them to be formal—to do things in the normal and civilized way. To be neat and tidy and buttoned up. But when Mr. Darcy shows up in the last and best scene (which we watched twice, P.S.) he is rumpled, and he hasn’t slept, and Elizabeth does not care. They are doing their “crummy best”, as a friend of mine says, and that is where relationships happen. That is how we can connect—when we are just real, and we are sharing the joys that life has to offer with each other.

It reminds me of an idea another friend of mine invited our families to try called Crappy Dinners. Our families were compatible (which is, as mentioned above, a rare thing), and yet we realized we were hesitant to invite the other family for dinner. She heard of these Crappy Dinners, where you follow a few simple rules: 1. No shopping for additional ingredients—serve what you normally would be serving your family. 2. No cleaning or doing anything you wouldn’t normally do. 3. No bringing anything when you are the invitee. 4. Act surprised when you open the door, as if we are all just dropping by and you are inviting us to stay. We have tried this, and the tradition continues after 7-8 months. Once or twice a month, one of us says, “Are you guys free for crappy dinner?” and we all just drop on by. The low expectation involved keeps us up with it, and it is fun! We have had spaghetti, and soup, and tacos. Because we are not going for the fancy food, or the pomp and circumstance, or for the chance to admire their clean houses. We don’t want any of that. We want good company, and a chance to break bread together.

These simple joys are so easy—dinners, a movie, a few hours of sharing something you love with a friend. And because they can be so easy, we forget how important they are—how good for the soul. Maybe in college and high school we weren’t just doing them to pass the time. Maybe we were doing something more important—experiencing joy. Living deep. Sucking the marrow out of life.

We should do this more often.