As I was sitting down to write this, my husband began dancing a gleeful jig around our kitchen. Not because he knew I was going to be occupied for the next hour or so (actually, that may have been part of it), but because he’d had a breakthrough.
He knew how he was going to use the empty jug of washer fluid and a leftover PVC pipe to create an automatic water dispenser for our cat.
I know. What an amateur. As if it isn’t patently obvious how to fashion feline plumbing out of recyclable plastic.
In his defense, he had just turbo-vacuumed his car in the driveway wearing nothing but a flannel shirt and jeans. His brain was tired. And potentially frozen through.
The event does serve, though, as yet another example of the many, many, mahahahany ways he and I are different. Opposites, you might say. Yet here we are, almost nine years married.
We met at the end of our sophomore year in college. He was wearing threadbare corduroy pants, a white V-neck T-shirt, and espadrilles. His shoulder-length hair was pulled back with a faded bandanna I later learned he had found on the beach in his native Puerto Rico. He was smoking a cigarette, and his girlfriend was sitting on his lap.
I was wearing something off the Ann Taylor sales rack, mixed with some baubles from the Banana Republic discount line. My freckles were blinking on my face, and my hair was an electric mess pointing in the direction of “away.” I was likely carrying a book and doing my best impression of a girl who did not feel totally out of her league. (It was a terrible impression.)
We were introduced. He immediately captivated me; I made zero impact. The next time we spoke, he was asking me for the homework assignment from the class we were about to enter. He had no idea who I was; I was nervous he’d caught me doodling “Abby Diaz.”
After he dated three or four other nationalities, we finally began dating just before our senior year started. We then went to law school together, and married a few months after graduation. We could be the counter-point to almost every point about relationships.
He grew up gathering mangoes in his backyard and going to the beach after school. He created games using tamarind seeds and lived for weeks without running water after a bad hurricane. He saw the “Rambo” movies in theaters.
The first time I saw a mango, I thought someone had done a science experiment with an avocado. I went to the beach when my parents got adventurous in the summer. I think a tamarind is from the woodwind family of instruments, and hurricanes scare me if they don’t get pushed out to sea by the Carolinas. I saw “Beauty and the Beast” in theaters.
His idea of a nice meal is steak, rice and beans. Mine is take-out. He can fix leaky faucets, trap mice and make child safety gates out of a discarded trellis. I can Google plumbers, exterminators and Target. He wanted to make our house more homey, so he bought six chickens. I’m still looking for curtains.
He has haggled with AT&T and now they pay us. He taught himself to roast a pig and hosted 20 for dinner later that day. He never looked happier than he did the summer afternoon that he backed into our driveway with a wood chipper. I dislike confrontation, can make eggs explode in the microwave, and think dandelion removal is exhausting.
While our differences were clear from the outset, I’m not sure they were what (finally) drew us together. And although they certainly keep things interesting today, I’m equally unconvinced that they’re the reason we still like each other.
Because underneath all the quirks and preferences and hobbies are two outlooks on life that overlap in the right places: money (save it), religion (go easy), kids (cute), marriage (be nice), and Disney World (totally overwhelming).
Opposites attract? More like opposites interact, similarities impact.
I’ve got to run. He’s trying to buy rabbits on Craigslist.