Of course, Keith recently backed into a tree and shattered our vanís windshield, but since this was his one and only infraction in our whole marriage, we viewed it as an aberration rather than a pattern. So when he went to buy a new car this fall, he bought a standard. I canít drive a standard. So I canít drive his car. Iím still trying to figure out if thereís some hidden meaning there.
Keith and I have other differences, too. Keith has the ďall the lights in the house must be turned off if not neededĒ gene. Iím missing that one. His idea of a relaxing afternoon is to actually relax. I like taking energetic bike rides. He likes war movies. I like Jane Austen. Weíre a strange pair.
And yet, as celebrated our sixteenth anniversary just before Christmas, what most often occurs to me is how alike weíve become. Who we are, I believe, is partly a function of who we grow to be as we walk, day to day, with those we love.
People who know me may be surprised by this, but I tend to be on the shy side. I didnít speak outside of the house until I was seven. Today I make my living speaking at womenís events and retreats, often in front of large groups, which doesnít bother me in the least. But parties, where I have to talk to one on one, are stressful. How do I keep the conversation going? I donít find it natural at all.
Itís not natural for Keith, on the other hand, to shut up. And as weíve been married, heís taken me to so many parties that Iíve begun to open up. But heís also started to quiet down. Had we not married, he might have been even more gregarious, and I may have become more introspective.
Or take food. I crave sweets, but not fat or salt. Keith, on the other hand, once drank a cup of bacon grease because someone dared him. I often have a craving for vegetables. Keith had to force himself to start eating them regularly. If Keith hadnít married me, heíd likely be a lot heavier than he is right now. And Iíd probably still never know wonderful real butter makes everything taste.
Iíve always loved to travel, and even before we were married I had seen a lot of the world, saving up my money from my jobs as a teen to tour around overseas. But my trips were confined to museums and tourist attractions. Keith, on the other hand, likes to get to know people. Over our years together weíve ventured further abroad, most recently to Kenya. Within five minutes he knew our driverís life story. The porter in our final hotel told him all about his education. Keith finds a way to draw out people I would never have normally talked to, and Iím gradually learning, too. If I had my initial instincts, we would have seen the world, but only from a distance. And if Keith had his, we never would have seen it at all.