Tuesday, July 20, 2010

That's the Way She Likes It

We are different, yet the same. We see things differently. We look at a building, I see the bricks, glass, and mortar, she sees the form, the design and the color, yet we both see the building where people live or work. I think the different helped us expand our visions, I know the same, kept us together.

We have the same background, the same raising. We both grew in Texas homes with both our birth parents; going to school, church, and eating dinner as a family at night. We both lived in small Texas towns separated by only 300 miles, basically the same geography, the same demography, the same other ‘ographys. But we grew up in different homes, with different views about important things. Different, but in so many ways, the same.

Nothing illustrates the point better than a trip Wendy’s, our favorite of the ubiquitous fast food franchises. Marty’s order was always the same, a number one, single, cut the onions and tomatoes, add ketchup and mayo, extra crispy fries and a diet coke with extra ice. My order, a number one with cheese. We both liked Wendy’s, we just go there different ways.

Marty always knew precisely what she wanted. When she went to college she knew from the moment she started she wanted to be a Speech Pathologist and she did that, me, not so much, I'm still not sure what I want to be if I grow up. Marty has always been bold enough to ask for exactly what she wants, it’s always been important to her. She wants her tots crispy from Sonic, me, I don’t care that much, it doesn’t make that much difference to me.

Different, yet somehow the same has always provided a contrasting sense of tension and an odd cohesion in our relationship. I always, check that, most of the time, I valued the different perspective, the different perception Marty had. I think in some way’s Marty was a bit jealous of my ability to simplify most tasks. Our differences, when nurtured, fed our relationship because we both had the same goal, success and satisfaction in the relationship itself.

I have always envied and marveled at Marty’s ability to frame choices. I often wished that as I dutifully slowed at the traffic light as it turned yellow I could have had Marty’s perception that opened up a whole world of opportunities for her other than the rule bound need to slow and stop. Yes, she could stop, or she could speed up, or she could just gracefully glide through the intersection weaving around the other cars. She always believed in the law, she just didn’t think it always had to be applied in the same way all of the time.

Sydney Harris, a writer and long time columnist for the Fort Worth Star Telegram, noted, “Man’s unique agony as a species consists in his perpetual conflict between the desire to stand out and the need to blend in.” It makes a lot of sense for understanding life; it makes a lot of sense in understanding our relationship.

We exemplify that conflict with Marty “standing out” and me blending in. It’s what we do; it makes us both a better partner for the other, it makes for a better and more productive relationship. We could always depend on the other to balance our natural inclinations.

The natural conflict of different, yet the same, hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worth the effort. I know I can be impatient, I know I am naturally inclined to the simple; I know I prefer, “give me a number one.” I also know how Marty likes it, and today, given the last five years, the differences seem like such a small thing. So, when I go to Sonic I say, “Give me extra crispy tots and would you throw in some ranch and marinara with that?”, because that's the way she likes it.

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