Sunday, August 16, 2009
We and us for 23 years
So, who is this "we" that I write about all the time? We built our own house. We put up a new fence. We built chicken tractors. It's time for true confessions -- if "we" ever do anything that involves power tools or large amounts of physical strength, it generally means that I came up with the idea and my husband Mike did all the hard work.
But if you've been married for a while, you can understand the fine line between me and we. Today is our 23rd anniversary, and there doesn't seem to be much difference between me and we sometimes. (I know psychologists have a word for that.) On one hand, we are total opposites. On the other hand, we compliment each other perfectly. On our wedding day 23 years ago, people thought I was being mean to Mike when I scooped all the frosting off my piece of cake and put it in his mouth. On the contrary, frosting is his favorite part, and I don't like it. He's an engineer; I have degrees in English and communication. He likes making things; I like reading and researching.
So, when I say "we" built the house, it means that I looked at house plan books for years, finally bought a plan, then made a number of changes in the floor plan and roof elevation, handed it to Mike, who then built it with an old-fashioned hammer and other tools. When he needed extra hands to lift a wall into place or something like that, the kids and I helped. I also cooked three exquisite meals a day, so he'd have enough strength to work like Paul Bunyan 14 to 18 hours a day.
And I also dragged him out of the master bedroom closet one night to save him from his perfectionism. When I woke up at 1 a.m. alone, I immediately thought he'd fallen off a ladder and knocked himself into a coma, so I went running to the new house. I found him standing in the closet staring at the top of a wall. "It's not straight!" he said, clearly disgusted.
I looked up at the two-by-fours. "It's in our closet. No one will ever see it." I took his hand and tried to pull him toward the door. "It's time for bed."
"But it's not straight. It's going to mess up everything in here."
I finally convinced him that he needed some sleep and that it would look better in the morning. Of course, being an engineer, he doesn't think about the way things look! The measurements don't lie! He did finally agree, however, that it was not worth the time to tear down that wall and redo it for 1/4 inch of perfection inside a closet. (Now when he reads this, he will no doubt tell me that it was 1/8 inch or 3/4 inch, as if my blogpals need to know the exact fraction of error.)
When "we" built the chicken house and the chicken tractors, I did hours and hours of research, then sat down with him to develop a plan that would work for our site, and he put it all together. I do the research on how to care for the animals, and when I need his physical strength, he helps. Right now, we're working on a new fencing plan. So, you can see how we work together towards a common goal, each contributing our own unique gifts and strengths.
It might seem implausible that two such different people could ever be happy together for 23 years, but our goals keep us headed in the same direction. We both value healthy lifestyles and organic food. And we push each other towards our own personal goals. I keep nudging Mike towards his goal of creating a car that can operate without ever visiting a gas station. He is always asking me about my latest writing project, and if you enjoy reading my blog, you can thank him for reminding me to post often.