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Opposites Don’t Attach

May 24, 2013

So I Went To California.

Oh man. Where to start? A list of course!

  1. Old friends know different things about you than you know yourself.caption300wide-DK-Back-Roads-California
  2. Airports/Airplanes are awesome. (So is leaving notes for your friends to find behind vending machines months later). This trip I got to meet a friend of mine at her gate because my flight landed just a few minutes before hers, and I had serious butterflies as I watched the people emerge from the gate to see their new world for the first time. It had been about two years since we’d last met in person and that hug at the gate is now in my top ten hugs of all time.
  3. Always buy cupcakes from kids’ bake sales.
  4. Relationships are hard. I finally met the long-term boyfriends of my two good friends from high school and found myself feeling afraid to ever become like them. Don’t get me wrong, they were mostly happy and we all had a great time, but how do you know if the good outweighs the bad? How do you start over once you’re that attached? How do you know you’re happy enough? To be honest I saw more reasons for their guys to break up with my friends than the other way around, how do get out of a relationship if you might feel like you’re the one making it difficult? I’m going to be alone forever.
  5.  Germaphobes must hate beaches.
  6. Never say no to a free hug at a gay pride parade.
  7. We went to an art museum in LA (the Getty-SO GOOD) and joined a tour to get a feel for the place before we wandered on our own. Our guide was a young, normal looking girl, about 25 or so, and after only 20 minutes of listening to her talk about art I’d found myself a new role model. She knew everything about the museum but it was so much more than being able to answer every question we threw at her. You could tell she loved it, that she’d found her passion and had thrown herself into it. Even if she didn’t want to be a tour guide forever, I knew she was where she was supposed to be, gaining experience and learning all she could about a field she loved. images  want that, a field I love, a place I know I’ll enjoy no matter the level of experience I’m in. How do people choose that? How do you decide to be happy in one area and not be afraid to take the time you need to work up to the position you want? I want it all, and I’m afraid I’m going to end up with nothing.
  8. Sea Lions are cute ugly not ugly cute.
  9. Sleep is so important. But it’s also important to be able to put it on hold.
  10. I used to love talking to people on planes. But in the last few years I’ve become shy, reserved, I don’t know, somehow afraid to break the barrier. I take a deep breath to calm my anxiety every time someone sits down next to me, secretly hoping they’ll force conversation, though I always make sure to look the opposite of engaging. I love talking once we start, but it’s that jumping in part that freaks me the freak out. So I was pretty closed off on the plane back from Cali when a woman asked to switch seats with me so she could sit next to her son (who was at least 15 btw… I probably should have paid more attention to his body language for signs of kidnapping), and I ended up next to an attractive male close to my age.

This rarely happens on planes so I smiled to myself at the opportunity, fully planning to squander it by shyly absorbing myself in my book(which I hadn’t found a spare second to read all week) but as luck would have it this male peer was less apathetic than myself and put it upon himself to speak to me. Like many people, I tend to make jokes when I get nervous, so what could have been a short. “Hey, how are you. You’re nice for switching seats,” conversation turned into a full on flirt fest. (Also, who decided that feeling uncomfortable should be a sign of attraction anyway?).

Did I mention he was attractive? Nothing as perfect as the bus guy, but still and he was outgoing enough to make me bold. Before long we were really talking; he’d only flown once before and is the middle child of 5 boys, likes dirt bike racing and is on his way to becoming an EMT. I told him about my trip and my current lack of direction, why I fly on planes so much and what I miss about Seattle. It was nice and he was interesting; it had been a while since I’d held eye contact a few seconds too long. But as the flight continued and we got to know each other it became apparent that even if we lived close enough to date, I wasn’t interested.

He told me his family never vacationed together, that they’d never had the time or money to spend on things like that. He hadn’t gone to college and just quit his job of managing a Subway restaurant to join a year long church program that would eventually place him as an intern in his home church. He said he’d never really connected with his brothers. He said he knew exactly how his life would look from here on out. I liked him, I really did, but I travel all the time with my well –off family. I’m close with my brother and expect my children to get college degrees. I’m not religious and I have no idea what my future will bring. I found myself shocked as I realized these things mattered, even though they seem so secondary.

0671449036_largeIt’s terrible really, that a few external things can make such a difference, but as I’ve gotten older the more value I place on background and outlook in my relationships.

So why is it that a person’s background is such a turn on or off? Is it biological in that my ovaries aren’t willing to take the risk that he might turn out like his drunken brothers? Is it emotional in that I I’ll never be able to fully understand him? Or is it more about my privilege, wanting to find someone similar so I don’t have to feel guilty for being born into a happy home?When it comes to friendships, I feel like I gravitate toward people different than me; I crave adventure and new experiences. But I hold the people I date to a different standard, one that may well be impossible to meet. I want to be challenged, but apparently not by someone with less wealthy, outdoorsy and educated parents than myself. I want to choose my favorite passions, but I don’t want to fall in love with someone who thinks he has it figured out. I want to have children with a person who believes in magic, but not to raise them in a church.

I don’t know what it is, and part of me still hopes I’ll meet someone worth ‘overcoming’ our initial differences, but when I look at every happy couple in my life, they have most of those fundamental things in common. I used to believe opposites attract, but lately I feel more like the saying is opposites don’t attach.

We talked the rest of the flight, learning about each other and discussing philosophy and emotions. I got him to admit to feeling lonely and left out by his brothers and he got me to talk about what I want in the future. I learned a lot and had a wonderful time. I even got to debate religion with him. But I stopped worrying what he thought. We were different, and no matter what else we found in common, we’d always be platonic.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2013 9:42 pm

    I’m glad you made a friend on the plane. I was just talking to my hubby last night about how awkward I am when it comes to initiating conversations with strangers. I just can’t do it. It’s something I’ll need to work on, but it scares the crap out of me. So good for you for actually getting real with someone you haven’t known forever. I think I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said here…opposites might sometimes attract, but there’s a difference between that initial attraction and being able to commit to someone forever. Because, let’s face it: you’re setting yourself up for a lot of problems if you think you’re going to marry and raise a family with someone who believes fundamentally different things than you. I’ll admit, there have been certain guys I’ve met in my life that I knew I could never be with because they were super different from me in terms of our education and socio-economic background. Maybe that’s shallow, but you can’t really help who you’re attracted to, and there’s no shame in realizing that there are other factors that matter besides a person’s personality and physical appearance. HOWEVER, I assure you that you will not end up alone–not unless you want to. And I believe you’ll find your passion (you already have so many), although our passion doesn’t always have to be our 9-5 job.

    • May 25, 2013 11:16 am

      True that Cindy, I’ve got enough passions to build a city. But the problem is picking one to make money with. I like enough things, you’d think I’d be able to turn one into a career. Seriously, this girl was SO AWESOME, i just want to care about anything that much(or as much as Merskank cares about being the best medievalist ever.) and as for the alone thing, you’re right there too. I definitely block, you’ll have to give me a crash course on commitment sometime soon. Or teach me to cuddle.

      the key to stranger conversations is finding something to care about. Sometimes i focus on getting the person to open up as much as possible, other times i try to get them to teach me something I don’t know. Or you just have to force yourself to care about them enough to try to make their life better. But all that isn’t possible until someone makes the first move-and it usually isn’t me so I can’t help you there.

      p.s. I miss your face. Figure out a way to sneak me into saudi so i can crash in one of your twenty new bedrooms in that mansion of yours.

      • May 25, 2013 7:55 pm

        There’s only one way–you have to marry my brother. That might just solve all your problems in one fell swoop…you can practice commitment on someone who is vastly different from you!

      • May 25, 2013 8:14 pm

        that sounds like a movie title. You have to marry my brother. fun!

        and you joke, but that is still the plan. (I had an urge to reach out to him today btw… but i think I’ll just wait a few more years and then make my move.)

  2. May 24, 2013 9:42 pm

    AND, I love you and your blogs. Welcome back, SB!

  3. thelittlemerskank permalink*
    May 25, 2013 2:55 am

    Sleeping Booty- thanks for your post. It sounds like you had a fantastic time in California! Seeing old friends is the best.

    I think your point about the guy on the plane is true: as we get older all of sudden we start thinking more seriously about potential partners and the question becomes not only ‘am I attracted to them’ but do they fit into my life. I think this is true, and it’s actually a problem that has been causing me some stress recently. Although I find it slightly funny that this post is coming from you, in that I remember a certain not-so-distant conversation where Sleeping Booty indicated that I might have been being too hard on myself, relating to a guy with whom I have certain significant incompatibilities…

    • May 25, 2013 11:07 am

      PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write more about it. I’ve really had a hard time understanding what you’ve been going through and sitting and talking to that kid on the plane just made everything so clear. It’s so much harder when your pasts and future don’t line up, even if everything else is perfect. The interesting thing for you and your man(the one you’re going to tell the blog MUCH more about in coming posts) is that you only have a few things that don’t line up, instead of a ton. Though they are major- English isn’t even his first language! So I’d be interested to hear more about how you’re feeling about it. Do you think there is a line that everything just becomes too much? If you found out tomorrow one more thing that was so different from you would it tip the scale out of favor? I know you like him, but do you think if more things lined up you’d actually find him more physically attractive?

      You know I’m still pulling for you two, even if only to get a few more epic love letters out of the deal. He’s willing to work to make more of those external basics line up and I think so are you. So yes, in my theoretical heart I think people should be different to challenge and better each other, but I finally understand that in reality that life is really really hard.

  4. snowwhore permalink*
    May 30, 2013 11:25 am

    I understand what you’re saying about opposites, and I do think you should have some fundamentals lined up. But I actually want to contradict your statement about needing someone of the same background. Becuase while I grew up in a happy, two educated parents, middle class religious home, my husband grew up poor with a single, uneducated mom, and never set foot in a church until he was fifteen. And I think that coming from different backgrounds has helped us help each other grow a lot. I’m able to help encourage him and make him realize that he is more than what he’s done in the past. He’s able to call me out on my BS and help me realize the real worth of things and people I might otherwise pass by. I don’t think your argument is completely invalid because of course you need to have things in common–but I honestly don’t think what kind of family he grew up in is ultimately important.

    • May 30, 2013 11:39 am

      SW! I’ve missed your comments! Totally agree with every word you said, challenging your perspectives helps to make you better people. And of course background isn’t always a deal breaker, you kids are one of my favorite couples on the planet. But. Really. Until last week I didn’t really get it, that you’re definitely always going to have a harder time than say Cinderslut who’s background mirrors her hubby’s. It might end up being better (battle of the couples!) but it’s always going to be a challenge.


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