Diane Fairchild and I met at Accent European Lounge for dinner and drinks Tuesday evening. We've been meeting there more than any other location over the past year and this fact is noteworthy because Accent stands only a few feet away from the pre-fire location of the New York Bagel Café which was our traditional meeting place when we were a couple 28 years ago. Though December 7, 1985 was not the first time we had gone out together, it did mark the beginning of our romantic relationship.
Anyways, Diane and I met there on July 30, 2013 for dinner and drinks, and our conversation nicely wrapped up a conversation that I'd been having over the course of two weeks. Life sometimes seems to me to be a single, long conversation divided up into connected parts. Though each part is not necessarily discussed with the same person. Tuesday, July 30 was the conclusion of a conversation that began with Kaylyn Airey on Monday, July 22, continued on Saturday, July 27 with Lise Ellyhin, and concluded with Diane, tying together threads extrapolated from Helen Fisher's romantic personality typology as described in Why Him? Why Her?.
Actually, this starts on Sunday, July 21 with the visit from Johann Roth.
Johann is a high-school friend of Hannah's who visits us once per year and has just concluded the most horrific divorce proceedings I have ever heard of. After updating us on the grisly details, we actually segued into a discussion of Fisher's book which Johann has also read. I reported to him that administering the personality questionnaire to both Hannah and myself revealed to me how our relative personality-type rankings explain the ways in which we two are compatible, and our relative scores explained our problems.
Hannah and I love each other in a way that astonishes me. When I was single, I imagined that being married would be like having a permanent girlfriend. But 16 years later, I cannot think of a single way in which being married is similar to having a girlfriend except for the fact that a woman is involved. Being married is like being a family of two. Or rather, it isn't like
being a family of two, it is
a family of two. Marriage astonishes me for how it has created a bond of blood and bone from only time, words and experience. I was theorizing aloud to Hannah a few days ago about girlfriends and the peculiar blind-spots that seem to be an essential aspect of that rank, when I was interrupted by another thought.
"It's hard to believe that you were once my girlfriend," I observed.
"Yea," Hannah agreed. "How did that
happen?" Even in simple logistical terms it's surprising. With no common activities or interests, there was no reason we would have ever crossed paths with each other. And meeting strangers does not come easily to either of us so even if we did happen to be in the same place at the same time, it isn't as though we would've struck up a conversation. The answer, though, is we worked at the same place in the summer of 1993.
"If you were to ask us both," I said to Johann, "if Hannah and I are wrong for each other, we would both say 'no, we are not wrong for each other', but if you were then to ask if we are right for each other, again, we would both answer 'no'." Hearing myself explain this launched the koan that I've been cogitating upon for the past few weeks.
According to the Fisher framework, each personality type seeks a functional match in their romantic partners. Explorers want someone to explore with; a play-mate. Builders, Hannah's type, want practical home-bodies; a help-mate. Directors, my type, want to deeply explore anything that interests them with a mind-mate. I recently asked Hannah what she gets from our marriage, and without any knowledge of Fisher's book at all, she replied, "You have helped me in so many ways," and then listed things like personal and spiritual growth, sorting out family relationships, problem-solving, and keeping house. It was like Hannah was reading Fisher's Builders chapter out loud.
We Directors exist much more in our heads, in the stories we tell ourselves about what it means to be alive. Everything is a little more symbolic in a Director's life, from sex to ... bagels.
The bagels that I eat for breakfast are from the Strathcona Farmer's Market and are kept in the freezer compartment of our LG refrigerator. I usually get out of bed first in the morning to make coffee and every morning, on the kitchen counter, inside a plastic container, there is single bagel that has thawed overnight, which Hannah had taken out of the freezer the night before. With only the sound of the coffee maker perking, I would cut and toast the bagel, sometimes reflecting on the love that these bagels symbolized to me.
One morning I asked Hannah what it meant that every night before going to bed she would take a bagel out of the freezer for me.
"Just part of running a household!" she said with all the cheerful matter-of-factness of a lady truck-driver.