As you may know, Willem was my college sweetheart. We met through his then-girlfriend, a complicated and intense individual who was my host on my interview-and-overnight-visit during my junior year of high school. Willem and I were friends for a few years, passing notes in Chemistry class and watching each other negotiate some weird and wacky relationships. Then we got together, and that was weird and wacky – and complicated and intense all over again – for a long time. We broke up, got back together, broke up again, reunited, split more officially, considered a restraining order, and finally, over the course of one very long – why, yes, in fact, you’re right, it was complicated and intense, however did you guess? – conversation, got back together and stayed that way.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing from that moment, which has been mentioned here before and isn’t really the point, except in that, whenever I hear of someone whose partner was unfaithful, I cannot in good conscience rush to the “Dump his Cheating Ass” bandwagon, because sometimes it can work out anyway. A fact that makes me feel guilty, actually, at times, both because I know how insanely lucky we were to get past that (well, yeah, and the hard work helped, too) and because I know of at least one relationship in which there was infidelity and they clung to hope for a while because they knew we got through it. It is possible, but it’s difficult and painful and riddled with self-doubt and… what was I writing about?
Oh, right, how Willem and I got together. I realized, recently, that it’s not only wild that we managed to stay together despite nasty, sludgy, unpleasant water under the bridge, but it’s also kind of astounding that we ever ended up together in the first place.
Because I can’t speak for him, but for me? He is sooooo not my type. He’s sports-obsessed and doesn’t like the beach. He reads books about math and skims through atlases for fun, and could not be less interested in most of my books, TV shows or hobbies. He speaks of beer and sausage with reverence and considers himself deprived if he can’t just “check the score” regularly; I could comfortably live in a world with no alcohol, meat or television. He’s a frat boy; I depledged a sorority after five weeks of pledging because I found the process to be too intrusive and ego-destructive. If all of the chocolate were to vanish off the face of the planet, he wouldn’t flinch.
It’s not an “opposites attract” kind of thing, either, because we are just similar enough to have the potential for serious annoyance. We’re both bossy, eldest children, smarter than your average bear and high-achieving. We both hate stupid movies and raw seafood. We both have a capacity for unbelievable political incorrectness, but only among friends and usually in response to certain media (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Schindler’s List, for example).
If we were to sign up on eHarmony or match.com, we would not ever, ever be matched up with each other. I don’t care how many dimensions their personality profile has. On paper, he’s just not my type.
Somehow, we found each other and kept rediscovering each other and stuck with it until it worked. And it makes me wonder, how many other relationships are so totally unpredictable? Are other people sitting out there with the same partner they envisioned when they were five, or are most of us with people we would never have guessed were right?