Los Opuestos Se Atraen/Opposites Attract
(The title of this post was formed via Google Translate. If it’s inaccurate, please read the rest of this post to find out why I don’t care.)
My mom has met Jessie a few times, and after both times I would pull her aside and like most women, ask, “So what do ya think??” And each time, my mom has said the same thing: “I just don’t know how much you two have in common.” Most of the time, I remember this and get defensive, reasoning away in my head that Jessie and I are great together. But sometimes, sometimes…..I wonder what we really do have in common.
You know how most couples have those few topics where they will just never come to an agreement? Well for Jessie and I, one of them is Spanish. Like most Americans, I took two years of Spanish in high school, managed to get an A all four semesters, but never learned a thing. And that was totally fine with me, because after the first week I realized that learning a language is hard and if you’re not passionate about it/you won’t use it/you don’t grow up speaking it, then you’re going to hate it, because it will feel like a waste of time. And it was a waste of time, because when I went to college I had to take three semesters of a foreign language anyway, and since I never learned any Spanish I decided to try a completely different language. So until I met Jessie, I never gave Spanish a second thought.
But Jessie…Jessie LOVES Spanish. I mean, it’s his obsession. No matter how well he can speak it, it never seems to be enough. He’s completely fluent, but he can’t stand the small things that set him apart from native speakers. Hell, Spanish is the reason he moved to Central America (that, and to get un-“stuck” from the college town where I live and he used to live). Jessie’s whole life seems to be Spanish—he speaks it all day, every day. But ever since I told him I’d visit him after he moved to Central America he’s been hell-bent that I learn it.
Here’s the problem: when Jessie gets all worked up about something, he wants everyone in his life to do the same. When we first started dating it was yoga. He begged me to do yoga with him all the time. And then biking. And trying the vegan food he cooked. And henna. One by one, he would pick up a new kick and try to get me to partake in it with him. And I tried for a while there—I did yoga sometimes, I got out my old bike and tried riding again, I did henna and tried not to make a face whenever I ate the vegan stuff put in front of me. But it wasn’t for me; the only thing I really seemed to enjoy for myself out of those activities was biking, and I only liked to do that by myself because then if I fell or ran into something no one would be there to see it. The point is, I tried, and I tried for Jessie. But I won’t try Spanish.
See, after a while I just got tired of working up interest and optimism in things I wasn’t so interested in. “Try new things,” I’d tell myself, “Keep an open mind.” But usually after trying it the first time, my mind’s door would slam shut. Where Jessie had endless energy, I felt exhausted, where he craved stimulation, I craved solitude and/or quiet. His extraversion and my introversion were batting heads, so I just decided to give up. “Be yourself,” I finally said instead, “do what makes you happy, and be honest.” So I started refusing the vegan food, and stopped feigning interest in yoga. Don’t get me wrong—I was always supportive and pleasant about it, and usually said something like, “No thanks, but feel free to go ahead. I’ll be right here.” But it always disappointed Jessie; I could tell he didn’t like getting no for an answer.
All this comes back to the Spanish. “You’re going to need to learn Spanish if you’re going to be here,” he keeps saying, and I keep replying, “I’m only going to be there for a week!” It’s so frustrating. Sometimes I think Jessie is trying so hard to be Latino that he can’t fathom anyone who is happy being American. “Bring jeans to wear,” he’ll tell me, “everyone wears jeans here.” “I’ll bring whatever I want to wear,” I say back, “I don’t care about fitting in. I’m white and I can only speak English; I’m already not going to fit in.” I can tell he looks down upon the fact that I’m unwilling to learn Spanish even though it is the native language in the area, but I’m not going to learn flawless Spanish in the course of a month. There is a significant amount of tourism in the area that we’ll be in, and most of those tourists are white and speak English, so many people in the area know how to speak it too. I’m not saying that local language shouldn’t be respected or acknowledged, but I would never ask someone who didn’t want to learn English to learn it if they wanted to visit New York City or L.A., or even if they wanted to live in the U.S. (although that would be pretty hard if they didn’t know someone who could translate).
I just get so frustrated with him because he can’t stand it when things don’t go his way, or he can’t control a situation. He keeps pushing and pushing until people give in, but the thing is I won’t give in—I’m just as stubborn as he is, and I hate it when people tell me what to do. And it would be one thing if it were just as simple as “I don’t want to learn Spanish,” but it’s not. I get insecure because I feel like Jessie is constantly trying to change me so I’m like him, and while I do like to try new things and do activities that my significant other likes, I want him to like me for who I am rather than who he is.
And I don’t care about Spanish, I really don’t. I think it’s nice that it makes Jessie happy, but that’s it. I mean, it’s important that I know a few phrases in Spanish for safety reasons before I travel, but I don’t want to know anything that’s not completely necessary. I don’t have a passion for Spanish, and I’m not embarrassed that I’m an American. (Although I wouldn’t exactly say I’m super proud to be one either–America has done some really stupid things, and running off to live in The Netherlands, U.K., Australia, or France wouldn’t bother me a bit. Even if I would have to potentially learn Dutch.)
Sometimes I get envious of the fact that Jessie is passionate about so many things, and other times I feel sad for him. I feel like the difference between me and him is that he distracts himself from what’s going on inside, and I dwell on it. Neither way is better or worse, but they both have their downsides. Jessie can never be anywhere too long because he gets restless/the distraction never lasts, and I can’t seem to find anything I’m passionate about because I get too wrapped up in my head.
I never share anything that means something to me because I’m afraid people will disregard it. Jessie shares everything with everyone because he’s eager for someone to agree or relate. Sometimes I think that it’s not that we necessarily have too much or too little in common, but it’s that we are two opposite sides of the same coin.
Posted on 02/19/2016, in People--The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, This Whole "Life" Thing and tagged frustration, people, relationships, self-examination, Spanish. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.