Smart. Funny. Sarcastic. Kind. Generous. Moody. Strong. Needy. Bitchy. Loving. Argumentative. Independent. Short-tempered. Capable. Lazy. Always right. I could go on, but you get the point. Who am I describing? Me, of course, or at least a combination of who I believe I am and what I've been told I am — not always consistent, clearly. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I'm also describing Michael (who I will continue to ambiguously refer to as my "roommate" because I like to keep things interesting). I always subscribed to the notion that opposites attract, but that hasn't worked out so well for me in the past. But put two people together in the same house who share so many strengths AND weaknesses, and stand back. When we're on the same page? Bliss. When we're not? Let's just say we both fight to win, like pit bulls, and it can get ugly.
My mom recently sent me an email to the effect that God doesn't send you the people you want in your life; he sends you the people you need. I'm not sure God had much to do with plunking Michael and me in each other's lives, but the last few months have been illuminating. The things about him that drive me the most crazy are things that I easily see in myself, but wish weren't there. So our arguments usually end up going something like this:
"God, I hate it when you do that."
"You do the same thing ALL THE TIME!"
"I don't do anything ALL THE TIME. Why do you always generalize? And we were talking about you, not me."
"Of course we were. Again."
"Oh, so I'm the one who's always complaining? Please."
"I didn't say that."
"But that's what you meant."
"Now you can read my mind?"
And so on. It's not much fun (or very original, I know) when it's happening, but afterwards I'm struck by the humor in it, and the fact that it presents a very real opportunity for personal growth. Already, I feel myself tempering those nasty tendencies I have, because now I know how they make people feel. My tone is a bit softer; I'm less defensive; I stop and ask myself if something is worth getting angry about. I don't know that Michael will notice, but I hope Grace does, because she's such a sponge right now and HOLY CRAP I don't want her growing up like me! We're all working on using our friendly voices even when we're upset, which sounds totally goofy but is more difficult than I expected. Name calling is verboten. Saying "I love you" is mandatory. Going to bed angry? We're still working on that one.