It must be true that opposites attract, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be married.
My husband, Oscar, was born loving mathematics. I was born to struggle with it. Geometry and algebra thrilled him. They threatened me. He took every science course he could find. I wrote poetry in senior science class. But somehow – ignoring academia – we fell in love and got married.
And now our marriage of 51 years has me convinced that the opposites have mostly disappeared in the face of compromise, cooperation and conjugal dedication. We still differ mathematically, but in most other areas we comfortably agree.
At least I thought so, until somehow we each found ourselves “watch-less” for a day.
On my day, I had uncharacteristically forgotten to put my watch on as I headed out for an entire day full of errands, shopping, entertainment and eating out. To my complete amazement, the time felt wonderfully free. I was on vacation. I didn’t have to be anywhere in particular at any specific moment. I could linger when I wanted and look at whatever attracted my attention. I didn’t know what time it was and it didn’t matter.
The GPS in the car blocked the clock completely, so when I felt hungry, I stopped to eat – nevermind the time. The world seemed marvelously inviting. No time constraints. I didn’t even listen to the radio in the car because I didn’t want to know what time it was. The feeling lasted until I got home and clocked in.
Yesterday, Oscar had his chance. His beloved watch, which is accurate to the second, ran out of juice. It needed new batteries. And the engineer that he still is wanted to get them and have them installed by a specific jeweler whose store was closed on Sunday. So he spent the entire day watch-less, mourning his temporary loss.
The clocks in the house and car were not what he was used to depending upon. He is so attached to his watch that when it ceased to work, he left it on his night table and spent the day displaying a white ring of skin around his sun-tanned wrist where the watch usually resides.
During the course of the day, I can’t tell you how many times he glanced automatically at his wrist only to negatively shake his head in frustration. Contrary to my experience, the freedom he depends on to control time evaporated when his watch died.
Don’t get me wrong. I depend upon my watch too, and I wear it every single day. But sometimes I feel that it controls me. Oscar, on the other hand, feels that he has control of his time, thanks to his stainless steel buddy.
For me, the lesson of this experience is that two people who have lived together daily for more than half a century can still discover things that they don’t know about one another. And for some strange reason, it feels good to recognize and accept this possibility. I’m convinced there’s more we can continue to discover.
Freelance writer Judy Kramer can be reached by email at [email protected] She is author of the book “Changing Places: A Journey with My Parents into Their Old Age.”