When I was younger, I had always related to people of different cultures. My closest friends (except for my hanai sister) were born in different countries ranging from Syria to Japan to Iceland. As a child, I learned Japanese and Spanish. When I went to high school, I took (but don’t remember much) French, Chinese, and Sign Language. In college, I continued to take Japanese and Spanish and added in Russian.
When I met my husband, we immediately bonded over our love of learning. We had connected over eHarmony and he had been impressed with the fact that I had been studying many of the languages he had studied (Japanese, Spanish, Chinese). He was also impressed that I had taken Russian. We talked a lot about this in the early days. On February 14, he told me he was reading the book,”Kafka on the Shore”. Because I love to read, I decided to read it also. I finished it in a day. I immediately texted him and told him that I had finished the book. He was really impressed because he hadn’t finished it yet. Intrigued by a man who loved international novels and math (we chatted a lot about math problems), I called him the very next day and told him I’d be coming up to Seattle for a visit and would love to meet him.
We set a date and I drove up with my family. When we met, I was really nervous and I chattered away about the book, transgender issues (I was studying this in law school and it related to the book), and my love of languages. He listened intently and was happy to listen to me talk. Then, we switched and I listened to him talk about where he grew up and how he had immigrated to America. The immigrant experience had always been really interesting to me, and I listened intently. He was so articulate and interesting that I decided then and there he was the “one”.
We laughed a lot during that first date and learned a lot about each other. I found out he loved poetry. So, every Friday after our date I sent him a new poem that I wrote. Although I don’t write him poems much anymore, and he doesn’t have time to read as much, I continue to love to listen and learn from him. We are very different in the way we do things and, sometimes, this causes a problem for us. But, on the days where we are taking the time to listen to each other, I see what it was that made me fall in love with him on the first day. There is so much I can learn from him and so much that he can learn from me.
I still love listening to him talk about how he grew up in Russia and how things were so much different there. I enjoy listening to him tell me about his first experiences in American and the struggles he and his family overcame.
Although the main language of our house is English, and my Japanese and Spanish have become a little (okay, very) rusty, I love eavesdropping on his phone calls and challenging myself to translate what he’s saying. When he’s done, I ask him if my translation was about right. Usually, it’s not bad.
Sometimes, when you have a child, it’s easy to take your spouse or significant other for granted. I try not to and, when we fight, I look to the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place — that he is strong willed, intelligent, and from a different culture than me. I remind myself that I love him because I learn from him every day. Just as I hope he learns from me.
On February 16, we celebrated our 6 year anniversary.