One evening last week, as I was puttering around the kitchen in my apron preparing dinner and setting the table, my husband commented that he’s seen me in an apron more during the last two years than in the previous thirty-two years put together. I laughed at that, but his observation is probably not too far off. Up until recently, cooking was something I did plainly (as in, What can I throw together tonight?) and out of necessity since there always seemed to be little mouths to feed. When we entertained or had a large family dinner, my husband always did the cooking. Now, we work together in the kitchen for those bigger occasions and I’m actually planning and enjoying the preparation process for our regular dinners.
After the comment about the apron, he went on to say, “Cooking, college football…you’re just not the girl I married.” True, along with a change in my attitude toward cooking, my thoughts on college football have also taken a 180-degree turn. I went to exactly one football game while we were in college. I know this because there’s evidence of it in a picture of me in the stands, wearing sunglasses and an awesome brown suede jacket, looking totally bored. If you’d taken a picture of me at yesterday’s Oregon Ducks’ game, you’d see me wearing a bright yellow shirt and hat (no sunglasses, though I’d wished I’d brought them from the car), standing up cheering and clapping – anything but bored.
So, am I not the girl my husband married and, if not, is that a bad thing? We married when we were only nineteen; we weren’t yet adults and we had a lot of growing up to do. We have both changed in dramatic ways, but fortunately the basis we started with has allowed us to grow up together, not apart. I picture in my mind those trees where the trunks are entwined, each growing on its own, but still growing side-by-side. While I’ve grown I’ve not only learned to enjoy cooking and college football, I’ve successfully pursued a career and followed that up with a second volunteer “career”, I’ve raised a houseful of kids, I’ve cared for my mother and his through their last days and sat with them as they left this world, I’ve learned what I like and don’t like in clothes, furnishings, music and movies and I’ve realized that all of this growth was created and made possible by the girl I was. The girl who didn’t necessarily know where she wanted to go, but knew she was smart enough to get there once she figured it out. The girl who wasn’t afraid to give a graduation speech that made her senior advisor cringe. The girl who already knew that her heart was terribly tender, yet stubbornly strong. In those basic “this is who I am” ways, yes, I’m still the girl he married, but I like to think that, in addition, I’m now really so much more!