Remember when Paula Abdul half way sang, “I take-2 steps forward, I take-2 steps back. We come together cause opposites attract” And you know…the rest… Although in retrospect the fact that she was singing to a cartoon tiger may help to explain her “crazy” outbursts on American Idol. But as usual, I digress.
My parents are approaching 35 years of marriage and to an onlooker they are opposites. My mother grew up in the Deep South, under the heel of Jim Crow, immersed in a family that was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement. My father is a second generation American who grew up in one of the few Black families in his small Northeastern town. His family does not know the pain that was slavery in America nor relates to the “Black American experience”. And while I’m sure they both experienced that good ol’ 1950s/60s, racism, their approaches to handling these injustices were different. My mother was someone who always challenged the system, the status quo. My father was a studious and diligent student, a hard worker who challenged the system in his own way by being at the top of his medical class, thus proving that he was just as smart, just as good as “them.” Opposites.
They met in the middle, in Chicago. My mother, a true embodiment of the 60s’ revolutionary spirit had traded her marching shoes for a black beret and took my father to a Black Panther Party Meeting to show him her world. My father, who probably quickly noticed and criticized the organization’s structural flaws, was not moved by their passion. While he understood what they were fighting for, he didn’t like their fighting methods. He never went to another meeting. But he never belittled my mother for what she believed in. She continued the struggle and he continued to study. Opposites.
As modern day women making our way in the dating world, sometimes we get caught up in what kind of man we want. We have this image in our heads of what kind of man we are supposed to be with and we just cannot deviate from that… A lot of us want someone who is very similar to us. If you’re a homebody, you want a homebody. If you are a social butterfly, you want someone who likes to go out and have a good time. If you're all about climbing the corporate ladder, you want someone of the same mindset. If you are a modern day revolutionary, you want someone to get arrested with. But then who will bail you out?
Being with someone who is seemingly your complete opposite seems unfathomable. How will the two of you get along? What will you agree on? How will you make things work? Now, to be fair I’m not talking about dating someone who you have nothing in common with... like Chris Rock said, he can’t be a crackhead and you go to church every Sunday. But I am talking about expanding our horizons. I’m talking about erasing that image we have of ‘the guy for me’ and thinking broader…what if you met someone so different from you that they took you to new places (Get y’alls mind out the gutter, I am literally talking about traveling to new places that you may have never gone to on your own), taught you new things, made you love jazz, had you try different foods, showed you the value of working in the community, introduced you to new people when you would normally be in the house, made you see the world in a whole new light? How would that enhance you as a person?
What I l have learned from observing my parents (and living at home in your adult years can give you that extra perspective- you know I have to find the silver lining) is that while they may seem so different, underneath everything, they have their commonalities. They share the same value systems and beliefs and have been able to build a strong foundation from that, a necessity to overcoming being “opposites”. They are friends first who understand the importance of working together as a couple, they have always been and still are enthralled with each other’s minds and they are continually supportive of each other.
My mother has often said that they are “one brain…” And they really are. They will see the same situation, have the same sentiments about the wrongness of said situation but they will respond differently. My mother will want to rage against the machine whilst my father will want to come from a more logical, tactical approach and perhaps work within the system to fix things. But at the end of the day they both agree that something must be done. In watching them I have learned the importance of being in sync with someone where it counts: values, ideals, parenting styles, money management, conflict resolution and love.
Even now, my mother still possesses that revolutionary spirit, she was right there wearing all black to support the Jena 6, calling me at work talking about “Power to the People…” If my father wore black that day, it was probably by happenstance. Opposites. My mother will go to a gathering/function close to the start time, will stay an hour (out of politeness) and be ready to go. My father will always be running late (so you know my momma has learned the necessity of factoring that into the equation when they are going somewhere-and now in their old age she will just go without him and he will meet her there), he will get to that function late and he will be ready to shut a party down. Opposites. They can go to a party together and my mother may speak to a few people while my father works the room. But they always know when to find each other’s eyes and give that ‘I’m ready to go’ signal that every married couple has. To this day, I still don’t know the signal. I don’t even see them giving it. That’s how smooth they are with it. But I know that when it’s given, my parents politely excuse themselves from their respective conversations, meet up and leave together. Opposites. But always on the same page.
That’s my time y’all! Happy Rum Punch Friday!
SO LONG, FAREWELL...
The View From Here will conclude on Friday, October 1, our third year anniversary. We would like to spend this month thanking all of our readers, followers, haters, visitors, family, friends, and fans for your continued support, encouragement, and comments over these past few years. Thanks y'all!
-The Five Spot