For those who don't know, my husband is from England. There are a million reasons why I love him, and the fact that he is English, but one of the big ones is the new, fresh perspective he has introduced into my life.
I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and have been steeped in the local culture for most of my life. People here love micro-brews and enjoy arguing over whether Oregon State or University of Oregon has a better football team. They like Indie music, appreciate rainy weather, wear fleece to the office and take coffee seriously. I grew up around men who LOVE football, women who love Nordstrom and kids who adore peanut butter.
[Enter my husband into my life.]
Suddenly I found myself with a man who thinks micro-brews are disgusting, could not care less about football and is quite confused about Americans and their love of peanut butter. Collegiate sports, and how popular they are, is still a funny concept, and which of two schools win in any competition means nothing to him. When he goes out, he likes to be dressed up and would never be caught dead wearing khakis or fleece. He loves English rock bands, doesn’t drink coffee and swears that you can’t find “proper bacon” anywhere in this town. His school trips growing up were to places like Paris and skiing in the Alps and he struggles with the lack of beautiful architecture here on the West Coast (which I have to say, is true – can we please rid of the ‘strip-mall’ concept before they completely take over??).
On the flip side, there are certain American things that amuse him, which I would never even consider. Yellow school buses (“It’s just like the movies!!”), dishwasher disposals and automatic garage door openers were all exciting discoveries for him. Portland’s brunch culture is one of his favorite things and he gets really happy when he sees huge pick-up trucks and old, classic American muscle cars. It amazes him how strangers will just talk to you for no reason and loves how we take Halloween so seriously. He thinks we have great steak, has just started to discover regional accents (many Brits think we all sound the same, as we tend to think about them) and finds it hilarious when Americans say things like, “God dang it” and “Awesome!”
It’s who he is, and I love it. I’ve discovered that having someone to challenge the way you think, the way you see the world and what you are used to is really satisfying and opens up your world in ways you never imagined. I look back now and past relationships feel so boring compared to the one I am in now. I’m constantly learning new things about his culture, and he with mine. Things I think are totally normal are weird and funny to him, which makes me stop for a moment and realize that MY normal is not everyone’s normal.
This is a life lesson that I will be forever grateful having learned. We all have a different ‘normal’, and that is a good thing. In fact, it is essential. Can you imagine if we all liked the same things? Boring schmoring.
So, to my husband - I say thank you. Thank you for opening up my world, introducing me to your incredible culture and for accepting mine. Thank you for your hilarious commentary that makes me examine certain American customs with fresher eyes and a sense of humor. And mostly, thank you for being you. I hold dear the “English” things about you, and you always have my permission to be exactly as you are.