The way we operate / by Christina Rosalie

We went on a run tonight, along the lake, as we do most nights. A little over 4 miles in all, our route takes us past the busy city center, and then down along the waterfront bike path where old train cars sit abandoned on rusted tracks, painted with fantastic graffiti art. The path is mostly paved and mostly flat after we get to the water down a steep hill. We run side by side, pushing Bean in his Chariot stroller, through the evening air. Tonight we talked about building a house as we ran. We've started the process of dreaming. Of driving through the countryside near here, looking for renovated farmhouses or land where we can build a timber frame.

But somehow, recently, this process of trying to visualize our future home, has created a lot discord for us. Our ways of imagining our future are is very different. Perhaps stereotypically so--the whole men are from Mars, women from Venus bit.

DH is an idealist, perhaps with a twinge of OCD. When he finds something he loves, he becomes obsessed with it: bikes, coffee roasting, stereo equipment, and now timber frames, he pursues his obsessions relentlessly. Searching the internet, ordering brochures, becoming increasingly knowledgeable and simultaneously increasingly adamant. His optimism knows no bounds.

By comparison, I'm slow to warm to a new idea. I come from a childhood with little money, and parents who regretted much. My mother and I talk often now, and I still here the regret in her voice about choices she and my father made. "I never wanted any of the houses we lived in," she has said. She has also said, "Money is an odd, strange thing." And she has said, "I told you so" when things don't work out more times than I care to remember, though perhaps not quite in those words.

So when it comes to imagining something new, I like to think of the worst case scenarios first, and gradually eliminate them with hard evidence as the plan grows firm. It frustrates DH to no end that I navigate this way: with fear and worry first, optimism last. But I can't help it. Pessimism and angst seem to be written deeply into my genetic code---an unwanted inheritance from my mother, that I'd like to be rid of, but can't simply shake.

So tonight, running under chokecherries and quaking aspens, we argued about the costs of building versus buying a house already built, established on land already cleared, with fields already mowed. Somehow, it seems to be a fundamental error code between men and women: that when a woman states her fears, her worries, her deepest insecurities, she DOESN'T WANT THE MAN IN HER LIFE TO FIX THEM. She just wants TO BE HEARD. Or at least, that's how it works for me.

I don't want him to hear me say I'm afraid that the costs of building might spiral out of control, and then argue why I'm wrong.

I don't want to be convinced, right off the bat that my fears are irrational. I know they probably are. They are fears after all. That's the nature of fear. Instead, I want to be heard. Simply that. I want him to say, "Hmm, I hear you saying that your afraid that the costs are going to spiral out of control if we build. That's a reasonable fear, as far as fears go." And then say nothing else.

Because, oddly, in just hearing my fears. In letting me put them out in front of me---sharp and jagged the way they are---it makes it possible for me to gradually let go of them. Over time, I'll come around to almost anything, if I get enough facts, and if the facts are backed up.

I'm spontaneous mostly---especially in friendship and affection---but when it comes to big decisions that involve our family's future, I can't help but feel terrified first and excited second.

So tonight, running, after he'd interrupted me and made me feel stupid because of my fears, I completely kicked his ass on the run. Kept less than a 8 minute mile pace the whole way. And it felt good. Good to run fast. To feel my muscles warm to the pounding of my blood, to sprint. And it felt good to hear him panting hard beside me. Harder than me.

And at the end of our run, I loved him so much again.