Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Expectations vs. Reality
My favorite scene in (500) Days Of Summer is the "Expectations vs. Reality" scene. It's presented in split screen, showing a party as it has been spun beforehand in Tom's imagination, and how it actually unfolds. I know that we're talking about a deeply flawed movie that perpetuates the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, but there are elements of that movie that made me say "Yes, this is me. This has happened," and this scene was one of them. I'm often guilty of playing out events I'm looking forward to in my head before they happen, spinning them into brightly colored fantasies. It seems to be one of those universal human traits that doesn't get talked about often.
As I've gotten older, I've learned to temper that part of my imagination a bit, but I still do it quite often. It's not so much a problem when I realize what I'm doing and let myself still have fun no matter how differently things turn out. But sometimes I let the expectations spin out of control and dampen a perfectly nice reality.
My husband is not sentimental. He's incredibly practical and has a dry sense of humor. He shows us that he loves us more by the things he does than the things he says. This creates a beautiful balance to my own more emotional nature. I thought for years that I needed another wild and creative person as a partner, but that never worked out for me.
We do well when we remember that we are different, and don't expect the other to react as we would. We run into trouble when he expects stoicism from me, or I expect romanticism from him.
I planned a picnic lunch for us on Easter. Vegetarian for Maya and me, vegan for Trevor. The day started out so beautifully; 60 degrees and sunny. I packed everything in a cooler and grabbed a quilt. I imagined us relaxing in the park under the sun, on the double wedding ring quilt that my Granny made for me, just enjoying some coveted family time.
We decided on Myrick Park, which was busy but not packed that afternoon. As we were looking for parking, he told me that he really didn't want to sit on the ground. I was upset, because I had let my imagination create a perfect scene in my head, and that detail had attained an importance all out of proportion to any other detail. But his practical reasons won over my whimsical and romantic ones, and we found a table. We ate in silence for awhile. It wasn't a pouting silence. It was just one of those silences that happens when no one knows how to get back on track or whether it's too soon to get back on track. I was also embarrassed that I'd let something so trivial upset me so much. It didn't help that it seemed as though the moment we sat down, the weather turned overcast, with a chilly wind. The food was still delicious, we were all still together, and I sat there feeling silly for forgetting who this person is that I married, and getting upset for expecting him to act in a way counter to who he is. And he was right. The ground was probably still wet, there weren't any areas flat enough, and we'd probably have been overrun with bugs. Those are the things you forget about when you see photos of happily picnicking families. It would not have been the magical, whimsical time I'd had in mind anyway.
What got us back on track, and on each other's side, was when he cracked a joke about some SCA-ers who were having fighting practice in the park. Now, I may have gone to an SCA event or two in my youth, so I have no problem with the Society. However, I will crack a joke or two with my family if it means getting us all on the same side again. It was us against the guys hitting each other with PVC swords. The family that snarks together stays together.
But of course, the damned sun would come out again the very minute we got home.