Discovering Familiarity

Our parents have always thought of us as very different people: Ellen was gregarious from a young age and I was always buried in a book. But, as we got older, it became pretty clear that our mannerisms had merged into some sort of dispositional venn diagram, a series of overlapping interests and idiosyncrasies that become more obvious every day. When we call home, our parents usually chat for several minutes before exclaiming, “Oh, it’s you – I thought I was talking to your sister!” and, when we raid each other’s closets, it turns out that three-quarters of the contents are exactly the same. Although we went to college together (living on opposite sides of the quad), we only took one class together – and wouldn’t you know it was an Aesthetics course in the Philosophy Department?

No doubt we still feel called to different things. Ellen spent twenty years in the web agency world focused on client management, while I went onto grad school to spend more time with books and then twenty years writing and teaching others to write. Ellen is a dog person (his name is Leo) and I’m a devoted cat owner (Mill plays second fiddle only to our real daughter, Lil). She gravitates toward French country while I am drawn toward Asian elements. But we both love William Morris, Turkish rugs, and random appearances from a cheery pink splash of anything.

We’ve learned – as people do – that differences are where all the fun is. Certainly we love it  when we’re reminded of how similar we are or, as friends will tell us, how much we sound like each other when we talk, gesticulating wildly and rolling our eyes. But the best days are when one of us introduces the other to something we didn’t know existed: a book, a poem, the softest sweater, spicy peanuts, a seven-episode series, a better way of looking at life.  The proof is evident: we both married people wildly unlike ourselves and it’s made all the difference in terms of evolving beyond the young girls we once were. Part of growing up is being brave enough to look for people who will broaden your perspectives, support your dreams, and encourage you to build new ones. And sometimes you realize you’ve known those very people your whole life.