All these years I have focused on the life I lead in my two countries: USA and the UK. And during my obvservations, my mind looks to our homes, schools and raising kids, the culture around us in each place and then feeling placed or displaced during our moves. But the real divide and then, common ground, comes from Husband and myself; he is UK and I am USA in our core habits, rituals and upbringing and our marriage is what happens when common ground is discovered.
For example: I like to shower. Most hotels around the world will profess that Americans want a good shower in the bathroom and not a tub. We have no desire to soak in dirty water and it takes too long to fill. Husband likes to bathe. Drawing a bath is a ritual that all of my British friends and family do. He farts around the bathroom, literally speaking sometimes, waiting for the water. Even if he takes a five minute bath, he will wait 15 minutes for the tub to fill up.
I like to wash the dishes by running the water and cleaning them if we aren’t using the dishwasher. Like a shower, in fact. Husband likes to fill the sink with water and let everything soak…like a bath. We have huge domestic arguments over how to properly wash up and save water. We both feel the other way is ridiculous and inefficient. He gets water everywhere and uses my nice DRY towels meant for DRYING as sponges and soaks them through. Just the mere sight of my lovely dish towels sopping in wet makes me crazy. But then I stop and remember that there are men out there who don’t ever wash up and so what’s a little puddle and ruined French towel?
Then there is the school issue: I put my foot so firmly down about not sending our boys to boarding school that I wore my heels out; Husband went to boarding school and would still send them there if he didn’t fear I meant over my dead body. I hear about A levels and GCSE’s and don’t really understand the time frame and structure and Husband still has no idea what a 4.0 is.
Sunday lunch; it really does always involve gravy and is almost never at lunchtime. Whereas salad really is considered a meal at lunchtime in LA, one would never present a salad as an entree for a Sunday lunch – or really as a side dish either. And now the car…for our newly licensed son of 16. To buy or to lease and what kind of car? The common ground we share is that the car has to be symbolically unpretentious, safe and constitute a ‘box standard’ version of a starter car (for the privileged, of course – yes, I know the irony in this). But Husband quotes his father and tells son that he graduated university after being a ‘bin man’ all the summers leading up to it to earn the money to buy the piece of shit car himself! He could, and I quote, see the bottom of the motorway from the inside of the drivers flooring, and he was still thrilled to have it.
I, on the other hand, believe in leasing a new car, full of warranties and MPG. We seem to agree to disagree at the moment. No worries other than our eldest watches this ping pong match and wonders if anyone is actually going to win? Meaning…is he EVER going to get ANYTHING that he can drive????
And finally, the dogs. Scarlet born on the streets of London and rescued from the Battersea Dogs Home. Rusty born in the hills of Malibu and rescued from Star Paws. Scarlet is street savvy dog through and through; will show her canines if she feels threatened, is cunningly aware of whose ass to kiss and takes no prisoners when she wants something. But, she’s a bit lazy and not so sure of this hiking kick we seem to be on at the moment. Rusty, on the other hand, has golden hair, gallops up the mountain looking for more and more ways to exercise, plays around the house licking everyone and everything near him…he will lick your entire leg if you let him…thinks he’s tough and yet would never survive being outside alone past midnight.
The differences are indeed seeped in our culture; the common ground is the magic. Like purple; blue and red makes purple. I’ve always thought that was cool. It’s become a favourite color of mine and now I know why.