Monday, May 08, 2006

A Ticket Out

This evening I spent about three hours studying at a neighborhood coffee shop. I haven't studied in a long while so when I started a couple weeks ago I knew eventually I'd have to get out of the house to do it. There are just too many distractions at home.

It was nice and quiet at the coffee shop. The music was at just the right volume to not interfere (I was one of those kids that had to do homework with the radio or T.V. in the background) and the people working brought me water twice when they noticed my tea was gone. It was really a perfect environment to maybe, just maybe, start to remember math I learned ten years ago.

One of the employees walked by me just as I was engrossed in a word problem. Yes, the dreaded word problem: "Jim can buy five apples and two oranges or three oranges, one apple and four bananas for the same price. How much are the apples?" Huh? So as I tried to remember why I cared about the price of apples, this employee approached me. She looked about my age but seemed to have twice the energy when she spoke.

"Sorry to bother you... I just wondered what you were studying."

I lifted up my book for her to see the title.

"Oh, what's that for?"

"Grad school, entrance exam."

"Oh, wow. That's some hard crap, isn't it?"

"Yeah. I'm not exactly loving it."

"That's why I'm so glad I'm getting married."

"Wha? Why?"

"Then I won't have to deal with any of that."

"Oh, I see." And I looked back down at my book as fast as I could.

Did I hear her? Do married people not have to do math? Is this some secret that only the marrieds know? Dang. Never in a million years could math been my thing so if I'd have known that, I would have signed up to get married years ago. Like when I was eight.

But I'm pretty sure I know married people that do math so that can't be it.

Rather, I think this young girl has ideas about marriage quite different than my own. Of all the opportunities I believe marriage can present, not once have I thought about it as my ticket out. I've never thought of marriage as a solution to life's problems. A cushion at times, but never a free pass on challenge or adversity.

Already, she's put limits on herself and her marriage. It's as though she already believes that being married is a plan that cannot include some things. She believes it's going to save her from things she doesn't want to do or doesn't like. I know I'm not married, but I'm pretty sure life's likes and dislikes present themselves the same way they always did. I'm pretty sure, vows or not, that there will be hard days and troubles. It's not some carefree amusement park ride sheltered from outside forces. I'm a little sad for her.

I'm also reassured, though. I mean, married people can get out of a lot of things just by being married. Taxes, certain living expenses, and blind dates, just to name a few. But, if they want to take a grad school entrance exam, even they cannot get out of math.


Runner Girl FL said...

I'm with you. I think marriage (note this is a non married person's vision) should be sharing in each others achievements not keeping each other from having to try to better themselves anymore. To each their own, I guess. I have too many goals left to not to have someone in my life that is supportive.

Bre said...

Man! If I can get out of ever doing math ever again by getting married, that just gives me more incentive....

Ok, ok, back to the point - I've known far too many brilliant people limit themselves inside of a marriage and I don't quite understand why. A marriage, as you said, should be a partnership that works to bring out the best in each other (I learned that part from 7th Heaven tonight)... and how can you be bringing out the best in someone if you are stifling them?

Denise said...

As a married woman I can honestly say I still have to do math! 1 + 1 does equal 2! Also I can still do whatever I want (apart from sleeping with other people and killing small animals)my partner is there to support me 100%. The good thing about marriage is if some math or an assignment does come your way your partner has to pitch in and's that or living with the consequences...mwa ha ha ha!

Sister Buckle said...

I bet that girl talks everyone's ear off with her "I'm getting married" crap. She's just working at the coffee shop so she can annoy people until that straightjacket they apparently give you at the altar will prevent her from picking cups up.

Sizzle said...

ugh, word problems. i think i broke out in sympathy hives at the thought of jim and his apples.

that poor girl, or rather, should i say that poor fella she is marrying. i mean, i hope they are happy but for me, that doesn't sound a bit like the happiness i am seeking.

but seriously? if marriage got me out of doing math, i would have signed up at 8 too. ;)

justacoolcat said...

For starters I am glad The Wifey has her Masters degree and for the record I encourage her to start her PHD as soon as she wants, but now after reading this post.

I am going to suggest she get her PHD in Math, which will probably also require another masters.

I am sure she will be thrilled.

P.S. - I love word problems.

deepThoughts said...

Chipping in with another married woman's perspective - you can't run away from math. And with a hubby like mine, you get to hear phrases like this - "You must know this" "Surely, you must have done this in your Random Processes class"!

I am glad I am among the minority who like math :)

Anonymous said...

married girl perspective:
a good marriage gives you the safety net to push yourself toward your goals and dreams
a bad marriage slowly leaves you powerless
any routine where you are not pushing your boundries, whether pleasant or not, will leave you weaker over time

justrun said...

RGF- I agree. There's just too much out there to make it the end all, be all.

Bre- Maybe you really can learn from 7th heaven afterall?
Well, maybe not.

Denise- Yes, the teamwork is something I really do look forward to.

SB- Straightjacket. haha! I know some married people who'd do much better in a straightjacket then they do in their marriage. Sad.

Sizz- Jim and his apples... hehe. :-) And yeah, even if things can't be ideal, they don't have to be miserable either.

CoolCat- Your wife is a smarty. I know I don't know her but I bet she's one of those people that you want to be when you grow up. Just seems that way.

DT- You can have all the math you'd like. I'll gladly share mine. :)

Anon.- I tend to agree.

GirlGoyle said...

I love math and I was good at it. Now as I get older it seems that I can't do the simple stuff without my calculator. Why is that? As for word problems...they seem to have the same effect on me as does the word marriage. My head goes blank. I start to quiver, cold sweats and I'm franctically looking for the nearest fire escape.