I was supposed to end up with a passionate man

I asked Bear how his day was.

He thought about it for a second. He said, “Somewhat so so.”

Somewhat so so? Is that even a thing? Is that a state of being? The next step down is “Entirely so so.” The next step up is “Partially OK.”

I found this really embarrassing Word document from a long time ago, before I moved to NYC. In it, I’m describing the guy I’m definitely going to meet there. The guy I’m going to marry. The first thing I say about him is that he writes these absolutely lovely songs on guitar. His lyrics are heartfelt, subtle, and clever. They’re about things that matter. His finger picking is impressively accurate.

He is a passionate guy.

My mom always said I needed a passionate guy.


Once I had this dream about a herd of white horses running through a shallow river. I was waiting on the bank. Then a black stallion came tearing down the hill on the other side and splashed mightily up to me, and I jumped on his back. Someone should analyze that dream.

My mom did. She said it meant I needed a passionate man.

My grandma said it meant I should be careful. Very careful.

Bear does not appear to be passionate. When I meet him in the evening, after work, he is wearing a pale blue button down shirt and the same gray pants he always wears, and nice shoes I picked for him from DSW. He appears to be big, calm, and nice. The kind of guy you would never be afraid to talk to.

He almost never has anything exciting to report, because he doesn’t think that things are very exciting, in general. Things are usually “So so.” Or “OK.” Or, at their best, “Pretty good.”

“How was that meeting?” I ask. I know it was a big deal. I can feel it.

“Pretty good,” he says. He thinks about it. He downgrades it, “So  so.”

“Which one?”

“So so.”

Damn. So it was bad? Or was it good? I’m still not entirely sure.

I am either great or I am probably going to cry soon. Not that I’ll actually cry, but don’t push me. Nothing in my life has ever been so so. It’s all been amazing or pointless, full of potential or infuriating. I always think things will lead to other better things, even when they’re not that great themselves. There’s a corner up ahead, and the things will turn it soon, and on the other side is a wonderland of awesomeness. Or my mind builds, brick by brick, a big, definite wall in front of the corner. There’s a mean-looking guard in a yellowing polyester uniform out in front of it, loudly chewing old gum. He says, “You kidding me? This corner’s off-limits, girl. Get outta here.” He adds, as an afterthought, “And you look like shit.”

So I don’t understand Bear’s mind.

But I like it, because it’s comforting. It’s always even.

My mom and Bear had this big life talk last week, while we were snowed in together. She was asking about life goals, he was giving practical answers. His answers were all about hard work, responsibility, and patience. She said, finally, “What are you passionate about?”

“Kate,” he said, without thinking. “She’s my passion.”

I am the thing that he describes in dramatic terms. “How’s life?” a friend asked him at a lunch, a few months into our relationship. “Amazing!” said Bear. He might have even used that exclamation point. “Incredibly happy. I’m so happy.” The friend and I both laughed. The friend looked at me. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

I don’t know if Bear is a passionate man. I don’t think he is, really. The man knows how to love, that’s for sure. He never doesn’t love. But he’s never going to write me a song on guitar. And I’m still waiting for him to have a “Great!” day. It’s been two years now. He still hasn’t had one. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

“Are you sure it wasn’t great?” I ask him.

He thinks about it. “Yeah, pretty sure. It was OK, though.”

Yes! OK! We’re doing OK.

(so dorky.)

*  *  *

Unroast: Today I love the way I look, reclining, with a cat on my stomach.

P.S. Also, I had this crazy dream about being pregnant, and then it turned out I’d just taken some weird medication that made me look pregnant, and it went away. And I was disappointed and relieved. I keep having pregnancy dreams. It’s freaking me out a little.



Kate on November 4th 2011 in marriage, relationships

31 Responses to “I was supposed to end up with a passionate man”

  1. Amy responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    My husband is a lot like yours. Big, strong, even-tempered. Definitely not what I would consider “passionate”. I was a drama-queen when younger, and dated much more “passionate” men. I also got hurt by them. I’ve learned that a man like my husband makes a much better husband and I wouldn’t trade him for anything.

  2. Harriet responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    Such a fabulous (and adorable) post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    very interesting…and glad you recognize the comfort in his unrestless state of being…simply put, you balance each other out and that’s a good thing…if you married someone just like you i don’t think i could take the blog :) it would be TOO intense! and if you were like bear, there’d be no blog…you’d be like two frumpy librarian types sipping tea and reading books by the fire, occasionally looking up to ask simple questions like “did you scoop the litter box?” or “honey, did i remember to take my medication?” sweet post!

  4. San D responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    In my life, I am the “flapper” and my husband is “slow and steady”. He is full of passions but never was about his job. His job was something he took seriously and needed a cool head with which to make important decisions. But ask him about his bird photography, and oy, the man goes on and on and on and on and on…..He was a scientist, and I, an art teacher. My job required passion not only for the subject matter but for my students as well. I could never be “so so” or “ok” about how the day went. Now in retirement I am more even keeled. Bear works long hard hours, and in his career descretion is of utmost importance, as was in my husband’s career. There are some things left best unsaid.

  5. Leslie B responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Love this post. Hilarious & sublime. Love it. Love it. Love it. Excellent use of bodice-ripper cover art.

    Have I mentioned recently how glad I am that you & Bear found each other?

  6. Kate responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    I often resist the urge to include bodice-ripping cover art in things I write. But it worked here.

    Thank you! And I am also so incredibly, insanely, wildly, all-the-time glad of that.

  7. Marti responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    A beautiful post. Passionate in a man is overrated. Passionate in a man is drama, totally too much drama. Calm and steady and always loving is a wonderful kind of man. Hang on to that dude. (Beautiful picture of the two of you. Not dorky in the least. )

  8. Hillary responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    This post reminds me of my husband (and the one about hairy guys too- he won the hairy chest contest on our honeymoon cruise. There are rewards for this kind of thing). I don’t think I could pick anything he is passionate about except me and our family. He is the kind of man that makes not only an excellent husband, but a ridiculously wonderful father- I’m sure your Bear will be outrageously passionate about your kids when you have some- and let me just tell you how incredibly cute it is to see a giant hairy man completely wrapped around a squishy baby’s finger. It’s cute, and sexy in a weird way.

  9. Kate responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    HA!! I love this comment. Hairy chest contest? I need to sign Bear up for one of those.

    And, confession: I do fantasize about the image you’re describing, with the baby, sometimes. Perfect.

  10. Aurora responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    This makes me think of my boyfriend. I always thought my long-term relationships would be with people who were energetic, excited about everything, just bursting with passion. Turns out they’ve all been chill, subdued types. I’m very confused. o.O

  11. Jess responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    I agree; as you well know, I too am embroiled in the infuriating and comforting experience of loving a cool cucumber. He does get excited about some things, but his reactions to things are far less dramatic than mine. This leaves me wondering what he’s hiding. Turns out? Nothing. Not everyone telegraphs everything the way we do. And it seems like he gets silly with you in private as much as mine does with me.

    I was once talking with a mutual friend he and I have. They almost dated a while back and she, like me, is silly and dramatic. I remember saying to her that I felt bad sometimes, because I go on (and on) and he’s so quiet. Is it because I don’t let him get a word in edgewise? She smiled and said something like “You have to remember, K has a taste for chatty girls. He likes a girl who does most of the talking. I think they balance him out.” So when you’re feeling comforted by his even keel, just remember he probably feels the same about your excitement. :)

  12. Rebecca responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    kate, i am a passionate woman who feels, deeply, practically every breath. when i was much younger, i thought it would take an extremely passionate person to understand me. that is not true. i am married to the most amazing human being… one who is so perfect for me that, had i not already believed in God… well, you get the picture. my spouse is calm, collected, extremely intelligent and my rock. this is the one person who can hold on to the kite strings of my over-the-top passionate self and make sure i don’t fly too high and get burned… or just fly away.

    i have dreamed a dream possibly a million different times… or something like that… and it is that God took a soul and tore it apart. then He sent the two halves down to earth. when they find each other, they fit perfectly… they fit each other’s jagged places. i found the one who fits my jagged places. it rather sounds to me like you have, too. congratulations!!!

  13. caitlin responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    wow, so you basically just validated my life.

    i am incredibly intense in relationships (and everything in life) and, like you, am either amazing or about to cry (don’t push me). my boyfriend is the most subdued, relaxed, steady, responsible person imaginable. which is basically everything i never could be (or would want to be), and i have often found myself yelling at him for not being outwardly passionate enough.

    so i guess i should stop that now. because being with another me would probably make me want to stab out my eyes. sometimes it’s nice that i get to be the wild thing :)

  14. Lilli responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    This post so reminds me of my much older friend, and her even older husband. As i’m only 16 i’m not married yet, neither have i truly had a relationship of any true merit, but seeing how she and her husband interact is so inspirational. She’s passionate, and incredibly young (although she’s 44 i’m actually often the “older” one) and he’s the calmest man i know, yet they both adore eachother, and after being married for over twenty years, she has assured me she only loves him more, nd that she wishes i will meet a man like him when i’m older.
    The way you talk about Bear is the same way she talks about her husband, so i’m keeping my fingers crossed that you’ll still be making posts about him in twenty years time :) x

  15. Erin responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    “Sorta whatever” is my Mr.’s descriptor of choice. After 17 years, I know exactly what he means when he uses it, though it used to confound me.

    Passion in a man has its definite downsides. I’ll take “tempered and caring” any day.

  16. jss responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    I am a deeply passionate, thoughtful woman, and my boyfriend is not. I carefully consider every decision I make based on my philosophical and ethical principles to the point of obsession.

    My boyfriend is not like that. He is calm and handles difficult situations with far less angst than I do. But he does listen to me, really.

    I think, ultimately, we balance each other out. He has taught me that not every small decision in my life requires a mental crisis, and I have taught him to consider what he says and does more carefully than he might otherwise. He has become more sensitive; I have developed a somewhat thicker skin, which has served me well. I think we’re a perfect pair.

    The whole “opposites attract” thing really is true, at least to a point.

  17. Tempest responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    I think it’s a good thing to have differing personalities to balance out – not necessarily opposite…just balancing.

    My dad is one of those guys – when he describes food, it was “good”, “ok/alright” “meh”. Nothing is ever amazing – but we have taken it to be that “good” = amazing. But at the same time, the man is consistent, driven, and focused…so it works out.

    Think I’m going to look for an earth sign for my next partner. ;)

  18. Barbara responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Passion and passionate style are two different things. As your piece suggests, they don’t necessarily go together. Woe to the girl who gets the style without the substance.

  19. Beauzeaux responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    As was noted earlier, passion is often overrated. I’ve known truly passionate people but none of them would describe themselves as such. They don’t brood and they don’t sulk. They’re not flighty. They pursue their passion with intensity but they don’t use it as an excuse for bad behavior.
    You’re Bear’s passion!? Lord, what I wouldn’t give to have someone say that about me.
    I’ll refrain from my usual lecture about how lucky you are but…no I won’t. You’re young, pretty, talented, and living in NYC with a man you love who likewise has a passion for YOU. Shit, what else do you want?

    (Of course, if you got over everything, you wouldn’t have anything to write about and I’d miss you.)

  20. j responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    after our im conversation, this was totally what i needed to hear. (the person i was telling you about is pretty even-keeled, but no matter.)


  21. Kate responded on 04 Nov 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    I’m really glad!

  22. Amy responded on 05 Nov 2011 at 9:15 am #

    So it seems I’m not the only one who is coming to comment about how this is the story of my life!

    I’m a drama queen, and my boyfriend is the most emotionally stable person I’ve ever met in my life; it baffles me to be honest. It’s good for me. I used to dream about being with passionate people, but I am friends with a lot of them and their inconsistency and unreliability (so tied up are they in their passions) make me mad. I’m sure I do the same for them. I think I’ve learnt that someone being passionate about me, and not a whole lot else, enables me to be the passionate person that I am. Plus, he does the washing up, which is handy when cooking if your passion!

    Also super-awwwwwws for the picture of you two!

  23. zoe (and the beatles) responded on 05 Nov 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    i used to have a lot of pregnancy dreams, too. i looked them up (on the internet so don’t quote me on this) but it signals new beginnings, not necessarily child rearing.

  24. Deanna responded on 06 Nov 2011 at 10:10 am #

    Kate….it’s balance. Two highly emotive people won’t last. Two very passive people would probably die of boredom. I realize that one reason I’ve been married as long as I have is thar we complement each other. I also think men like Bear and my husband are wildly attracted to women like us despite our beauty issues. It’s the passion, intensity, introspective nature..etc…they find appealing. We love their calm. Balance. It’s more important than one may think.

  25. Sable@SquatLikeALady responded on 06 Nov 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Oh my Lord I thought I was the only person who wrote something like that! AHH. I have no idea where mine is but I remember a few things it said…. I remember my husband was going to be Italian (check) with brown eyes (check) and funny (check) but I think there was something in there about a big wedding and we didn’t even HAVE a wedding. Not even a little four-person one. But now that I’m thinking about it I’m a little surprised by how much of what I remember (from 5-6 years ago) matches up with my husband. HMmm.

  26. My Marriage is a Gumbo. Kim Kardashian Had a Crème Brûlée. « Jen Clark responded on 08 Nov 2011 at 10:01 am #

    [...] I read this post by the fabulous Kate, I literally laughed out [...]

  27. JJgal responded on 08 Nov 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    I got this from DreamMoods: “Pregnant

    To dream that you are pregnant symbolizes an aspect of yourself or some aspect of your personal life that is growing and developing. You may not be ready to talk about it or act on it. Being pregnant in your dream may also represent the birth of a new idea, direction, project or goal. Alternatively, if you are trying to get pregnant, then the dream may be a wish fulfillment. If you are not trying to get pregnant, but dream that you are, then it symbolizes fear of new responsibilities.”
    I’ve also heard that dreaming you’re pregnant means that you’re addressing feelings about a big change happening in your life or within yourself.

  28. flackette responded on 14 Nov 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    Hi – first-time commenter who found my way over here from The Hairpin.

    I know what you’re talking about. I’m engaged to a wonderful, down to earth man. Sometimes I think “Hmmm, this isn’t the mad passion that I wanted when I was 19.”

    But the truth is that I dated all the madly passionate dudes, and I got hurt by them, very badly.

    What I have now is, for me, better. We are passionate about each other, but I know we’re also both always going to prioritize paying the rent on time. I can be very emotional and prone to ups and downs. He is even keeled. It’s what I need. I find it immensely more comforting and enjoyable to hang out with him chopping veggies and making weeknight dinner together, than I ever did when I felt like I was play-acting in someone else’s romance novel fantasy.

    Balance is good.

  29. natalie responded on 07 Mar 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    this comment is late in coming but i can finally relate to this post now!

    ive been with my boyfriend for 7 months…no, we arent engaged yet but we began talking about marriage after one month and i KNEW before we even went on our first date that he was my soulmate. our relationship is blissfully easy-no drama, we laugh alot and he is my best friend. i couldnt be happier with him.

    THAT being said…he is not passionate and hes not much of a talker. which surprises me because i could have SWORN my dream man would be super creative and woo me with poems and grand gestures…but it turns out that my man won me over with his perpetual kindness, stability, and affectionate nature. which is actually really great! because im moody and emotional enough for the both of us. and, related to another post of yours…having an ‘easy’ relationship highlights my own struggles because i dont have my dramatic relationships to focus my attention on.

    funny how a lot of what we grew up (dare i say conditioned to believe…?) turns out to not be the recipe for romantic success…well, at least not for me.

    on another note…CONGRATS ON YOUR PREGNANCY! i hope your morning sickness eventually subsides…youll be in my prayers.


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