When I first started dating my future husband, a man well-known for his graceful turns down a snowy slope, people automatically assumed I would learn to tele. When I said I wasn’t, I was met with looks of disbelief. AT then? Snowboarding? Nope and nope. I heard a rumor that some of his ski buddies advised him not to marry me, perhaps fearing that if I wasn’t as enamored of downhill, I would “take him away” from them (They love me now).
The truth is, I had to make a bargain with my knees a long time ago. Recovering from surgery, I faced a difficult decision: think short-term and do things that continue to erode them or be able to hike at eighty? I would never be a downhill skier. That was not going to change, even though I fell in love with someone who lived and breathed snow.
I was reminded of this when I recently read a memoir by a woman whose life completely changed once she met a cowboy. She gave up her wardrobe, big city life, and just about everything she was to move to a remote ranch and live an entirely different life. I won’t name the book, since it is guaranteed to make you feel bad about your relationship because her cowboy is described as impossibly perfect, but it got me thinking about the (outdoor) things that we choose to do in the name of love.
I’ve seen plenty of partners struggling along in the wake of their more enthusiastic mate. Some of these followers are pissed off and terrified. But they go along anyway. I have to wonder why. Similarily, I’ve seen friends drop their former activities and embrace their new love’s interests to the exclusion of anything else. An example is someone who never hunted before now arranging their life around this, or someone who never looked at a horse starting to enter barrel races.
It’s not all bad, absorbing new outdoor interests. There’s a lot to be said for expanding your life. In previous relationships, I learned to rock climb, sail, and fly fish because those men liked to do those things. But even though they were some pretty great guys, I didn’t change my life for them. They’re out there somewhere fly fishing, rock climbing and sailing without me. In the end, all the outdoor things I do now are things I decided to learn on my own.
I don’t think any relationship is worth being terrified, or doing something you really, really don’t like to do. It’s like your mom used to say about a scary vegetable: Just try it. You might like it. It might become your new passion. It might not. For my husband, I will climb down scree slopes that I really, really don’t want to descend. I will bushwhack through tangled forest because there might be something cool at the other end. I will even (cross country) ski down Hills of Death on occasion. In return, he will snowshoe and backpack with me on occasion, even though those aren’t his true passions.
But he won’t trail run. He will do anything for love, but not that. That’s fine with me. I know the feeling.