I read an article awhile ago about how to fall in love with anyone. I’ve been married 21 years, much of that time in love with my spouse, so I didn’t consider that particular article to be directly relevant, but still. How would I answer? How would he? Would I answer the questions differently if I were talking to someone who did not have a shared history and his own baked-in assumptions about how each of us would respond?
So what the hell? I’ll give it a shot.
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? I assume someone living, so I’ll go with Ruth Reichl. She is a writer and a cook (or a chef?), a former hippie and a business woman. What a fun person to share a meal with — good stories, good food, easy to be around.
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way? Yes, in certain circles, not the kind of famous that would be generally recognized on the street, but famous among writers, or at least among discriminating readers.
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? Yes. I am often uncomfortable on the phone, so if I am talking about something important or making sure I address something in particular, I will play it out in my head. I don’t normally rehearse the actual words, but rather the key points.
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? One year I kept a jar of memories of perfect days. The common themes included being outdoors, usually with close friends or immediate family. Walking in the woods, a nice breeze, relaxed and active, then eating together, laughing.
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? A few days ago, in the kitchen while cooking or cleaning, alone, singing Guy Clark songs. I haven’t really sung to anyone else since my children were very young and I would sing to them at bedtime. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Michael, Row the Boat Ashore. If I Had a Hammer.
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? Mind. By that I mean the ability to process new info and maintain short- and long-term memory. I’d like to remain continent and mobile, but I’d wear a diaper and use a wheelchair if it meant my mind stayed sharp.
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? Yes. I will get cancer or something similar, but it will be too advanced by the time it’s discovered to do much about it.
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common. Need to be right. Like to know more about the things that are most interesting to us. Love of traveling.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful? Health. Healthy self, spouse, kids, even parents.
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? I wish we had traveled or moved around some — I feel like my experiences and my family’s experiences were narrow and that influenced who we became.
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible. I was born when my mother was 17 in Trenton GA. I spent a lot of time when I was young with my grandparents — both my father’s and my mother’s parents, both in or around Trenton GA. I read a lot of books and went to bookstores with my Aunt Carol, then I went Lakeview HS, a white, southern public school. I went to Emory, but got knocked up and had my daughter at 19, married a few years later to the boy I dated in HS, a NJ boy, and he adopted my daughter when we married. I finished a BA in English at UTC, then worked at Unum for 19 years. During that time, I stayed married, had a son, completed an MFA, got promoted a few times. I quit last year, my kids are grown or almost grown. I tell people I am a writer.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? Real — wisdom and/or increased intelligence. Fantasy — I would be able to fly.
To answer another day:
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “
26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.