Ryan And His Real Wife (Her Name is Airplanes)

by - 7:56 AM

My husband loves airplanes. Just...he loves them. I could say that he loves vehicles in general, and he does, but airplanes are somehow more special than cars or motorcycles.

Several months ago, when he informed me that he was going to learn to fly, my brain initiated an intense tug-of-war. Side one was all kinds of enthusiastic and was like, "he's an adventurer. And hot. He's a hot adventurer." Side two was more along the lines of, "miles, vertical, like straight up into the stratosphere, is kind of a long ways. And um, he could die."

Ryan basically equated it to driver's education, you know, like in a car. Except, my thoughts are that if you screw up in parallel parking, nobody dies, but if you make a mistake in the air, well, that's a different story. So my brain ran around in circles for a while, but ultimately gave up the exhausting exercise. I learned forever ago that my successful relationship has a lot to do with choosing my battles and a man's choice to pursue his passions is not one I'm going to attempt to fight with. If he wants to fly, I'm going to make an active choice to nurture the brain team that says, "he's a pilot and that's pretty cool. And hot."


One of my favorite things in the world is seeing someone I love being passionate about something they love. It's like getting to know a part of them that you can't know. I don't care about planes, other than as a means of convenient transportation, so I can't fully comprehend the part of Ryan that loves to watch them fly, see how they work, and understand how they're used. I don't get it and quite frankly, I never will. That's a side I only know in theory. There were people I remember in high school, like that. I knew of them, but not anything about them.

While Ryan and I were on vacation, I got to see that side of him. We visited Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona for an air show featuring airplanes that I can't name, but that Ryan can by sight. I was pretty much on board for this trip because I could smell the fair food twenty miles away and things like turkey legs the length of my thigh bone and economy sized cups of freshly squeezed lemonade complete with three full cups of refined sugar are what I can name by sight.

Ryan's a pretty good tour guide, even when he doesn't have to be. We walked through a giant parking lot with enormous planes lined up and he explained each one. "That one, over there....Jennifer, are you listening?! That's a B-52." I'd nod and say "cool" because, I mean, it really is cool. He's very smart and I can tell you that because you're not him. If I tell him that he's very smart, he'll nod authoritatively and respond with "I know everything, Jennifer."

So the afternoon progressed --
"That's a bomber. See the pin-up painted on the door?"
"Can we get some Italian ice? I want Mexican for dinner tonight."
"That one was used in WWII. Those escorted the bombers."
"That girl has frozen lemonade! Where did she get that!? Follow that girl!"

"They need to be escorted because bombers are slow." 
"Make sure you take a picture of that one."
"You wanna bite of my corn-on-the-cob?"

Kudos to you if you can guess who said what.
Actually, no kudos at all. You know exactly which is which. Ryan was examining air carriers while I was all, "Oh, that's cool. Will you take a picture of my pretty dress? It's new."

I'm going to share a story that I've shared about a bazillion times, so forgive me. Ryan and I made our first trip together to Arizona more than 6 years ago. We'd been dating about four months. One night, Ryan fired up his step-dad's motorcycle and looked at me with a grin as it roared. "Hop on, Jenn," he said. I probably shook my head pretty feverishly, but eventually I got behind him and held on tight. Five minutes later, my hair was flying behind me and I knew that I had met an adventurer. I remember so specifically thinking this guy will take me on adventures. Fast-forward fiveish years, when he tells me wants to fly, and the adventure continues.

It's a shared human experience to want to nurture the passions of someone you love. If you love them more than yourself, you want them to be happy, even if it scares you. Ryan nurtures my writing on a freakin' daily basis. He tells me that he thinks I'm awesome and gently tells me "you should write more." He also nurtures my desire to wear a fedora that he blatantly finds ugly. He's a pretty good nurturer.

Can I nurture adventure? Uh, yes. Adventure has been very good to me, and on that afternoon, it was easy to reciprocate the nurturing. As he marched around, explaining the purpose of each plane to me like an encyclopedia boss, I decided to add a new member to the tug-of-war team in my brain. I put myself on team 'he's-a-hot-adventurer-pilot.'

And we win.

PS - Ryan really is a pilot. In this photo, he was downright giddy. "Jennifer, take of picture of me, holding keys in front of this F-35. I want to send it to my flight instructor."

 I'm a nurturer.

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  1. It's so cute seeing guys get excited about stuff like this... the little boy in them! :)