despite ourselves

by breannruthwhite


My husband is really good with mechanical processes. He can take apart a car and put it back together. He can read music. Understand the rules of an organized game. Build sturdy, functional things. He writes and reads with purpose. He can meticulously follow a recipe and yield pleasing, expected results.

1 plus 1 equals 2.

If he stepped up to a blank canvas, freshly stretched over its wooden frame, he would think for a while before picking up the brush. He would need a plan. He would need to know each brush’s function. How much water combined with black would make which shade of gray. His planned image would likely be symbolic and a very literal sense.

I have spent a large portion of our relationship marveling at his particularities. At how completely talented he is. How confident that 1 plus 1 will always equal 2. Because I have spent a large portion of my own life around organized games, football and basketball in particular. I am almost 26, and in the stands, I daydream. I still don’t understand what is going on.

If I took a car apart, it would be toast. I would set out to build a chair and end up just hammering random chunks of wood together and call it therapy.

I can’t read music. When I write, instead of having a specific story to tell, I wade around in the whiteness of this space and see what happens.

My recipes are sometimes very, very felt out. Sometimes I guess measurements.

1 plus 1 equals… I forget.


If I stepped up to the blank canvas, I would pick up a brush in seconds. I would splash it in some water and mix two colors together. Two colors I was drawn to without explanation. I would have just feel it. Those two colors.

My brush would sail around the canvas to the rhythm of something very innate that I have never fully understood.

Don’t get me wrong. I like plans. I like control over people and situations. But when it comes to being mechanical, to creating something functional, I am pretty useless. Because of how I paint. Because of how I am.

Sometimes my husband and I do not understand each other, and I have a hunch that we never fully will. He can’t take me apart and put me back together. He can’t anticipate what I am going to say or why I feel the way I do.



I have recently decided that the people I am closest to, the people I think I know so well, are all too specific to be fully understood. Sometimes, to say I do understand is a bit demeaning. Sometimes, all I can do is confess that I don’t. And appreciate them anyway.

. . .

What I love about my own parents is that they seem to have come to terms with this. That they are different and complex. Yet in some way, probably some way that comes with time, they have grown into each other. Despite the mystery of each other.

. . .

I confess that being a parent has not made this easier. Caring for and raising a small person while trying to purposely grow together as a married couple has felt more difficult and puzzling than my 6th grade math homework.

And yet, there we both are, tucked away inside our 17-month-old. In the lines of his face. In his eyes. In the way he runs around outside with wild, free-spirited abandon. In the way he meticulously screws and unscrews caps onto recycled bottles, trying to figure out how they work. In the way he loves barbeque sauce, like daddy. And like me, totally digs a homemade breakfast cookie.

So I try to visualize my husband and myself at the same canvas. Working through our painting together. Disagreeing a lot. Finding harmony here and there. And creating something beautiful despite ourselves.


Fudgy Chocolate Rye Muffins

From A Sweet Spoonful

Yield 12 muffins

  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60%), broken into bits
  • 1 cup whole-grain rye flour (or spelt or whole-wheat if you prefer)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup cane sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tray with paper liners (or butter well).

Place the cornstarch, cocoa, brown sugar and water into a saucepan and whisk together constantly over medium heat until boiling and quite thick. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and chocolate until thoroughly combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Add the oil, vanilla and eggs to the chocolate mixture and stir well. Fold in the sugar and continue stirring until mixture is smooth and thick. Fold in the flour mixture and stir until no clumps remain.

Spoon the batter into muffin liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops have puffed and are dry to the touch — yet still a touch jiggly in the center . Let cool on a wire rack before serving.