How I Like My Eggs

There are a few good reasons to watch the 1999 movie, The Runaway Bride. They are: Julia Roberts’ laugh, Richard Gere’s hair, and the bit about the eggs.

The movie is about a woman who molds herself into whatever and whoever the man she’s currently with wants her to be. She eats eggs the way her man likes them and doesn’t realize that she doesn’t know her own preferences. She can get herself to the brink of marriage, but then something—let’s call it reasonable fear—kicks in and she understands she’s about to make a mistake. But it’s a mistake she keeps making.

It’s not a great movie, though it should have been. It should have been because it hits home for so many women. It illustrates a problem many of us recognize, even if we’re loath to see it in ourselves.

I was thinking about The Runaway Bride as I spent the day recently on the border of Idaho and Montana. We were on cross-country skis, out in the middle of nowhere, my dog Helen running in deep snow like some kind of crazed winter critter, my boyfriend John carrying a pack with cookies, Wheat Thins, chocolate, miso soup, and water, and I knew there wasn’t anything I would have preferred doing at that moment.

Rachel Toor Ski

The day before we had gone alpine skiing at a resort. It was cold. I was cold. I am always cold—it is one of my least appealing traits—but that day, even critters with thick white fur wouldn’t have wanted to be outdoors. I’d ski off the chair and we’d go all the way down and I’d never warm up. Then we had to get right back on that chilly chair. After a few morning runs, I told John that I was going to go inside for a while and that I’d meet him after lunch. I had my Kindle with me and, after thawing out for a few hours, when I came back again I was able to enjoy myself.

I skied as a kid, but didn’t start again until I was in my mid-twenties and had hooked up with my future ex-husband. We lived in New York City and he loved to ski. So each weekend we’d work our day jobs and then drive four or five hours to ski. We skied as if it was a job: up early to catch the first chair and didn’t stop until the last. At that time, I wasn’t an athlete, and I wasn’t able to say no. My future ex-husband introduced me to the “Accelerated Learning Method,” where he’d take me to a run that was way too hard for me and say, “You can do it.”

I could do it. Sort of. But it took a really long time to get down, and it wasn’t much fun; terror isn’t the best catalyst for a good time. To be fair, I never said I didn’t want to do any of those black diamond runs. I never said I didn’t really like to go skiing. I didn’t think about whether or not I liked it. He did, so we went.

For the last couple of decades, I hardly skied at all. It never seemed worth the bother, worth the cost, worth suffering in the cold. Last year, I decided to try to make friends with winter and started skiing—both Alpine (what I’d learned to call “downhill”) and cross-country, now known as “classic” or “Nordic.” I went to a number of different ski areas with friends and had an okay time, but what I really liked was skiing around my neighborhood with my dog on a long leash in an approximation of a sport called “skijoring.”

John isn’t picky about his snow sports. He’s the kind of guy who has more pairs of skis than he does shoes. In fact, he has lots of different kinds of gear for lots of different kinds of sports and outdoors activities. Some of those are things that I like, some I will never do (whitewater kayaking? NEVER), and some I might just try.

The difference in meeting someone in your fifties as opposed to when you’re a twenty-something is that at this point, I know how I like my eggs—and pretty much everything else. I am willing to take a crack at new things, and sometimes I surprise myself by liking activities that I didn’t think I would. But now I choose not to pursue them if they’re not a good fit and don’t make excuses. Like Popeye, I understand that I yam what I yam.

RACHEL TOOR is a distance runner who used to be an “either/or” kind of person. She thought: either you were a nerdy little egghead, or you were an outdoorsy jock. She spent the first thirty years of her life indoors with a book. Then she started running... more »

Comments

  1. Elaine says:

    I understand exactly what you mean about knowing yourself and your preferences, and I think this is a great reminder for women to embrace who and what they are, regardless of what their partner might prefer.

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  2. Kathleen says:

    You are SO RIGHT, Rachel! Thank you for this message! I hope to get to meet you if you’re in Missoula this summer!

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  3. Thanks for the good words, Rachel. I now have “Free to be You and Me” running through my head. :-)

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  4. Rachel Toor says:

    Kathleen–I am frequently in Missoula in the summer and always there for the marathon. Track me down!
    Gen–you’re showing your (our) age.

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  5. Judith Weitz says:

    A wonderful read. Thank you. So nice to hear encouraging words before heading off into this wonderful world.

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  6. Really enjoyed this post – I think I can safely say that I’ve reached that point in my life where I too, know what I like and don’t like, and refuse to spend time doing the things I don’t like. This is a great lesson to pass on to my daughters!

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  7. Rachel,
    Thanks for putting a feeling that I have had for so long into words. It’s absolutely freeing to realize that you get to CHOSE what you want to do or get into and that you don’t have to pursue everything. I love trying new things and seeing new places, which is one of the reasons that I became an Adventure Expert for Ethos Adventures, but I know that I am not going to love everything I try and that I don’t need to love it all. It’s ok that I am a certified scuba diver and have no real desire to go ever again. It’s ok not to do and be everything all of the time. I love that because it means that I can spend my time doing and being what I do love and like you said, sometimes I discover new things to love along the way! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  8. imdb says:

    Amen! I learned to ski in my 20′s, but to keep up with my kids, learned to snowboard in my 40′s. With my wonderful boyfriend, of 5 years, I’ve been kayaking, skydiving, night boarding, rock climbing, 5ks…He’s a great catalyst, and I’m an eager participant! I often have people tell me they didn’t think I was 40 yet because I’m always trying these new adventures (as if that should matter). And just for the record, I too am always cold!

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  9. Rachel Toor says:

    I am so inspired to hear about women learning new tricks later in life. Younger folks: this is what you have to look forward to. Despite what you may have heard, aging can be a great thing. Appreciate your youth, your ability to stay up late (and to sleep!), to eat and drink vast quantities, to decide how and where you want to live, but also look at these women and realize: it also gets better. It keeps getting better.

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  10. Valerie Cannon says:

    After I got a divorce, I stood in the cereal aisle and didn’t know what kind of cereal I liked. My ex had always chosen. He was also a climber and spelunker and I was often screaming on the end of a rope or deep inside an (unmarked) cave. I’m in my 50′s, too, and my current husband is nothing like that — but I’ve swum Alcatraz (twice) and the Golden Gate. My choice to do those things, he wasn’t even present for 2 of those events!! Life is so good these days…thanks, Rachel.

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