When I was 29, I was engaged to an older man. We were of different generations, and one of the places where this was most evident was in the car, most notably in our choice of radio stations. I remember one ride in particular - to the airport, though I don't remember where we were going - I wanted music, preferably something upbeat and lively. He wanted NPR. He was driving, so he won. I was bored to tears.
I am now ten years older than I was when he and I met, and I have come to understand this proclivity, in the same way I now understand Erikson's stage of midlife, generativity vs. stagnation. My ex was there then. I was not. I was in a different place (intimacy vs. isolation, for those of you playing along at home), with a far less substantial interest in the goings-on of the world beyond that car, so the stories I heard on NPR were irrelevant to me, or at least to my priorities at the time.
Much has changed since then. Now the parent of a fourteen-year-old (identity vs. role confusion), I tolerate her music every morning when I drive her to school, but when she gets out of the car, I waste no time changing the station, usually to NPR. From her world to my world, and into the world that lies beyond our immediate concerns.
I never wonder if not ending up with that ex was a mistake - any lingering thoughts about that were erased when I met my husband - but I do sometimes wonder if he still listens to NPR.