Living Together – The First Year

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Living Together – The First Year

“The best relationships usually begin unexpectedly.” Unknown

May First marks our first year of living together. Was it just a year ago that I was worrying about sharing closet space, how to split costs and who’s art would go where? I had deeper concerns also. Would we grow to hate each other? Would resentment fester over my messiness or his need for a lot of alone time?  Would moving in together end up moving us apart?

I also moved into an apartment after living in a house for many years. The walk up stairs are no joke when you have the dog and packages. The landlady lives underneath us – a fact that seasoned apartment dwellers would have taken into consideration. Parking is a nightmare.

Somehow we figured out how to exist together in a way that’s both scary and comforting, hilarious and serious, calming and nerve racking, and utterly unique in every way. 

Then Covid 19 arrived in Los Angeles. The virus that had felt abstract and in faraway places like China, Iran, and Italy was spreading across our city.  The fear of Covid 19 and what it would do to our relationship as we navigated the crisis during this first year of living together was real. Suddenly we were spending every single minute in the house together for weeks. We had two beautiful trips planned during this time that were both abruptly cancelled. Our conversations quickly went from where we should eat in Paris to how much toilet paper do we have left.

 At the start  of living together, I was worried that the mundanity of everyday life would kill all the romance and excitement between us. COVID-19, it turns out, has made our life even smaller and more mundane than I could have ever imagined. We barely leave the apartment except for special occasions like a morning or afternoon walk on the beach. We play word games when there is a lull in the conversation. I am usually in sweat pants or jeans and no makeup. We watch a lot of TV and have settled into an equilibrium over cooking and cleaning because there are no schedules to coordinate. 

In an unexpected twist of circumstance, COVID-19 will come to define this rather momentous step in our relationship. The crisis has also hit me with some much-needed perspective and gratitude. I feel lucky to navigate all of this with someone I love. At a time when public safety demands social distance, I feel grateful to have so little space separating us.

Self quarantined in our apartment, inundated with news and confusion about COVID-19, we are doing fine. Perhaps the real test of our relationship will come when the fears of COVID-19 subside and we once again have to decide if we will stay or move. Whatever we decide, I think we will make it through.

Stay safe,

JAZ

 

 

Giving Gifts

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Giving Gifts

“Books make great gifts because they have the whole world inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!” Neil Gaiman

We all grow up with healthy and unhealthy stories about love. When I was growing up, I learned some beautiful things about love. I learned that loving people means treating them with kindness. Loving a person means believing in their potential, cheering them on and celebrating their successes. It means not wasting your time trying to change them. Just try to help them see their own brilliance. 

But I also learned the unhealthy things which weren’t so helpful to me. I learned that loving someone means putting them above yourself and always being available to them. It turns out not to be true. Being a martyr helps no one. Living like this breeds resentment. Another was to  always listen to whatever they have to say – even in an angry voice. That turns out not to be true as well. 

There are many ways of expressing love. There is speech, touch, quality time and special kindnesses. Some people show love through food.  Cooking is a way to bring people together, to love  and to listen. I didn’t grow up in a family that cooked like that so I did not understand  until I was older, that cooking for someone was more about love than sustenance. 

I have always been a shopper. The idea of buying a gift is to show someone you were thinking of them, you recognize what they do for you and you’ve paid attention to their likes and chosen something for them. It is a way that I can show love when words are uncomfortable. A gift says I love you or I notice what you do for me without  any physical touch except the appropriate hug.

When I travel, I don’t have a lot of time to shop. My favorite thing is to find the perfect piece of street art or photograph for my kids. They have pieces from all over the world. I buy beaded bracelets in countries that do that and give them to my family and friends.  When I find something I like that is inexpensive and specific to a country, I buy a few as gifts. I like people to know that I think about them when I travel.

Gift giving should be simple but for me it is complicated. It is hard to figure out what another person might want or need.  It isn’t about a price tag but a way of communicating. I don’t think about what I want to buy. I think about what I want to say to this person. If I do not know the person well enough or I am out of ideas,  I try to think of gifts that most people would like such as scarves, wine, donations in their name or gift certificates    

The gold standard for the perfect gift is a genuine smile on a kid or anyone’s face when they open it.

Happy Holidays and Fly Safe,

JAZ

Things That I Have Learned About Myself After Being In A Relationship For A Year

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Things That I Have Learned About Myself After Being In A Relationship For A Year.

“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.” Lisa Kleypas

The year has been exciting, emotional, amazing, challenging, frustrating, enchanting, surprising, and about fifty other adjectives that range from great to terrible. But it has all been worth it. And it has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. Here are some of the things that I have learned. 

I eat so much more than he does.

I boyfriend proofed my house. I hid everything that I did not want him to see. Don’t hide things that you use every day because you will need them and have to look for them in the middle of the night.

Character is important – loyalty,  discipline,  values, integrity, kindness  and  humility.

Intelligence is also important.

I still take my make up off after he goes to sleep.

One of you is going to be the sloppy one. Yes, my purse looks like an episode of hoarders. The other one will cook.

It is true that I have way too many pillows on my bed. They are all my favorite pillows. I like to have my  pillows arranged in a particular way because I am a terrible sleeper and I feel it helps. He can sleep with any pillow. It works.

Laughing is great. We can both laugh at ourselves.  Sometimes I laugh  when I am by myself and I think of something funny that he said earlier.  It’s a little weird.

We have the same taste in music. Not the regular stuff that everyone likes but also Tom Waits and Bach.

We have similar taste in clothes but he puts them together better now. I like having a blank canvas to work with. 

There are people who  leave things open – toothpaste, vitamins, cabinets and people who do not.

An argument is an annoying learning opportunity. We don’t have them often.

There is a difference between a red flag and a human flaw. Being in a relationship doesn’t fix anyone’s flaws.

Beautiful flowers always work when you make a mistake.

We are going to continue to get to know each other –  the good and the bad. It’s a process. Relationships get real. I’m learning that.

Fly safe,

JAZ

What Did It Feel Like On Your Last Day Of Being A Child And Other Questions Asked By Children All Over The World

 Philosophical Questions Asked By Children All Over The World

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” Voltaire

In the past  two  years of my blog I have done Proust and  Kant questions on travel and in life  for the new year.  This time, I collected philosophy questions from children on my travels and from the writing program I volunteer in.  I didn’t answer them but they give me something to thing about for the new year.

How do you know if someone is really your friend?

What is imagination?

Is it possible to hold a fair race?

Can animals think?

Why do we cry?

What’s the difference between telling a lie and keeping a secret?

Is it ever ok to steal?

When did you start to think?

What does love mean?

Does my turtle know me?

What is the difference between intelligence and wisdom?

Why are we born?

Why are we here?

Why is there evil in the world?

If we all go to heaven, why did God put us here first?

Does the universe have an edge?

Do we have to be sad sometimes to be happy at other times?

If you had a different name would you be a different person?

Why am I me and not someone else?

How do you know life is not a dream?

Do we all have the same rights?

Why does time move slow when we are afraid and fast when we are on vacation?

Does God exist?

Who made God?

What does God do all day?

Who are God’s parents?

If God is everywhere, is he in my class?

Do you want peace and quiet?

What is my job in this world?

Where does time go when it is over?

What did it feel like on your last day of being a child?

Are we here for a reason?

Am I supposed to know this?

Happy New Year and Fly Safe

JAZ