Monday, February 2, 2009

Where They Would Like To Go— Together

Breaking The Rules
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to retreat for a day each with two good friends on separate occasions. Both times turned out to be delightful chances to share, explore and understand the nature of relationships, especially as they pertain to romantic relationships between men and women.


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going hiking in the Harriman State Park with Staci Jon and Nikki. It was a cool 40 degrees when we began our ascent into the snow-covered mountains at ten AM. We hiked for a few hours till we reached the summit at Sunset Lake, which was one long sheet of ice. We then sat for a while to eat lunch while overlooking this magically giant ice-skating rink before we headed back to civilization.

During our hike we talked about and examined a vast array of topics about love, life, and human nature including:

How men and women communicate differently
Why women tend to like older men
What it means to be happy, especially as we get older and face the social
pressures of “success”
What it is like to have children and how parenting changes your life, for better and for worse
The importance of instilling values in children and the process by which they ultimately become who they are, and…
What do we really want from life, especially when we dream about being bold enough to bow out of the rat race, once and for all.

It was an intriguing day of exercise for the heart, body, mind and soul, to say the least.


On the previous day, Saturday, I had taken a train from Grand Central Station, in the heart of New York City, to New Haven, Connecticut, home of Yale University.

I was paying a visit to my fey friend, Adwa, who kindly picked me up at the station when I arrived at noon. From there we spent the day together catching up and reminiscing about our special friendship, one that has only existed for a couple of years, but one that we both believe feels like we’ve been friends forever.

We started out at a local deli where I had a cup of coffee while she checked her e-mail. At one point we got to perusing through my most recent picture posts, whereby I updated her on life with my boys and my budding romance with Chelsea.

For a late lunch-into dinner we went to (Frank) Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana on Wooster Street in Little Italy, where we shared an incredibly scrumptious Original Tomato Pie with Mozzarella, complemented by a couple of glasses of draft Little Falls Ale. We sat there at a table made for two in the corner of this popular restaurant smiling in gastronomical ecstasy for over an hour, while hordes of extended families likewise ate and laughed all around us.

We ended this wonderful day by going to Adwa’s favorite book store and café, Atticus on Chapel Street, where we shared a cup of Mexican hot chocolate with a shot of espresso and two truffles—one Passion Fruit and the other Bourbon Pecan.

Recently, I had developed an interest in the work of Anaïs Nin, so I picked up her book of erotica, Delta of Venus, and brought it to the counter where we were eating to read. I spontaneously read a bit to Adwa, discreetly whispering excerpts, while we sipped and noshed at bits of soft and hard chocolate.

I read a few paragraphs from the part where Leila took Bijou horseback riding in the Bois. It suddenly became exceedingly warm in the café when Leila suggested, “Let’s take off our clothes and get on the horses together.”

Needless to say, by the time Leila and Bijou were lying on a bed of moss in the middle of the forest and there were mere smudges of cocoa crème left on our plate, we were both so riled that we needed to stop reading and venture back outside for some fresh air.


However, the most exciting and enlightening part of the day for me was when we went to the Yale University Art Gallery a few hours earlier that day.

Among the highlights was a grand, larger-than-life painting of a woman seated alone before the sea, dressed in a flowing pink gown and crown of gold.

Having recently renewed my efforts to write my first epic novel and subsequently taken up an intense study of the mythology of Muses of ancient Greece as a result, I inferred that this had to be Calliope, the muse of all muses, the muse of heroic poetry who is best known for inspiring Homer to write the Odyssey and the Iliad.

Alas, there was no identifying plaque on the wall, and my retrospective search on the gallery’s website did not reveal who she was or who painted her.

Nonetheless and allthemore, the mystery of it all was a perfect complement to the muse I was spending a whimsical day with, one who has long been one of the most intriguing and enigmatic women I have ever known.

However, the most important exhibit for me was Picasso and the Allure of Language, a survey of “the relationship between art and literature, and painting and writing, in Picasso's work.”

At the farthest reaches of the exhibit I found my holy grail. Inscribed in white upon a bright red wall, there was a quote that read:

“If I begin correcting the mistakes you speak of according to the rules with no relation to me, I will lose my individuality to grammar I have not incorporated. I prefer to create myself as I see fit than to bend my words to rules that don’t belong to me.” —Pablo Picasso, 1946

As the nature and evolution of relationships seemed to be the running theme of my life lately, I immediately had an epiphany. For I came to realize that the rules that individuals play and live by (as individuals) need to subsequently be adjusted, whenever two individuals attempt to forge a romantic union of everlasting intent.

For example, after having been married for ten years, I’ve come to believe that it is vital for married couples to create their own holiday traditions together overtime, if they want the marriage to last.

Holidays tend to be held in high regard, set high expectations, and often reunite family and close friends after substantial periods of being apart. As a consequence, these are times when emotions run high and thus it is no surprise that the holidays tend to have the highest crime rates, which tend to be primarily domestic disputes.

Thus, when couples brace for and face the holidays together, I’ve concluded that it behooves them to try and balance things out by proactively forging new traditions together, ones which may require that they combine and relinquish some of those traditions that each of them have held since childhood.

Picasso’s quote took this idea-ideal a step further for me, because I began to think that if two individuals care to forge a solid long-term relationship, there’s an even more important change that needs to be made than the slash-and-burn, Phoenixing transition of long-held and cherished holiday traditions.

For if you want to make a relationship work, each individual needs to apply this revisionary-revolutionary process to their daily rules, those values that determine who they are, how they act and how they perceive the world and life around them.

It is vital to see that as couples grow together they need to communicate openly about the how, whys and wherefores of their values, words and actions. In other words, each person not only needs to know where the other is “coming from,” that is what are the rules that govern how they live, but both of them also need to be willing to change and or let go of some of their core values, so that they can go forward together as a couple and make rules that they can live by, together.

And albeit, it may seem that the idea of making one’s own rules together as a couple is common sense, it is certainly much easier said than done. Because in reality, it requires a concerted effort by both partners, as well as consistent, candid and clear communication that confirms that each person is willing to break away from their old individual rules, traditions, and habits, and to go forward with new co-mingled values that they can live by together as a couple.

Moreover, couples also need to occasionally share their individual life experiences, so that they have a better understanding of where each person is coming from, and more importantly, where they would like to gotogether.

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