Jul 032011

Kestryl: What do you want in your omelette?

Sassafras: Cheddar and onions.

Kestryl: Regular onions or green onions?

Sassafras: Green ones.

Kestryl: I could have guessed that’s what you were going to say.

Sassafras: I know what I like!

Kestryl: And we’re kinda creatures of habit…

Sassafras: I’m a Taurus.

Kestryl: What does that have to do with it?!

Sassafras: I like stability…. In my omelette.

This week, we’re thinking about routines in relationships–and not just for the earth signs!  As we’ve talked about before, surprises and spontaneity are an important part of keeping a relationship interesting, but rituals and routines also play an important role in sustaining our partnership.

The brunch Kestryl made while we wrote this blog.

In some ways, we’re creatures of habit, or at least we look like it if you look at some of our recurring routines.  This blog is a great example. We’ve discovered that we write best together over brunch, and by “over brunch,” we don’t mean sitting at a restaurant somewhere in Park Slope. We mean that Kestryl stands in the kitchen and dices scallions and beats eggs, and Sassafras sits at the kitchen table, laptop open to type up the ensuing conversation. We’ve tried different ways to write: in the park, on the couch… all without much success. Sometimes, once you find something that works, you need to keep it and not try to change it up.

Kestryl: Things don’t get boring though.

Sassafras: I’m never bored.

Kestryl: I mean, it would be hard to get bored living with a dinosaur.

Sassafras: I am a dinosaur.

Kestryl: Yes, that’s what I was saying.

Sassafras: Ohhhhhh, yeah, I tend to make life pretty interesting.

Kestryl: I think it’s that we lead such busy lives, we need the routines and rituals in order to really have a relationship.   You don’t want spinach in your omelette, do you?

Sassafras: EWWWWW no.

It can be hard to really make time for a relationship between friends, work, art, community, etc. There are a lot of competeing demands for your time, energy and attention. But, a relationship –while it requires attention–doesn’t have to be all consuming. Relationships are built out of all of the small actions you do for each other and/or together. For us, routines are a big part of what grounds our relationship, providing each of us with the stability we need in order to take on the less predictable parts of the world.   This doesn’t mean that our relationship or the acts that build it are wholly predictable, but you can’t have spontaneity unless you have something regular that you are departing from.

Many of our routines are the small acts that build our home.  For example, Kestryl makes a home-cooked dinner nearly every night. We make a point, no matter how busy we are, to eat dinner together practically every night of the week (and then do the dishes together afterwards!).  We block out Saturday mornings in our schedules to go grocery shopping together. The queers working at the Brooklyn Trader Joes always get a little worried when one of us is on tour and our schedule departs from normal. Sassafras is a morning person, and has Kestryl’s coffee ready and lunch packed by the time ze is out of the shower on every weekday that one of us isn’t on the road. For us, these are not only practical- after all everyone needs to eat– but are also ways we know we can depend on each other and small routines that reaffirm our relationship.

Kestryl: Gee, listening to this you would think all of our rituals are about food.

Sassafras: You do like to cook.

Kestryl: Right, and I guess food is one of those primal things.

Sassafras: GRAREARE (primal dinosaur noises).

Kestryl: We must have some rituals that aren’t food based though.

Sassafras: We do!

Kestryl: I mean, more than eating does happen in our relationship…. I think 😉

Sasssafras: I just SAID, we do have rituals that aren’t about food!

Kestryl: Clearly they are so routine that I don’t even realize that we have them…

Sassafras: Oh yeah? I thought your boots looked pretty nice last week at dyke march!

Dinosaurs and boots.

One area of our life where routine passes into the realm of ritual is a more explicit part of our leather-based power exchange.  Before big events where we want to look our best (and on an ongoing basis), Sassafras is responsible for keeping Kestryl’s boots polished and in good repair. Beyond this, on a daily basis, Sassafras puts Kestryl’s boots on for hir when ze is leaving the house, and removes them when ze returns home (provided that both are present at the time of departure and/or arrival- there is plenty of flexibility here. Kestryl does not wait around in boots for Sassafras to get home from work two hours later in order to remove them).  For Sassafras, the service and ritual involved in these interactions is particularly grounding and reaffirming of hir place  and how nurtured and contained ze is.  For Kestryl, the ritual is a part of preparing to leave the comforts of home and face the world, and re-entering the home when the boots come off.

We believe that rituals and routines are important for building stability in any ongoing relationship. An crucial part of creating routines is making sure that you don’t create a situation where anyone feels bored or trapped (remember to keep it cute). Routines and rituals look different for every relationship, and they develop organically in most.  Spend some time talking with your partner(s) to figure out what you are already doing, what’s important to continue, and what (if anything) you would like to build.

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