Ask not what your relationship can do for you…

shopping for labels? shopping for love?

When it comes to finding a mate, we all have long shopping lists. We have lists of superficial things we prefer (ex. he should be tall and work at Goldman), of values we want matched (he should like children and vote Democrat), and of qualities we think we need (he should be financially sound and be able to make me laugh).

But let’s not forget what we’re really after when we set out to find love everlasting…

What we really want is a travel companion or biking-buddy, fellow Trekkie or like minded museum-junkie, congenial Scrabble adversary or able party co-host. In short, what we’re really looking for is a teammate.

Everyone knows the cliche “there’s no ‘I’ in TEAM,” and anyone whose played a sport or watched a professional franchise win a championship knows what makes a team successful: synergy.  One person makes up for the short-comings of the other, while both foster and bolster each others’ talents. Yes, a successful team is whole that is greater that the sum of its parts, and love-based relationships are no different.

That being said, when it comes to finding the Misty May Treanor to your Kerri Walsh, or the Jorge Posada to your Mariano Rivera,  it’s important to have a grasp not only on what they bring to the relationship, but also on what you can or can’t provide in this partnership. I’m not necessarily prescribing a selfless “ask not what your relationship can do for you, ask what you can do for your relationship” approach to a new flame — that’s extremely dangerous territory in which to tread. But I do think it a worthwhile exercise to evaluate, as objectively as possible, your strengths and weaknesses as 1/2 of a couple.

I suppose, if I prescribe, I should take the first does:

My greatest strength as both a friend and lover is my loyalty. I’m an excellent and sincere cheerleader who will always be there on the sidelines ready to help you up after a bad game.

My greatest weakness? I want to me my own person. To some (read: a select few), my independent, stand on my own feet, “this is who I am, this is what I want and I’m going to get it”  attitude is attractive. But it’s often my biggest relationship roadblock. I have no doubt that my athletic aspirations and career goals have dead-ended several potentially awesome romances. For a long time, I simply wasn’t available enough to be someone’s girlfriend. Yet, while I may have more time in my schedule for dates and weekend getaways, I still refuse to subjugate my ambitions to those of someone else. Sorry, but I want Glen Lowry’s job, and I’m not going to get it if I have to move to Oklahoma with you.

In coming to terms with my relationship shortcoming, it seems I’ve found the critical, must-have quality on my significant-other shopping list: allows me to be independent.

I guess I don’t sound like too much of a team player, do I? That’s not entirely fair. Compromises will be made by both me and my mister, because at the end of the day, if I get to be my own person, so does he. The challenge is finding someone whose goals happen to be compatible with mine…and I don’t just mean retiring early to a villa in Tuscany.

Finding a Green Thumb

view from the front porch on a summer day -- everything green was planted by my parents

A year ago, on my alter-ego site Meet Me in the Drawing Room, I wrote about the Underappreicated Dangers of Gardening. At the time, my relationship with gardening was a tenuous one. I tromped to the local nursery begrudgingly and planted impatiens impatiently. Planting and pruning were chores that needed to be done, but I can’t say I was a particular fan of laying down woodchips.

One summer not too long ago, a friend called to ask for advice because they were planting a garden along their driveway. I laughed as I hit redial. Little did they know… gardening was my cod-liver oil.

Two weeks ago, a different friend asked for my help in designing a flowerbed in his backyard. I jumped for joy and started listing a selection of annuals and herbs that would not only look good together, but would also thrive in the yard’s shade/sunlight distribution.

Yes, I am now a gardening fanatic. Give me a pair of hedge trimmers, and call me Edward Sisscorhands. I’ve voluntarily gone to the nursery more times in two weeks than I ever thought possible. I have plans for a rose garden. Today, after my yoga class, I tackled the last un-landscaped corner of front yard. As I stood under the Juliet balcony, daisies in one hand and trowel in the other, my mother stared in disbelief before running to get me a gin & tonic. She was concerned — I mean, only yesterday, I had planted an herb garden and a cluster of dahlias.

I entertain. I do yoga. I have an MRS degree. I decorate. Now, I garden. They didn’t call me Mini-Martha in college for nothing, ya know.

today's lanscaping endeavor

When my parents bought our home, a turn-of-the-century field-stone and wood farmhouse, back in the 1970s, it was smaller, more rural, and in need of landscaping. Mum & Dad were in their mid to late twenties and new to the States with little money to their names. It was their first house and they were determined to make it their home. Armed with pick-axes and spades, they dug-up over-grown rose gardens and planted  hedges, evergreens, and willows. My grandmother smuggled Barberry and maples in from Canada and Rhododendrons were purchased from the nursery.

“I think your father nearly threw the pick-axe at me,” my mother told me when she handed me the gin. I wasn’t surprised.

“We had a fight about where to dig the holes.” Still not surprised.

“I think I won.” I would have been surprised if you hadn’t.

view of our yard post the epic storm of early 2010. trees scattered all over

The winter and early spring of 2010 wrought havoc on our yard. Putting aside the dozens of downed branches, we lost the last apple tree on our property — it used to be an apple orchard — as well as two large pines. There’s a gaping hole at the corner of our fence. I’m determined to plant two more rhododendron there. Or maybe that’s where I’ll plant my rose garden.

Despite my ambition, there is a problem. Roses or rhododendron, there are large holes to dig and I need a partner willing to wield a pick-axe and a spade. Gardening is back-breaking work, and it’s always better to have a buddy breaking their back with you (preferably, one with some muscles who takes direction well… knowing his way around a nursery would be a plus).

I make good iced-tea and will willingly bring it out on a tray with some homebaked cookies.

I promise, I won’t throw a pick-axe at you.