Despite my own penchant for romantic catastrophes, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a good story about love gone right. And so, I have decided to sprinkle some dopamine-laden optimism to this blog by introducing a new feature, in which I profile happy couples on their journey to relationship success. To kick it off, I bring to you my good friend and author of The Formula Blog, Aimee Blaut, the newly Aimee Blaut Nord. Aimee is a fellow European expat who picked up her life in New York and followed true love across the Atlantic, all the way to Sweden, where she now lives with her husband, Perfect Fools motion designer Karl Nord. I had the pleasure of attending their beautiful wedding in Florida this past November (check out the pictures here!) and I can confirm firsthand that these two have something special. And so, we sat down at Hotel Amour last Sunday to talk inter-continental love, cultural differences and post-marital sex.
Marina: So, this is actually something I don’t know. How did you and Karl meet?
Aimee: I met Karl in 2007 or 2008. I was living in New York and working at an art gallery at the time. It was a random Wednesday night and I was having drinks at Union Pool in Brookyn with a coworker. I was at the bar ordering a drink, when I looked down and saw a pair of Converse sneakers with some weird drawing on them. I liked them, so I said to whomever was standing next to me “Nice shoes”. It could have been anyone really, but it was Karl. We chatted for about ten minutes, then his co-workers were leaving, so we said bye. He left, then came back ten minutes later. Apparently, he was walking away and thought “Why am I leaving when this super cute girl is talking to me?” So we chatted some more and we danced, and then he took my number. He texted me the next day and invited me to see a movie in Union Square, except it turned out that no movies were playing – he hadn’t even looked it up, he had just wanted to get me there. So we walked to 2nd and 19th and we saw Cloverfield and then we went to L’Express and sat there until 3am drinking tea and talking about music and art. Then I told him that he could come back to my house, but that I wasn’t going to sleep with him.
Marina: Did you?
Aimee: Yeah, I did, but the next day, or maybe the day after. We had a really good connection. We kept on seeing each other and had a lot of really fun adventures in the city, danced a lot, went to Upstairs and bowling in Brooklyn. He was only in town for a few more weeks and had to go back to Sweden. I was really sad when he left, I even cried! But then that summer I was in Berlin and in Paris, and he invited me to come visit him in Stockholm. So I went for four days and stayed with him. It was nice in the beginning, I even remember at some point him saying “if were not married by 30, let’s just marry each other”. But then things got kind of weird. It turns out that he was going through some personal stuff that he wouldn’t tell me about at the time. Anyway, he kind of gave me a weird vibe and I left thinking “nothing is going to happen there, but at least I made a friend”. And so, we stayed in touch and became pretty good friends. Sometimes we would talk a few times a week, sometimes once every 8 months, always sharing music and projects with each other. We would never talk about other girls or guys though.
MK: And then you got engaged.
AB: Yes, then I got engaged, which was kind of a disaster. He was a really good guy, but we were completely wrong for each other. Karl saw on Facebook that I had a fiancé and he told me later that he got really sad. Actually, I saw on Facebook that he had a girlfriend, and he never had a girlfriend, so I got kind of sad as well! But then him and his girlfriend broke up, and we started chatting again. We never really addressed the fact that I had a fiancé… Then it was Valentines Day 2012, and he randomly asked me if I was celebrating. I told him that my fiancé and I weren’t doing that well, so we probably weren’t doing anything. He later told me that at that moment, about seventeen light bulbs went off in his head. We started talking more and more, innocently, just as friends. Then when my ex and I broke up. I was in Europe covering the shows for Harpers Bazaar, and Karl took a couple of days off work and came to Paris to see me. He booked a hotel in Saint-Germain next to where I was staying. It was this really weird Jamaican-theme hotel where the doorman would lock the door at night and you had to bang on the door to get back in..
Marina: You guys should go back.
Aimee: We should, for our first wedding anniversary. We actually came to dinner here, at Hotel Amour, on the first night he came to Paris. I remember we were sitting right there, and we had just ordered our steaks, and I just asked him “Why haven’t you kissed me yet?” I’m a very straight shooter, and he loved that. He was like “Honestly, I have been thinking about kissing you all day, but I didnt know if I was allowed to”.”
Marina: Did he then?
Aimee: Did he? I don’t even remember. But it just set the tone that we can be very straightforward with each other. That’s how we are in our relationship, to this day – no speculation, straight and to the point. That night we slept together and I stayed with him for the rest of the trip. We walked around Paris, saw the Gerhard Richter exposition at Centre Pompidou, went to Invalides… It was just so easy and natural. I had gotten to know this guy over so many years, and suddenly it was just so easy. The only doubt in my mind was that I had just ended something, and so I wasn’t sure if I should be jumping into another relationship right away. But I was feeling very empowered and independent at that time. So then I went back to the States, and Karl and I were talking, and we both at a point where we had known each other for so many years, and its either we were going to just be friends, or we were actually going to take a chance and do it. It was “either we do it now, or we never do it”.
Marina: I remember we had lunch at The Smile in NYC that Spring, and you were like “I’m thinking of moving to Sweden”. I thought you were crazy!
Aimee: Yup, I decided to move to Sweden after just 4 days of seeing him. Luckily, I was a writer, so it didn’t really matter where I lived. But then I moved, and it was just so easy! We just fit perfectly, our personalities were so in sync. I could only stay for 3 months, which was like a test because then I had to apply for a residence permit. Then I extended for another 1.5 months, and about 4.5 months into it we were planning our life together.
Marina: How did he propose?
Aimee: He basically proposed a week before we got married. We knew we wanted to get married in America, so when we were in Florida for Thanksgiving in 2013, we decided to start looking at places. We liked the first place we saw, and we booked it. I wanted to use the stone from my grandmother’s ring, so he bought the other two stones and designed the ring. Once the ring was ready, I just started wearing it. He really wanted to officially propose to me, but I kept on ruining it for a year – he would plan all these romantic scenarios and then I would open my big mouth and ruin it. So then, a week before the wedding, we went on a walk in my parents’ neighborhood in Florida. We were walking past this lake, when he got down on one knee and proposed. I was kind of mortified – I kept on telling him to get up! But it was so nice, because he’s just the kind of guy who cares. He’s the best guy – no, the best human being – I have met in my life. He’s sweet and sensitive, but he’s also a man and has balls. I feel like its rare to find that balance. For me, its perfect.
Marina: I love what you told me yesterday about him always surprising you with the things he says..
Aimee: Oh my god, he’s a spicy one! He’s so funny and quick… Sometimes things come of his mouth and I’m like “I can’t believe you just said that!”
Marina: Personality is important. I struggle with that. I feel like I often date men with no personality, as if I have enough for both of us. But at the end of the day, there needs to be a balance.
Aimee: Definitely. I have the bigger, more extroverted personality. I can be tactless, and I’m always so inappropriate with these Swedish people, asking them what kind of porn they watch and stuff.. I’ll worry that I’m embarrassing Karl, but then he’s like “I love you, you’re so cool. This is what I love about you.” He lets me be me and loves me for it. He definitely takes the backseat when we’re in groups, but sometimes when it’s the two of us he won’t stop talking.
Marina: Speaking of Swedish people, are there a lot of cultural differences?
Aimee: Oh my God, the holiday foods! I die every time they break out the fish and cream sauce and the seafood cake – it’s everything I hate disguised as a cake! Also, Karl is more more reserved. If the service is bad and it’s taking 40 minutes for them to give us a menu, really pushing the typical European behavior, I’m fuming. Meanwhile, he’s so chill, which, of course, enrages me even more. I’m so Jewish- this is all food related!
Marina: And you don’t mind that he’s not Jewish?
Aimee: No. He’s not religious, has no religion, just celebrates Christmas culturally. And he loves Jewish stuff, goes to Temple with my dad, sings out loud with the transliteration, fasts on Yom Kippur and keeps Passover, is ready to raise our kids Jewish.. Plus he’s neurotic, so he’s basically an honorary tribesman. He even uses “Schlep”, even though no one in Sweden knows what it means.
Marina: Here’s an unkosher question. How’s sex after marriage?
Aimee: It is so good and liberating! It’s the best. You know you have all the time of the world to have sex with this person, so you don’t have to show everything at once. People always say that the sex gets boring after years of marriage, but its their own fault. Yeah you fall into a pattern sometimes, but then you have to change it up, explore..
Marina: Its like traveling the whole world together.
Aimee: Exactly. You have your whole life! Just the other night… (Launches into a very kinky story that I am prohibited from disclosing the next morning.)
Marina: Any advice for us single people?
Aimee: Everybody always says “when you know, you know” and its such a cliché, but when you know, you know. When you need to work really hard on a relationship for the first few years, its probably not worth the effort. I mean, I moved to another country and, while the logistics were annoying, it wasn’t even hard – it just felt fun. It should be easy and fun and lift you up… It should be the decision you think about the least.