Brooklyn Heights strolls. Photo by Caroline Owens.
How often do you come across a couple that met in kindergarten? If you live in New York City, the probability of encountering such endangered human species is about as low as, say, meeting a single 30-something-year-old male sans commitment issues. (Yes, I’m always projecting.) This is why when I had the luck of meeting Rachel Jo Silver and Justin Boelio, two Michigan natives who first laid eyes on one another in Miss Ruben’s kindergarten class in the late 80’s, I decided to do humanity a favor by documenting their unique union on this paramount platform. (You’re welcome, social anthropologists everywhere.)
What’s even more striking than the longevity of Rachel and Justin’s relationship is the actual fabric of it, built on respect and patience and the kind of mutual trust that allowed them to embark upon their very own joint venture. In 2016, the Brooklyn Heights-based couple launched the wedding video platform Love Stories TV, which you should explore right after you are finished with this interview! (Disclaimer: even the most cynical folks may turn into mush.)
Oh, they may also have the most compatible body language that I have ever seen, but I don’t want to get creepy so I’ll stop there.
Love makes the world go round. I’m not sure if I first heard these words in Madonna’s ’80s ode to do-gooding, or if it simply one of those saccharine clichés that is culturally ingrained in our brains, but I never gave said phrase much thought. Then I got older and life got messier, and suddenly clichés became the ultimate crutch for rose-tinted philosophical rhetoric. No matter where we hail from or how much of a cluster*ck this world becomes, I prefer to believe that we are all bound by something larger than us, something that gives us purpose and drives us to tap into our better selves, something that ultimately keeps the orbit spinning: love.
While I can clearly write like a Hallmark copywriter, my own relationship with the High Holiday that is Valentine’s Day is about as complex as the US-Russia conflict – cold, impassive, potentially unresolvable. And yet, this year I decided to take the high road and use this day to celebrate the idea of love as a universal phenomenon. How? By cajoling every international couple I know into fessing up to their innermost secrets, of course.
Couples are filtered in ascending order according to years spent in each others’ vicinity. Questions vary mildly, double as an excellent Valentine’s Day torture test / drinking game. Enjoy!
Maria-Francisca Riaño (Pacha) and Robert Greenwood. Photo by Caroline Owens
Once upon a time on a hot summer night in Paris, I met a whimsical, beautiful girl named Pacha. She had a distinct Frida Kahlo vibe and immediately struck me as one of those smart, cool and genuinely kind people who don’t come around too often. We became fast friends and I attribute some of my best Parisian memories to our escapades (my crazy 28-Shades-of-Gray-themed birthday party included!) Pacha soon left us to pursue her passion for all things activism in New York City. By the time I moved back to New York a few months later, I found her living in Brooklyn, head-over-heels in love with a fellow artist named Robert. It’s great to see your friend in love, but it’s even better to see her in love with somebody who looks at her like she is the most amazing person in the world, which is how Robert looks at Pacha. A few months later, Pacha called me to invite me to their wedding. I barely blinked an eye – some things, no matter how crazy, just seem right.
In a city full of people who pretend to be artists and activists, Pacha and Robert are different, because you know that they are not faking it. These are two people who are truly are committed to making the world a better and more beautiful place. A few weeks ago, my creative partner Caroline and I went to Brooklyn and spent a day with Pacha and Robert and to learn about their modern-day Williamsburg fairytale, which we now bring to you.
Ajiri and Thomas at their Nigerian wedding ceremony, October 2011
As most of you know, Dbag Dating is far from a Mommy Blog. While I’m sure the occasional mother lands on this URL in pursuit of some fun-tertainment á la “This is what I don’t miss”, the majority of us here are still figuring life out. That said, ever so often, I will meet a woman who appears to have attained that covetable personal and professional tandem, evoking a spark of curiosity within me: How does she do it? Was it always this way? What can I – and you guys, consecutively – learn from her? One such woman happens to be my dear friend Ajiri Aki, a Parisian expat who’s list of accomplishments is endless: Wife, mother, author of bestselling coffee table book “Where’s Karl”, and creator of the Parisian expat’s guide to mommyhood, Manna Paris, just to name a few! Annoyed with her mere existence? I would be too, if it wasn’t for the fact that she is also an exceptionally cool human being. During my last trip to Paris, Ajiri took a few hours out of her crazy schedule to sit down over a bottle of wine and share her personal trajectory, touching on everything, from former Dbag flames, to the experience of meeting her husband, Thomas, to the challenges of expat motherhood, for our latest all-girl edition of Sunday Kind of Love!
Photo by Kat Irlin (@kat_in_nyc)
When a partner in relationship inadequacy falls romantically, irreproachably in love, your initial reaction is to feel slightly betrayed. But then, sometimes, all it takes is to meet the object of their affection to get over it. My friend Isaac Hindin Miller, blogger behind Isaac Likes, recently found the perfect yin to his dysfunctional yang in longtime friend, model Jenny Albright. These kids are young, smart, mildly photogenic, and currently killing it as part of DJ duo Isaac Likes Jenny. Intrigued, I strapped them down at La Colombe and demanded some insight on what goes on behind those annoyingly perfect Instagram photos!
Jeremy and Rachel Schinazi
It was August 2008 and I was away in Russia, when I received a phone call from my best friend, Rachel. “I met a guy. He’s French, and he’s crazy”, she informed me, sending me a link to his Facebook page. Skimming through the profile of a cute Frenchie named Jeremy Schinazi, we giggled at his jewfro and blue plastic sunglasses he was so fond of at the time. Little did we know that this goofy French boy would soon go on to play a pivotal role in her life, becoming her best friend, closest confidant, and later on, her husband and the father of their beautiful baby girl, Leni Natalie. Seven years later, I am honored to call him one of my dearest friends, as well as his own special title of Husband-in-Law. They both live in Paris, where Jeremy runs marketing agency Twin Panda Group and Rachel raises Leni, documenting said métier via a mommy blog La Yummy Mummy. The other day, we sat down to discuss their fateful meeting in NYC’s Meatpacking District, the formative first years of their relationship, new parenthood, and my hopeless love life. Read on!