I invented an imaginary television series called “Couch Talks.”
Previously, when we lived on the Upper West Side, it was called “Bench Talks.” Jimmy and I would wake up, throw on some sweat pants, and walk over to Andy’s Deli on West 81st Street and Columbus Ave. We’d grab our egg sandwiches and coffee and cross the street to the park outside the Natural History Museum. We’d choose a bench and we’d sit there and eat.
And then, we’d talk. We’re both intense people, so our conversations don’t take long to get far beyond superficial comments about the weather. We’d talk about the meaning of life, our goals, our dreams, the cosmos, God, spirituality, practicing the work, our future, our struggles. We’d discuss our principles and values, and how we could better apply them to what we were facing in our lives. We’d b keep talking until the conversation would ultimately reach a natural end. Sometimes the talks were long — an hour or more — sometimes they were only fifteen minutes. When we’d get to that natural pause in the conversation that marked the end, I’d say: “And that concludes this episode of ‘Bench Talks,’ with Kyla and Jimmy.”
It became a running joke (I’m a quirky soul so we have a lot of running jokes like this — mostly developed by me, but Jimmy is happy to play along).
“Bench Talks” became “Couch Talks” when we moved to Astoria and the weather turned cold.
But, at first, our talks stopped all together. Jimmy would wake up to go to work out on Long Island at 5:30am every day. I’d be lucky to see him long enough to hug him before he left.
But then his working situation changed, and suddenly we have mornings together again. I get up before him to hit the gym, shower, etc. By the time he’s getting up, I’m making coffee. We end up meeting on the couch for about half an hour — I’m drinking my coffee and running through what I’ve got to do for the day, he’s eating his breakfast and reading his daily meditation books (from AA — but trust me, they’re great for anyone because they’re daily reminders of how to BE… and why).
Sometimes his daily meditation is what starts off our talk. Sometimes it’s something I’m struggling with that I try to work through aloud with him. When it was football season, it would even sometimes be something one of the anchors on SportsCenter said about a certain athlete.
Whatever it is, we start talking, and it doesn’t take long for it to get deep. Then, as before, we reach a natural stopping point, at which point I now say: “And that concludes this episode of ‘Couch Talks,’ with Kyla and Jimmy.”
This morning I was distracted by things I had to do on the computer, but remembered that when we don’t get that special time to connect, it affects my entire day and how close I feel to him throughout the day. So I abruptly left the computer and cuddled up next to him on the couch, this time not really saying anything. We started talking before long, though, but when the conversation stopped, he randomly started squirming.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“My male ego is trying to stop me from saying something,” he said.
I of course instantly got curious. “Oh yeah? What’s it trying to stop you from saying?”
“That I really love these mornings together with you.”
I smiled and felt warm all over. “Me too,” I said.
So I’m dedicating Connection Day 7 to “Couch Talks.” I’m not supposed to write about being connected to Jimmy, because that’s a given, but, it isn’t always. Our first year of marriage has had its ups and downs, and in several moments we’ve allowed ourselves to be thrown off. “Couch Talks” anchors us back to the why of our relationship — the great support we give each other, our mutual dreams and goals, our future, and our simple enjoyment in merely being with each other.
It also oddly supports me in being open to connection with others. Today, for example, I’ll go straight from work to band practice. I won’t get home until 11pm. But, because we had our “Couch Talk” this morning, I don’t feel disconnected from Jimmy at all. I’m free to connect with others without feeling like I’m cheating him or us somehow.
But just to not run afoul of my goal as I declared it, the other connection I want to reflect upon happened yesterday, with my boss. It was good to have the conversation we had about my getting a percentage of the legal fees for any clients I bring in. Not just because of the result, which I wanted, but because of the connection I experienced during the conversation. As a growing firm, we must work on creating team, and in that moment I really fully experienced the possibility of that — how attainable it is, and how much of a difference it would make for all of us if we could pull it off.
This points to an overall important shift for me with regard to my job, as I’ve gotten in a deeply ingrained pattern of being closed off from connection at work. Work, for me, for the last 3-4 years, has been about isolation, protection, and disconnection. “Just get through it,” until you can go home. “Just get through” the week, until the weekend comes around. Shifting to investing instead, connecting here instead, creating new possibilities here instead — is a huge shift. It positions me to be the leader here that I can easily envision myself being.
“But, what happens if I’m not even sure how long I plan to stay?” I asked Jimmy during our Couch Talk this morning when this topic came up.
“It doesn’t matter. With who we are, the goal is to leave every place we go better than how we found it. It’s cliché, but, it’s the right thing to do.”
…and that concluded yet another episode of “Couch Talks” with Kyla and Jimmy.