Day 19 of Love

I met Vernard and Bradley around the corner from the Producer’s Club, during my 15 minute break between warm up and last night’s improv show. As I was choosing a spot (in front of Chipotle on 9th and 44th), these two guys walked by. Full of joy and clear affection for each other, I stopped them and asked if they would take part in my 30 days of Love.

Both Dancers and Choreographers, they met at Alvin Ailey. ©Katarina Kojic

Name: Vernard / Bradley
Age: 36 / 32
Profession: Dancer slash Choreographer / Dancer slash Choreographer
Nationality / Origin: Native African American (Grandfather was Cherokee) / South African -Greek, Dutch and British

Relationship to each other: Very close friends and getting closer
How / where did you meet: At Alvin Ailey when I (Vernard) hit on him. And I (Bradley) let him.
When did you meet: 1998
How long have you been together: Since then
What is your favorite thing about Bradley: Wonderful spirit, always joyful and optimistic
What is your favorite thing about your Vernard: His Smile. Actually just everything.
I really love it when… Bradley smiles
I really love it when… Vernard holds my hand.
Why is Bradley important to you: It’s very rare you find good people and he’s just a good person.
Why is Vernard important to you: He keeps me balanced.
What does love mean to you Vernard? Love is… Love.
What does love mean to you Bradley? Love is… Everything.


Day 18 of Love

Love of Travel

Many years ago, Nina and Darryl went on a trip around the world, on a shoe string budget. Around the world for $4000. About 3 months into the trip, they were in a rickshaw in front of the Taj Mahal, and with the moonlight shining down, Darryl asked Nina to marry him. She said yes.

I asked if he had planned it before the trip. Nope. “Yeah right,” says Nina. After spending so much time together, day and night for months and months, and still wanting to be around each other… well he knew he had found the right person.

Nina asked if he wanted to tell what happened the next morning. “No,” replied Darryl. The next morning, he offered that they didn’t have to tell anyone yet, in case by the end of the trip, they changed their minds. Seems he was a little rattled by his spontaneous question.

They obviously didn’t change their minds and after 37 years, you can see they still adore each other.

Darryl and Nina tell me the story of the morning after their engagement. ©Katarina Kojic

Name: Darryl / Nina
Age: 70 / 67
Profession: Retired High School Social Studies Teacher / Retired School District Librarian (aka. Media Specialist)
Nationality / Origin: Born in Delaware -Mother German, Dad Polish / Italian born in NYC

Relationship to each other: Husband and Wife
How / where did you meet: Working in the same school district
When did you meet: 1969
How long have you been together: Married for 37 years.
What is your favorite thing about Nina: She is good at everything she attempts and is full of surprises
What is your favorite thing about your Darryl: He’s a WONDERFUL father. (and as a husband) He loves me despite all of my faults.
I really love it when… she stands up for herself, (which is frequently)- She does not suffer fools lightly.
I really love it when… he tries to tell a joke.
Why is Nina important to you: She is like my guiding star. She’s very supportive and has total faith in me, I think.
Why is Darryl important to you: Because he’s my soul.
What does love mean to you Darryl? Love is… Pain upon separation.
What does love mean to you Nina? Love is… Having no bounds. Unconditional love.


Day 17 of Love

Sitting on in the park near the courthouse in lower Manhattan. ©Katarina Kojic

Name: Sabir
Profession: Garment / Textile Importer and former cigarette and soap model.
Nationality / Origin: Indian

Are you in a relationship? Yes I have a wife.
How did you meet her? At a party, my friend took me to a party. She was starting med school. After seeing her for 7-8 years, with the permission of our parents, we got married in 1987.

Let’s go back to the party when you met her, the first time that you saw her. Do you remember what she was wearing? “Yes she was wearing an Indian dress in light green color. And that light green color is very favorite to me. She was beautiful when I saw her. Right now she’s not that… But at that time she was most beautiful woman.”

So what was your first date? Did you have a first date? “No we don’t do dates, we don’t do that in India, you know that. We always met thru somebody, in somebody’s house in a party or something like that. And after 6- 7 years, we get close, close, close and then I wrote my parents, that I have a girl, been seeing a girl. And she also wrote her parents. Then I go and met her father, mother and after that both the parents met together and said ok.”

What is your favorite thing about her: She’s a very care-taking person. For me, my kids, my daughter, my son, she always take care of everybody. And one more thing. She’s an extraordinary clean lady.

I really love it when… she smiles.
Why is she important to you? Because she’s my second half. In Indian culture we have a different concept. Once we get married. Our life divided in two parts. One part is wife. One part is husband. Same for her also. We both share half of our soul, half of our body together. We never ever think about getting divorced or anything like that in our life. Different culture. You must know about India. In my case at least I saw my wife and dated her for 7-6 years. All my brothers and sisters they never even saw their wife before they got married. And you know the divorce ratio in India is .001. Not even 1 percent. 100 times not even 1 person. That’s the way we grow up.

What does love mean to you? Love is… How can I explain love. In my opinion, love is everything but soul. Everything is love except the soul. (Can you explain more?) In your real life, everybody, whether me or somebody else, only love one person in their whole life. THe other all you can say, you can name anything, but you have anybody have only attraction, affection, great richness, everything is just for one person, that is called love. My opinion right there. I don’t know about anybody else.

Day 16 of Love

Love of Adventure.

I spotted Shawn and his son Otto in Union Square. They were an adorable pair!

Otto was a little shy at first. ©Katarina Kojic

I asked who his favorite superhero was. Batman! Can you stand with your dad like Batman? Otto took this to heart and took off in his best imitation of a flying / running Batman thru the park. Sorry Shawn.

Otto how old are you? ©Katarina Kojic

Name: Shawn / Otto
Age: 46 / 3 1/2
Profession: Private Chef / Car racer
Nationality / Origin: Dutch & Italian / Dutch & Italian, mom is half Japanese.

Relationship to each other: Dad & Son
What is your favorite thing about Otto: Right now it’s his energy and excitement. Everyday is a new adventure. He’s a very social kid.
What is your favorite thing about your dad: We go on adventures
I really love it when… Otto grabs my hand and puts it on my chest.
I really love it when… (my Dad) fixes tvs.
Why is Otto important to you: He’s changed my life in more ways than I can count. He made me become a man.
Why is your dad important to you: Because he fixes things.
What does love mean to you Shawn? Love is…Family
What does love mean to you Otto? Love is…That you’re daddy.

Otto’s hand on his dad’s chest. ©Katarina Kojic


Day 15 of Love

I passed Greg reading on his front steps in Long Island City. He was born Jewish, then in ’81 the year he moved to NY, he converted to Islam with his brother-in-law and sister and then in ’91 he joined the Church of Christ in Long Island City. The church is mostly Filipino and considers itself the True Religion. We had a long conversation about religion, mainly I wanted to understand what he was getting out of one religion that he wasn’t getting out of another. What does it bring to his daily life. After quoting and siting many different biblical passages, my only real understanding of what it is for him, is that he believes his religion has more proof of being the true religion than the others.

Name: Greg
Age: 61
Profession: Presently unemployed. Formerly Porter / Doorman
Nationality / Origin: Grew up in Pittsburg, moved to NY in ’81- Grandfather Russian Jew, Mom’s parents Polish.

Are you in a relationship? Yes I’m married.
How/where did you meet? At Church. I’m no longer Jewish. I belong to the Church of Christ, just down the street. (In LIC) You have to marry within the church.
When did you meet? In 2000, we married in 2001
How long have you been together? 12 years
What is your favorite thing about her? She’s a very kind-hearted person.

I really love it when…”She cooks me breakfast. (Oh boy that doesn’t sound very good. We better watch Hope Springs Eternal.)” ©Katarina Kojic

Why is she important to you: She’s my wife, the focus of my life outside of God and Christ.
What does love mean to you? Love is… That’s kind of a cliché question isn’t it? Okay. Not being alone. Which I was for most of my life.


Day 14 of Love

Newlywed Love

Our friends, Heather & Steven, are newlyweds–they just got married a couple of months ago. My husband and I went up to their new house for the weekend to take photos of them and hang out. I couldn’t resist including them in the project with some photos from the weekend.

Smoochin’ in the Flea Market. ©Katarina Kojic

Name: Steven Duque / Heather Lapham Duque
Profession: CEO & Founder, Momba / Financial Monitoring Control Director, North America
Nationality / Origin. US citizen, from Houston, TX / US citizen from Ashby, MA

Relationship to each other: Husband & Wife
How / where did you meet? When did you meet? We met in October 2010 at a party at the Back Bay Hotel to celebrate the opening of the New American wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston. Heather had just moved to Boston a few months earlier from NYC. Steven had gone to school in Cambridge at Harvard and had returned to the city after touring with his band, Mount Auburn, cross-country. Heather went to the MFA party with a couple of friends from London who were visiting, and Steven went to the party to meet up with a friend of his before going on to another event elsewhere in the city. When Steven arrived, his friend was chatting with Heather and her friends.
(Heather: Steven made a huge impression on me that night. He was (and is) a star. He is the most attractive person I’ve ever met in my life. I just wanted to be around him.)
(Steven: Going to that party was one of the most fortuitous events of my life. Truth be told, my friend and I initially intended to go to another event at the same hotel, and happened upon the museum party. As soon I met Heather, it was game over. She was and is the most beautiful person I’ve ever met, inside and out.) 

How long have you been together? We’ve been together since 2010, so that’s coming up on 2 years. We knew that we were going to be together for the long run soon after we met.
What is your favorite thing about Steven? That is an impossible question for me – I don’t have one favorite thing about Steven. I love his energy, sweetness, sensitivity, enthusiasm for life, and integrity… just to name a few things that I love about Steven. Steven IS my favorite thing.
What is your favorite thing about Heather? Her heart. She’s one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met, and her compassion is made even more precious, in my view, by the fact that she’s physically the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. 

Heather & Steven took us to town to check out the local antiques & flea market. ©Katarina Kojic

I really love it when Steven…Dances with me. I’ll dance to anything just to dance with Steven.
I really love it when Heather… Holds me close to her. My heart absolutely melts when I’m close to her. 

Why is Steven important to you? Steven is my soul mate – he is my other half. It took a while for me to finally find him. We had to have a lot of love, faith, and courage, to choose the path we have taken. Our life together is the beginning of a beautiful lifetime journey. I hope that answers the question.
Why is Heather important to you? Because she is who she is and I am who I am. Our paths are inextricably intertwined and only complete when looked at together. 

What does love mean to you? Love is….
Heather: “To love is to be in communion with the other and to discover in the other the spark of God”. During our wedding ceremony, my father read an excerpt from “By the river Piedra I sat down and wept” by Paulo Coelho which included this. I think it is the truest thing I’ve ever read about love.

Steven: I think it’s incredibly difficult to articulate the substance of an ideal or value (especially one as divine as love), but I think I can explain my understanding of what it means to love, from my perspective. To love is to have the courage to believe that there is truth and goodness in the world, that these values supersede all others, and that the partner you’ve chosen is the person who inspires and empowers you to recognize this and continue your pursuit of the ideal. 

With some urging, we got Steven to play some of his songs for us, one he had written especially for Heather. Engin played along on guitar — It was a great night of music and friends! ©Katarina Kojic

Day 13 of Love

A court case

I met André at the scene of an accident on 9th st and Lafayette st. A biker got hit by a cab as he was riding against the red light. One cab screeched to a stop, missed him by centimeters and then a second cab careened into him clipped his back wheel and sent him into a tumble onto the cross walk in front of a crowd of people. Everyone moved into action. “Call 911” “get the cab driver’s license plate” “don’t let him leave” “don’t get up” “Don’t move! You could have a spinal injury.” While one guy was going at the driver, making sure he felt horrible and knew it was his fault, the cab driver was making sure everyone knew the biker was crossing on red and that he had a green light and it wasn’t his fault. André moved to the biker, put his hand on his abdomen and made sure he didn’t move. Another woman put her purse under the fallen biker’s hips to support his legs. The biker, only 20 and NOT wearing a helmet, didn’t have many visible injuries, other than the growing red scratches on his elbow. But you never know about internal injuries. He complained that his hip was hurting. André was on the phone with 911.

Soon the fire department came and strapped the kid onto the board. Then the ambulance came and wheeled him into the ambulance. His friend came to take his very colorful, cool looking and undamaged bike. The crowd dispersed and André and I were on the sidewalk with the cab driver who kept mentioning that he had the green light. He has a family, and I’m sure was freaked out by what happened and what could happen.

We asked the ambulance driver if he needed us to stay for a witness report. He said it was up to us, but we weren’t required or expected to stay. It always helps with the police report, but don’t feel like you have to stay. We decided to stay. André said his whole day had been a series of bad events and this was just one more.

I told him about “30 Days of Love” and asked if he would take part. Ironically, today he was taken to court by his ex-girlfriend. He told me a story of 7 months of love and fighting and tolerance and forgiveness and breaking points, being hit by his girlfriend– it has culminated into lawyers and court appointments. He was visibly upset and apologized for crying in front of me.

André is a bespoke designer. When it came to ask him questions about love, I focussed on his love for bespoke design.

Name: André
Age: 45
Profession: Bespoke Designer
Nationality / Origin: Haitian

When did you start: July 2008
What is your favorite thing about being a bespoke designer: Seeing someone’s face when they see something they ordered is well-fitted. When they walk out, even if it’s just a smirk- if they are ultra conservative and don’t want to show it. You can see in their face how they feel in the clothes.
Why is being a bespoke designer important to you: My mom and grandmother were seamstresses. It’s the only thing I know. It’s a family tradition coming from a Caribbean family–they want you to be a lawyer, an engineer, a doctor. I have a degree in Biology, but that’s as far as I went. I grew up in my mom’s shop. She never took me to a store. Until I was 15 everything I wore was tailored. And then I started shopping for myself and quickly realized I could make it myself.
Love is…Respect, Trust, Mutual understanding, compromising, it’s not one-sided, but mostly it’s respect. She almost broke it.
How has love changed you: I used to be a very impatient and intolerant person. I had a bad habit of not acknowledging the homeless. One day I passed a man and I heard him say, “I don’t need your money. I need your help. I have 4 kids….” I had just spent $20 on lunch and thought how fortunate I am. I ended up taking him to the grocery store and buying him some groceries. It’s not that I bought him the groceries, but that I stopped to listen. I saw that I had changed.

Andre’s reaction when I said how serious he looked. The first picture I took, he looked so serious. I learned later why. ©Katarina Kojic

On love: “She almost broke it.” ©Katarina Kojic

Check out his shop on FB, “André Michel Clothiers”. He is located in Tribeca.


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