Having a hobby with your partner

A couple of years ago at a wedding, my husband and I sat in on a conversation about all of the things the other couples at our tables liked to do with their partners — go climbing, travel to the same place each summer, visit all the new ramen restaurants in the city, play Fantasy Football, or even volunteer together.

After this conversation (and a couple of glasses of wine), we looked at each other in horror: Did we have a thing? Sure, we thought. We enjoy a good dinner night out, or a post-show drink after the theaters let out on Broadway. But…did we actually have a hobby?

In a panic, we opened up a blank iPhone note and started a list: Our Hobbies.

“Play tennis!” I shouted. “Write that down!”

“Ummm…we don’t do that. Do you know how to play tennis? ’Cause I don’t.”

“Well, no,” I admitted. “But wouldn’t it be a cool thing if we did do it together? We’d get a great workout, play a game together — and bonus: the tennis outfits are super cute.”

Jason gave me the look he gives me when he knows it’s an idea that’ll stick about 10 minutes before I move onto something else. But he wrote it down anyway.

“What else?” he asked.

“Ooh, how about photography? I’ve been meaning to spend more time with my camera.” (That one lasted about 6 months.)

Another couple sat down with us at the wedding reception and asked what we were working on.

“We’re making a list of hobbies we can do as a couple,” said Jason. “What’s yours?”

Like every other couple we asked, they had one ready right away. “Oh. We like to watch and debunk Scientology documentaries together. Have you ever seen those? They are CRAZY.”

We hadn’t, but we added it to our list. We still haven’t watched it.

Suffice it to say that we don’t have any one thing. But it’s possible that our couple hobby is simply, trying “new” things. For instance, right now, we’re attending Art Basel and Art Week in Miami. Are we art collectors? I mean…I own like three original works and a few locally created crafts from interesting places. Are we connoisseurs? Ehhhh. While I frequent galleries in many cities when I travel, I’m still better at picking out a good bottle of red wine than picking out a future famous artist from a show.

But the process of exploration, discovery, and breaking the routine is fun for us. And we found a way to make it work for us: We turned it into a game. A competition, to be exact: The Art Basel Scavenger Hunt. Our first night traveling, we brainstormed a crazy list of categories of things we wanted to be on the lookout for during our trip. With each category, the plan was to each snap photos of art, places, or people that fit the bill, then adding a little color commentary. Then at the end of the weekend, we’ll tally it all up to see who won each category.

So, the night before our arrival, we spent the evening at our hotel concocting a basic form field on Airtable that we could use to each share submissions. And on day one (today), we each beta tested our submissions based on our respective time at the fair. (You can also follow along here in our view-only form.) Last but not least, we decided to have a little extra fun and open source the form that we’re using and Tweet it out a bunch — just in case anyone else wanted to join along in the game.

Me and Jason at Art Basel earlier today

Long story short, this is basically just a grown-up game for the two of us to enjoy. But for us, the small, controlled process of discovery, creation, building, and mild competition is enough to both give us energy and bring us closer together.

It may not be as cute as matching outfits as tennis doubles partner, but I’ll take it as far as hobbies go.

(And by the way, we’re serious about other people playing along. If you’re at Art Basel and want to nominate something funny, submit your pic here: https://airtable.com/shr577GWk15VmlJ3e)

GM @USV, alum of @StackOverflow and @NorthwesternU, board member at @CompSci_High and @NUalumni, co-founder of #BeyondCodingNYC

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