Real Couples – Janine Vesper and Kendra Curry
When and how’d you meet?
Janine: We first met in 1996? We worked for the same company and Kendra was on vacation with friends in Honolulu, where I worked. I was asked by a mutual co-worker to meet them for dinner. The whole group was great, but looking back, I feel like Kendra and I bonded in a different way, you know that energy. I think I thought I was just having a girl crush on a straight woman at the time. Fast forward to 1998, our paths crossed again through work in the MN and WI. We started dating, moved in together (in the stereo-typical lesbian tradition) We were married in in 2015.
Kendra: In 1996?…when my boss learned I was going to Hawaii for vacation with friends she told me I had to meet Janine. She was an incredible leader and fun person running a store and living on the island and I should let her know we were coming. Janine ended up hanging with us most anytime she wasn’t working. I can’t remember a vacation with more laughter, activities, and excitement! Several years later she ended up being my district manager and within about a year I worked up the courage to tell her I had feelings for her…and luckily, she acknowledged the same. I relatively quickly found a new company and role and moved to the Twin Cities…and we’ve been together since.
What do you love most about your partner?
Janine: The initial attraction was her bright energy and “anything is possible” way about her. Over the years, that still rings true, but through our evolution as a couple, I love what I have learned of the complexities in her nature. All dimensions, some of which are not all “bright and shiny,” that it took me time to understand and value. And love that she willing shares all of that with me.
Kendra: I love that Janine has an incredible sense of humor, a loud laugh, a lightheartedness, as well as a drive to do good things at home, work, and through volunteering in our communities. And she is so caring and fierce in caretaker roles, most recently for her mom through strokes and dementia, and prior to that with me through cancer.
What’s one quirk you’ve had to get used to?
Janine: We have VERY different purchasing habits. She loves, NEEDS, to research, contemplate, have choices on everything (big and small), so I have learned to be patient and let her process work through. In the beginning this would frustrate me…God, the time it would take to decide! But now I understand how it is going to happen and plan appropriately. I now ASK her to do the research! ?
Kendra: She said in our wedding vows she would turn off lights when she leaves a room, let’s just say she’s still working on that.
How would you describe your dynamic/energy?
Janine: We both like to have Fun. That was an attraction from the start, but of course, as time goes on, life happens. As a couple we have been through career changes, illness, death, family caregiving, and more. I feel as if, through all that, we share an underlying optimism, seeing comedy, finding a reason to laugh, just simply going to bed in hopes of a better day. And if one of us loses that optimism, the other is there to lift up and hold on until the other can regain their footing.
Kendra: Balanced. Not necessarily the ying to the yang, there’s plenty of that indeed, but it’s likely more often we’re grooving to the same beat in our decisions in a day, week, or month. And there’s plenty of energy in the things we choose to do especially when interacting with friends, neighbors, and family. I think in term of options and prefer the road less traveled, she’s two or more steps ahead in a decision and often prefers the most direct route. So, figuring out if there’s a She, Me, or We priority is a tool that comes in handy for us.
What’s one thing you’re looking forward to, together?
Janine: This is a good question. I am going to take a short- term approach. At the beginning of Covid we made the decision to remodel our home (we have spent 20 years talking and thinking about it-see question 2 ) Anyway, for me, I am looking forward to enjoying our home for ourselves, our cat, family, friends. As I am writing this, though, maybe it is longer term; you see, when we bought the house in 2002, we both had this dream of growing older, enjoying our summers outside, and putzing in the yard in our khakis, denim shirts, and sun hats. We are not quite there yet, but I am optimistic.
Kendra: Since early on in our relationship we discussed picturing ourselves in khaki pants, denim shirts, and gardening hats, gloves, and boots taking care of the yard. I still look forward to that, just growing older together in life. Taking walks, traveling with or to see friends, taking care of our home, neighborhood, and volunteering in our community.