Together in San Francisco

Mark Pressler, 58, works as a human resources manager for The Gap. Robert Tannenbaum, 49, works as a network designer for UC San Francisco. They live in the Mission District neighborhood of San Francisco with their Maine coon kitten, Harry. They have been living together for three years and have been married for two.

FORWARD: How did you meet and come to live together?

MARK: We met at the birthday party of a mutual friend. We were down in the garden on a sunny day, and I thought Robert was handsome, so I went over to talk, and found out that he was Jewish and rode a motorcycle, two prerequisites for me. Well, there’s a first date at least, I thought.

ROBERT: We were living separately and began talking of moving in together. Mark looked at me and said: “I won’t just live with someone again, I have done that. I want to get married, like my parents; combine everything.“ I was taken aback a little, but thought about it and came back and proposed to Mark, as that was want I wanted as well.

How did you find your home?

MARK: Robert bought the home about 10 years ago. We looked for a new place together, but the housing market in San Francisco is pretty bad, so we are staying put for a while, without the extra bedroom.

Who takes out the garbage?

MARK: Robert takes out the garbage. Since I’m a messy cook, there is a lot of garbage toting.

How are household chores divided among you?

MARK: Robert is in charge of the finances, and I do all the cooking. We have a bi-weekly housecleaner, so neither has to do the heavy work.

Who makes breakfast?

MARK: I do all the cooking. My lox and eggs with cream cheese and dill are amazing, soft-cooked and custardy.

Describe your typical week.

MARK: We both get up early for work each day, about 6 a.m. Robert works a lot of overtime and gets home usually about 5 p.m. I get home earlier. Robert goes to the gym, and I cook dinner. I do light exercise in the home. We almost always eat dinner together, and almost always homemade. I attend a lot of meetings in the evenings as I’m the vice president of our shul and [do] other community work.

What’s the most unusual thing we’d see on your household budget?

MARK: Not so unusual, but we go to a lot of plays and concerts.

What do you love the most about the space you live in?

MARK: It’s a large one-bedroom with high ceilings. We look out onto a large tree-filled courtyard, and for living in the noisy Mission District, it’s very quiet. And of course, our Maine coon kitty, Harry.

What’s the one story that gets told and retold in your home?

MARK: It would have to be how we met, and that I was so excited when I found out about the Jewish and the motorcycle.

ROBERT: Also about how when we met. I was unsure of this tall, goofy quirky guy who was so different from all my past relationships. And that I learned to love the quirk very quickly.

Do you have children? If so, who is/was first to get up for a crying child?

MARK: Well, we have no children, but since Robert gets up first in the morning, he feeds Harry, the cat, and brings my coffee to me in bed.

What would you serve at your ideal Sunday brunch?

MARK: Challah French toast with blueberries, lox and eggs with cream cheese mixed in for richness, Peet’s Coffee and homemade breads and jams.

Do you have an ideal Sabbath dinner?

MARK: Every Shabbat, our friend Larry comes over for Chinese food and then we walk to shul. Traditional and delightful.

Who’s your favorite Jewish comedian?

MARK: Hands-down, Amy Schumer. She isn’t afraid of anything.

What is your favorite room in your home?

MARK: The kitchen. I am the most relaxed when cooking.

ROBERT: The living room. Spacious and filled with light.

What is your favorite piece of art or photograph in your home?

MARK: The watercolor my grandfather painted of Chinatown.

ROBERT: My vintage poster of Mildred Pierce.

What is your happiest or saddest memory in your home?

ROBERT: The day Mark moved in. I had never lived with someone, but knew I was in for a long and happy journey.

MARK: The night we got back from our wedding and I knew we were husbands forever.

Describe your home life in three words.

MARK: Fun, fulfilling, comfortable.

If you could change one thing about where you live, what would it be?

ROBERT: An extra bedroom or office!

MARK: A place to BBQ. In San Francisco it’s forbidden in multi-unit dwellings.

If you could change one thing about your Jewish practice, what would it be?

MARK: It’s great the way it is. I’m the spiritual Jew, and Robert is the cultural Jew, and it works out beautifully.

Is there an active Jewish community near you?

MARK: Yes, we live a block from the shul Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, and it is our community. The Jewish community in San Francisco is not as out in the open, so we have to seek it out. We belong to the Jewish Contemporary Museum and get together with friends for Havdalah.

What’s one thing you do that defines your Jewish identity?

MARK: A deep, abiding love of Israel; being Zionists.

Does being Jewish distinguish you from others around you? If so, how?

ROBERT: We are active in synagogue life; Mark is on the board of the shul and very active in the Mussar [ethical spirituality] community.

What one moment stands out in your mind when you felt most connected to Judaism?

MARK: Our wedding day. Being in our shul, with our dear rabbi Camille Angel and the eyes of God. It was magical.

If you would like to participate or nominate a household please contact HomeLands editor Maia Efrem at Efrem@forward.com.

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