In June 2011 I said yes when Bree cajoled me into coming to the Twin Cities Improv Fest afterparty, like we were the cool kids, not superfan creepers. And not just yes, but “Yes, and,” tee-hee—I will co-opt the classic improv tenet and extend shared intention, build upon bravery, keep this scene going wherever it takes me.
We were the only non-improvisers there. I shun hero worship, or so I like to think, but I still walk around like the fourth wall’s still in front of me. Not so big on small talk, a deflection for affliction socially awkward aren’t we all, telling ourselves we’re extra special weirdoes, even when we crow about how awesome we are.
I said yes to libations, no more than the uszh, and commune with the stereo to further loosen limbs and tell stories with my feet, light-step shimmies, glides and gangsta walk, I could moontalk my way through any conversation, but listen, don’t listen, just watch.
I met him in the kitchen.
We talked about The Knife.
And that’s it, really, besides being glad to be a bit lit so I could get my words out at this handsome, handsome guy. As he took the stage earlier that night with his oddball, long lump of a dog, Bree whispered he’s been called the southern Michael Ritchie—inside baseball, sure, but trust that is reason to take instant notice. Plus, improv dog.
The next night at the theater, he turned in his seat in front of me.
“Hi. Do you remember…?”
“Arthur. From Austin.”
He asked if he could find me on Facebook.
I said yes.
Months pass. He seemed important—theater co-owner actor painter mover shaker—and I expected nothing of this weak tie just some guy over a thousand miles away with over a thousand friends, a social connector friend collector, and that’s fine.
Then we started chatting, through the day into the night. Picked each other’s brains and admired our minds. Offered threads from knotted selves to unravel, deep but mostly dumb, mostly good-natured fun, a sense of self and humor grounded in wonder.
Endless wordplay! Buttless jokes!
Full of being full instead of full of ourselves.
You know us so you know it’s disingenuous to say we don’t go dark or get down. I don’t think I’ll ever beat the shadow sides of irony, the bent parts pretty sure I’m bound to get screwed. But I’ve long outgrown seeking it, wearing cynicism like a badge, a lens I’d ever choose for people to see me through, a prism to scatter my light.
We begin going on movie dates—in separate cities but at the same time—alone in dark theaters together, the empty seat beside us filled with the presence of laughter, silliness, the other.
He asked me to camp with him in Texas.
I said yes.
In retrospect, what the hell was I thinking? he drives a murdervan, could cut my heart out and roast it. But that’s just hyperbole. I didn’t have a heart. Nothing I could be worried about, or bothered with—love was too much trouble.
We made magic atop Enchanted Rock, with heat and wind and hush.
Over the next year, more adventures followed.
The distance, his absence, was eerie. It didn’t actually feel like he wasn’t actually with me, always a text, a ridiculous pun away, a phone call, video chat, thought or prayer.
For a year I floated and glowed, a hummingbird beneath my ribs.
Applying to the Austin Public Library wasn’t a lark, but I didn’t expect an interview. Not because I’m not awesome (ARRRH arrrwor ARRRH arrrh ARRRWORRR!), but the academic to public library leap is uncommon, oft thought a ruse—a foot in the door of a city and not a library system, a set of values or the profession. Plus, I lived hundreds of miles away and Austin has an iSchool—plenty of fresh candidates close to home without all the hassle and delay.
After a six-month hiring process, I said yes to an offer at last, bid adieu to Minneapolis and moved to Texas.
I had a place on my own a few months before making a home with Arthur and his dogs. I’d never lived with dogs before. Mudcat is the sweetest girl, a maniac and darling. Robin is like having another roommate, or boyfriend, a whole human being in his weird little body. He communicates in every way but speech.
Before I knew Robin, I used to joke he was Arthur’s horcrux, but now it’s Robin’s soul that fascinates me, his withering gaze, puppyboy tail wags, harUMPHS and everything.
I love our family so much.
…and quieter things, too. Meals and walks and movie nights with real cuddling, though I’ll occasionally cite a film that I swear we saw together, well we did, well not really, but we did.
We took the time to breach the distance, the risk to ruin everything, fun vacation courtship without conflict or reality, but I wasn’t naïve or maybe I was, just enough, or in a gambling mood ’cause I was already happy.
I had only time and distance to lose.
Both our hearts to gain.
Christmas Day Arthur Simone asked for my hand.