Our story begins in the Fall of 2012. Marty was a junior at Hamilton College. Kina was a sophomore. Marty was the poetry editor of Red Weather, the campus literary magazine, and Kina was a poetry reader. At the first meeting of the year, Kina walked up to the desk where Marty was sitting and introduced herself; it was somewhat awkward, but endearing. She is cute, Marty thought.
Fast-forward a few months—though there were several amorous interactions in the interim (i.e., Marty and Kina awkwardly chatting after the Early American Literature class they had together, some romantic arm-touching when Kina talked to Marty after a show he played with his band, etc.), things didn’t really heat up until Saturday, January 21, 2012. It was the night of an animal costume party at Hamilton College. Kina was dressed as a butterfly. Marty wasn’t dressed as anything, because he wasn’t planning on going; instead, he was diligently working in the library, reading Ralph Waldo Emerson for the aforementioned Early American Literature class. Around 9pm, however—after some cajoling and peer-pressuring from his friend Andy—Marty resolved to live while he was young. He also had a strong suspicion that Kina would be at the costume party. Thus, given that he hadn’t had time to develop a costume, Marty came up with something really pathetic—he wore plaid pajama pants and a plaid shirt. He was, in fact, a “plaid-a-pus.” Of course, he endured some grief for this god-awful costume, but it was worth it to have a chance to talk to Kina. As anticipated, Kina and Marty were really excited to see each other at the party. There was some inebriated dancing involved, some very close talking, some kissing, some more romantic arm-touching, and Kina tried on Marty’s glasses; she looked really cute in them. Kina thought Marty’s costume was funny (no one else did). In any case, they rummaged through a pile of coats to find Kina’s jacket, and they left the party together, absconding to Marty’s room. It was the beginning of something exciting!
About a week later, they went on their first actual date—they met up at the campus coffee shop where they both worked, and went on a long walk in Hamilton’s Kirkland Glen. Marty was so nervous, he didn’t sleep at all the night before. Even though he was exhausted, they still had a great time on their first date, and it was the first of many romantic excursions into wooded areas akin to Shakespearean green spaces—which is to say, Kina and Marty were able to temporarily leave behind the rigors and stresses of their daily lives, willfully abandoning their subject positions, magically transforming into a singular body that hollered ecstatically from the rural New York State hills. But unlike the romance of so many Shakespearean comedies, their love was not frivolous or random. Kina and Marty made each other Arcadians—and they are grateful to have never left the elysian fields, the atemporal shade.
Time passed. They want on a strange date at Red Lobster. They covertly flirted at the café where they both worked. They hiked a mountain in Vermont, and they met each others’ parents. They exchanged mixtapes. They wandered ankle-deep through streams in the Glen. They read each others’ poems and had heated debates about typography. They found each other in Times Square. They watched Lifetime movies in a hotel.
At a certain point, it became clear that Kina would be studying abroad in New Zealand the following semester. Marty decided to purchase a plane ticket to visit Kina. It was a fairly risky move, given that they’d only been together for about four months at that point, but they also believed in the relationship, and knew that visiting would be the best way to sustain it. New Zealand was—for both of them—life-changing. Though Marty didn’t have the courage to bungee jump like Kina, he became adept at driving on the left side of the road; together, they went on an epic roadtrip across the South Island, complete with car troubles, epic hikes, and sleeping in ramshackle mountaintop sheds.
Following Marty’s visit to New Zealand, the two communicated heavily through Skype and long letters. It was a tough time—particularly since Marty was in the arduous process of applying to graduate schools while Kina was gone—but they survived, and had an amazing spring semester together.
After Marty graduated in the spring of 2013, he moved down to Oxford, Mississippi to pursue his MFA in Poetry. Again, Marty and Kina were in a long-distance relationship, but of course, it was much easier for Kina to visit this time. The two of them rapidly fell in love with the South—with mint juleps on porches, with hot summers and deviled eggs and red beans and rice, with backyard gardens and poetry readings in sheds, with Faulkner and Frank Stanford, with the wild college football culture in Oxford… Kina was prepared to move down to Oxford the following year (after she finished up at Hamilton). Marty endured his first year of grad school, complete with only a few nervous breakdowns; meanwhile, Kina worked as a writing center tutor, excelled in all of her classes, and edited Red Weather, the same literary journal where Kina and Marty had first met.
After Kina graduated in the spring of 2014, she moved to Oxford, where she first worked as an intern for the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network in Oxford, and then as an Americorps volunteer at a food hub in Hernando. Marty and Kina moved into a cute house in Oxford with a great porch and an amazing backyard. They’d accumulated two cats by this point—Virgil and Vader—and it quickly became a happy household filled with love, poetry, constant cuddling, and way too much cat hair. After having been apart for so much of their relationship, they were (and are!) so grateful to be together in a place they love, with incredible friends and so much joy.
In the winter, Marty and Kina went on a poetry pilgrimage / romantic getaway to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, an Ozark town where Frank Stanford, one of Marty’s favorite poets, completed his magnum opus. They rented an inexpensive cabin that amazingly had a hot tub on the porch. The town was weird, alluring, and magical (in that order), and it was there that they first discussed the possibility of spending their lives together, of having children, of their desire to live together in a rural town someday, perhaps one not unlike Eureka Springs. They were sitting on the porch of a wine bar overlooking the town’s tiny Main Street, with the mountains in the distance. A few glasses in, they started talking about the future, and Marty got emotional. The entire time they were in Eureka Springs, they were struck with a similar kind of feeling as the first time they’d been in the Glen together—a simultaneous sense of anonymity and togetherness in this strange, hazy town in Arkansas. The sun set over the Ozarks and pop music played from passing pickups, a raucous group of bikers drinking on the bar balcony across the street. Eureka Springs felt like an atemporal dot within a massive, unknown abyss that comprised Marty and Kina’s lives, futures, careers, and the inevitable questions surrounding the possibilities of parenthood—and it was made all the stranger by the fact that they’d both been undergraduates in a tiny liberal arts school in the Northeast only a few years before. But the unknowable was euphoric, and they felt it as they walked home up a path without street lights, curving through the woods of the Arkansas hills. I’ll bleed, Frank Stanford wrote, so the dark will have something to shine in.
Marty made concrete plans to propose to Kina during the winter, when he was visiting his parents in Vermont. On July 1, during a road trip up to Marty’s parents’ summer home in upstate New York, they made a surprise pit stop at Hamilton College. Even though it had been raining all day, and neither of them were dressed for the occasion, Marty demanded that they remove their shoes and go for a walk in the Glen—the same woods where they’d gone on their first date. They sat down on a log and Marty proposed—almost cinematically, the sky immediately burst into torrential rain, and they sprinted back to the car, soaked and smiling.
See you in Clinton, NY, July 9, 2016! We're so excited to get married. : )