Sunday Brunch: Kite and String

Sunday Brunch With Melissa Bartell


“What is it like,” I asked my husband earlier this weekend, “being married to someone with a creative personality?”

“Well,” he answered slowly (but then, he does most things both slowly and methodically), “it’s never boring.”

“That was very diplomatic,” I told him. “But not terribly helpful.”

Kite and StringHe pointed out that since he was in the process of hanging all the clean laundry that doesn’t get folded, he was being helpful enough for one day. “Anyway,” he added, “you keep telling me I suck at multitasking.”

“Well,” I responded. “You do.”  Then I turned on my heel and left the room, fighting not to laugh.

Last month, Fuzzy (that’s my nickname for him, though his real identity isn’t a secret) and I celebrated our twenty-first wedding anniversary. Our celebration was tame – we went out for breakfast – which may seem like nothing, but a lot of our first dates involved breakfast food, so it was appropriate for us.

Besides, we bought each other our big gifts – VIP tickets to Dallas Comic Con in June – back in February. Going to cons is something we both enjoy, and we’re comfortable enough in our mutual geekiness that we’re not embarrassed about it.

If you’d asked me, when I was seven, if I was ever going to get married I would have giggled and blushed and admitted that I had a crush on Shaun Cassidy, who was known to me, then, as Joe Hardy on the Hardy Boys television show.

If you’d asked me the same question when I was twelve, I would have glowered at you, and insisted I was never, ever getting married, but on the off-chance that I did we would have separate apartments. (Sometimes, I’m not sure that was a bad idea.)

I was never the girl who dreamed about getting married, had her wedding planned before she could construct complete sentences, or gushed over brides and babies.

At nineteen, I had this romantic notion of being a contemporary version of a foreign correspondent, traveling all over the world, sending thick, vivid letters back home, and having a succession of brooding, artsy lovers.

That didn’t happen, but I did date a musician for a while when I was twenty-one. He was older. And he was a mess. But every relationship teaches you something, and I came away from that experience with a great appreciation for jazz and blues and The Great American Songbook.

From the beginning, our relationship – Fuzzy’s and mine – was uniquely ours. We met online in a time when nobody was doing that, and the world wide web… wasn’t. We started planning a proper wedding only to realize we didn’t want to deal with the fuss, or our family’s differing religious and political views, or the fact that I’d just moved from California to South Dakota to be with him, and didn’t have a job (or health insurance) yet.

We eloped on a chilly Friday in March, in the courthouse where Laura and Almanzo Wilder’s marriage was registered (I was a life-long Laura fan, and became more of one when, on my first visit to South Dakota, the drive to the family farm took us, not only down the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historical Highway, but past DeSmet – the actual “Little Town” on the prairie.)

My mother refused to talk to me for a month after I told her, but then she sent us a box with some great gifts, and a check… and months after that, she threw us a fantastic party where we had a re-commitment ceremony in her front yard, and a pot-luck reception featuring a smoked turkey and the traditional wedding foods from several of her friends’ cultures of origin, in the back yard.

Holding HandsOver the years, our marriage has gone through several changes. For a while I made more money than Fuzzy, but he was proud of me for that, even though he often worried about the number of hours I spent at work. For the last decade, he’s been the primary wage-earner, and while he won’t admit it, I think there’s a part of him that secretly likes being able to be the provider.

Sometimes, I’ve worked at an office while he got to spend a couple days a week at home, and sometimes he’s worked over an hour away while I could walk to work. Today, we both work from home (which is why there are only two of us plus four dogs living in our five-bedroom house – we each need our own office), but he travels for work, and every so often I travel without him for one reason or another.

There are also things that have never changed: we’re both nocturnal, more likely to see dawn because we haven’t been to bed than because we just woke up; we still make each other laugh at least once a day; we both sleep better when we’re curled up together in the center of our bed (dogs permitting) than on separate sides.

I drink coffee, and he drinks warm orange soda. He wears shoes to the beach, and I’m barefoot as much as possible. I double the amount of walnuts in anything I bake because he loves them, and he brings me flowers every time he goes grocery shopping. I’m a Star Trek fan to the depths of my soul, while he prefers Star Wars, and he’s a Marvel guy while I’m a DC girl, but, at the end of the day, whatever we have works.

He still flirts with me, at home, in public, everywhere.

I still can’t get enough of his kisses, or his singing voice.

If there are times when his somewhat introverted, often pedantic, stoic, engineer self makes me feel like I’m actually married to the android Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, I’m certain that my tendency to bounce from topic to topic, change my accent on a whim, and wander around the house talking to myself as I work out lines of dialogue for an audio drama I’m in, or a story I’m writing, makes him feel like he’s married to Sibyl.

So, what is it like for my sweet, loyal, list-following, spreadsheet-loving husband to be married to someone who has a creative personality? Here’s how I described our relationship to my friend Caroline (in Sweden) a few days ago – and how I describe us to most people:

I’m kind of like a kite – flying around doing all sorts of things – writing, improv, music, voice acting, podcasting – letting the wind take me where it will, and he’s the string, giving me enough room to fly, but still keeping me anchored to the earth.

Kite and String.

Me and Fuzzy.

Twenty-one years.

It isn’t always perfect, but at the same time, it totally is.

Kite and String Copyright: altomedia / 123RF Stock Photo
Holding Hands Copyright: worapong / 123RF Stock Photo


About the author: Melissa A. Bartell

Melissa A. BartellMelissa is a writer, voice actor, podcaster, itinerant musician, voracious reader, and collector of hats and rescue dogs. She is the author of The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Holiday Tub. You can learn more about her on her blog, or connect with her on on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.