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I am a journalist, and I interview couples and write their love story so they can share it with their family and friends. One of my favorite stories is Micah and Aidan's....
Photo by Jason Gardner, jasongardner.net
On a January afternoon in 2010 Aidan caught himself walking down a Brooklyn street singing lines from “Son of a Preacher Man,” a song believed to have been written by one gay man for another. Aidan realized how true the lyrics rang for him. “The only one who could ever reach me, was the son of a preacher man,” Aidan hummed. His boyfriend of one year was the son of a minister from Ohio, and Aidan had known, shortly after he met Micah, that they were made for each other.
There was nothing uncommon in how Micah and Aidan met. They were introduced by a friend of Micah’s from Fordham University who attended the graduate program in acting at The New School, where Aidan was a classmate. And this is where the ordinariness of their story ends.
Micah, who will be 32 when they wed in December, was born and raised in Cleveland. “I guess I was a strange child,” he said, pondering the origins of his love of theater and the arts. “My friends talk about their tastes being infiltrated by their parents, but I didn’t have that. I was the one choosing movies for the family, so we watched some crazy things when I was little.” Micah was particularly fond of “Orca,” a killer whale horror movie, and “Without a Trace,” a drama about a Park Slope single mother whose son is kidnapped. He asked his mom to rent the movie over and over. Before the closing scene, when the mother drops her groceries upon seeing her son return, Micah would ask his own mom, “Do you think she’ll drop the groceries this time?”
An only child, he was 4 years old when his parents divorced, but he remained close to both. Micah attended church services regularly, and listened to Christian rock. He was teased for being girly. “But in high school, people just allowed me to be a quirky guy,” he said. “I did all the things that would get you made fun of.” He was president of the Thespian Society and was the first chair trumpet section leader in marching band. In his junior year, the school performed “Play On,” about a community theater putting on a play. Micah didn’t like any of the parts for men in the show, so he auditioned for the part of a female playwright. He was cast, and played the part as an effeminate gay man. “It was sort of transgressive, but in hindsight, it was also sort of homophobic on my part. I also look at it as my 16-year old way of acting out and saying the female roles in plays are just more fun.” He finished high school and enrolled at Fordham University, planning on a career that combined church ministry and the arts.
Aidan was born at home in 1975, in the Buddhist commune on Long Island where his parents lived. Shortly after, his parents moved with their three boys to the Green Gulch Zen Center in Muir Beach, near San Francisco. His parents divorced and years later, his father married a woman who lived near the beach with an acre of land for a back yard. It had an idyllic view of the ocean, and even better for Aidan, an Olympic-size trampoline.
Aidan was in the third grade when he began spending every afternoon on that trampoline. “It had rusty springs and was totally unsafe by today’s standards, but it was perfect for me.” Once he mastered the basic moves, Aidan taught himself how to do back flips. Completely enamored, he sought out the Pickle Family Circus when he was 11 years old. The circus couldn’t hire him because he was too young, but less than two years later they called him back. A master of acrobatics from China had moved to San Francisco and they wanted Aidan to audition for a spot in his class. Aidan trained with him for the next three years. When Aidan was 15, the circus offered him a contract.
“I took the offer on the spot,” Aidan recalled. His father was less enthused, pushing for Aidan to finish high school and college. “But I was 15, and patience wasn’t a word in my vocabulary.” After 4 months of rehearsal, Aidan was off on his first tour with the circus. When he returned to San Francisco seven months later, he moved out on his own.
Micah chose New York City for college because he wanted to be in the world of theatre. His plan was to study playwriting or performance, and eventually go to Divinity School. That changed when he came out, the summer before his junior year at Fordham. “I wasn’t able to reconcile religion and being gay, so I abandoned religion for a while.” He majored in performance in 2002, and had a series of jobs for the next several years. He worked at Actor’s Equity, at a company called Resume.com, and at Condé Nast. He teamed up with a friend to create The Gay Agenda, a two-man musical theatre band. It was a success, and with voice and piano they captivated audiences around the city. A reviewer on nytheather.com wrote, “These are two crackerjack performers who have written some incredible songs,” a sentiment that was confirmed by their full house performances at Joe’s Pub.
Micah also worked for a former professor who was an agent for playwrights and directors. Micah had been her intern during college, and had always considered her a mentor. “She’s one of the people who shaped the connection I see between art and the spiritual,” Micah said. “When I worked for her, I saw her act as a sort of minister to the artists she represents.”
Aidan moved into a communal housing apartment in the heart of the Mission District of San Francisco. “It was 6 of us in a shabby-chic, dry-wall dormitory,” he said. It had exposed beams and a living room with bleachers and a black box theater. When his roommates celebrated his 20th birthday, Aidan was actually turning 17. He took the GED and continued to perform with the circus. In the off-season he taught acrobatics, waited tables and hauled trees and dirt for his oldest brother’s landscape architecture company. From 1992 through 2002 Aidan lived the circus life, touring throughout the United States and also in Japan, Brazil and Canada.
He turned 26 in 2002 and moved to Los Angeles. He did flips in commercials and other stunt work. He drove a Volkswagen Rabbit that always broke down to auditions and to meet the students he trained. He was one of the Acrobatic Elves in “The Polar Express,” and he loved being on stage and physically active. “But sometimes I felt I was on a crazy rollercoaster,” Aidan said.
Aidan moved back to San Francisco to put on a show with former circus colleagues. The show was a hit and he loved living on a friend’s houseboat in Sausalito, but even that grew old and he began to feel isolated. When a friend from acting class asked him to help her with an admissions interview, he agreed. She had applied to the graduate program in acting at The New School in New York, and needed someone to act with her in a dialogue. She flew Aidan to New York, and the admissions officers were so impressed with Aidan that they asked him to apply for the program. Both Aidan and his friend were accepted.
Marco was one of Micah’s best friends at Fordham. Aidan met Marco during orientation at The New School. Marco immediately informed both men that he wanted to introduce them, but their paths didn’t cross until Aidan’s third and final year in the program. Shortly before the end of the fall semester, Marco and Aidan ran into Micah at the Art Bar in Greenwich Village. Micah was caught in a corner behind several people, and all he managed was a friendly handshake. “The next day, Marco lambasted me for not more thoroughly acknowledging Aidan,” Micah said.
Shortly after, Micah went to the year-end performance at The New School. He went out with the class afterward, and this time there was more than a handshake. “I’ve made it my goal to make out with you by the end of the night,” Aidan informed him. “That won’t be a difficult goal to achieve,” Micah retorted.
They spent the entire following week together, before parting ways briefly for Christmas break. At the end of what had seemed like the longest week ever, Aidan flew back from San Francisco. The two had made plans to ring in 2009 together at an Amanda Palmer concert. But the bad weather rerouted Aidan’s flight to Philadelphia, with just a few hours to go till midnight. “Aidan was heroic and gallant and got on a bus to New York so he could still arrive before the show. He’s quite romantic,” Micah said.
It didn’t take long for them to fall in love. Micah said he was pretty cynical about love and coupling off, but Aidan won him over. He describes Aidan as the most generous person he’s ever known. “I’d never encountered a person who will give so much immediately without wondering what positive or negative effect it will have on him. I see it affect so many people around us. Aidan injects every situation with such positive energy. That was the first thing I realized about him, besides how handsome he is.”
Aidan, who said that “Micah is just so beautiful to look at,” fell in love the first time he saw Micah perform in The Gay Agenda. “It was clear that he’s just brilliant.” A “combination of sameness and oppositions” is what makes their bond so strong, Aidan said. “We’re both romantic in different ways, but we enjoy being with each other, cooking dinner, watching movies, sitting side by side reading books, or going out to events. I love the way that our humor complements each other but isn’t the same style.” Aidan is also in awe of Micah’s bond with his family. “They call each other even when they have nothing at all to say!”
During their first few months together, they dined with a friend of Aidan’s who was studying at Union Theological Seminary. “As she talked about her experience, I got as much of a call as I’m comfortable admitting,” Micah said. That night, Micah told Aidan he wanted to go back to church. “Awesome, let’s do it,” Aidan said.
In the summer of 2009 they attended their first service at Judson Memorial Church. They have barely missed a Sunday since, and have become fixtures in the life of the church. The following September Micah enrolled in seminary and became a community minister at Judson, where he oversees an active arts program. Aidan collaborates with him at the church, and has taken on roles of his own, including co-creating several flash mob dances, even though he still maintains a full personal training schedule and auditions on occasion.
The largest of Aidan’s flash mobs took place on Gay Pride Sunday in June 2011. Micah was preaching that day. During rehearsal, Micah whispered jokingly to Aidan, “Wanna get married?” They laughed it off, but later on Aidan said to him to not say that again unless he meant it.
Six months later, it was Aidan who did the asking. On December 30, he sat alone in their Brooklyn apartment waiting for Micah to return from Cleveland. He had moved furniture around, lined the stairs with candles, surrounded himself with pictures of the two of them, and spray-painted “Will you Marry” on the wall behind him. He ran out of space, so he held up a sign reading, “Me.”
For over an hour, Aidan sat and waited, meditating and listening to Eva Cassidy sing “Fields of Gold” over and over. When Micah walked in, he looked like a character from a 1920s show, Aidan said. His pea coat was buttoned all the way up to the top, and his brown, hard-shell old school vintage piece of luggage looked like it should have ‘I’m going to grandma’s’ written on it.’ “He was so cute walking in the door.” But he didn’t see the writing on the wall. Slightly puzzled by the “Me” sign, Micah proceeded to tell Aidan about his trip. Finally, he got it. “Oh my God,” Micah exclaimed. “Will you marry me?” Aidan finally asked. Micah said ‘yes’ immediately. About 14 times.