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By M.A.C. LYNCH, Special to The Courant
The Hartford Courant
August 25, 2013
When Arthur Kasimer-Colon met Kaitlyn Gagne, she was drinking a virgin Bloody Mary, and wearing a pink, wool sweater and "a pair of glasses that looked like they must have been a decade old," he says. "She was very quiet, which I'm not … but I could tell that she was really intelligent."
Kaitlyn, 24, was at Trivia night at a local pub with her roommate., who was meeting Arthur's roommate there. The roommates weren't trying to play matchmaker for Kaitlyn and Arthur, but "I was really intrigued by him," Kaitlyn says. "I called my sister the next morning on my way into work" to tell her.
"We decided we were going to make a trivia team and added four more people" that day in September 2010. Soon, Kaitlyn and her roommate and Arthur and his roommate began hosting each other for dinner on Wednesday nights.
"I did everything short of paint the walls" to clean the apartment the first night the women brought dinner over, says Arthur, 23. The guys called them out when the women showed up with a pasta-in-a-bag meal, after which Arthur announced that he would make Chicken Kiev for his cooking debut at a future meeting. Though he had never even tasted the dish, he borrowed his mother's deep fryer and learned to hammer chicken breasts and mash butter, herbs and cheese for filling.
"We were impressed," Kaitlyn says.
On Thanksgiving weekend, while out with friends in Hartford, Kaitlyn and Arthur danced together all night. A few weeks later, when they went to a movie with their roommates, Arthur bought Kaitlyn's ticket and she bought him a blue Slushy, not knowing he didn't like the concoction.
At the end of December, Arthur invited Kaitlyn out on their first unaccompanied date to a Vietnamese restaurant and dancing. "I was nervous. I went out and bought a new outfit," Kaitlyn says.
"You introduced me as your girlfriend," Kaitlyn told him as they were driving home.
"I did," Arthur said.
"Is that OK with you?"
She was enchanted. A speech-language pathologist in the Glastonbury schools, Kaitlyn lived in a West Hartford apartment one parking lot away from Arthur, who worked processing Medicare and Medicaid claims for Hewlett-Packard. When their leases ended in May 2011, Arthur's stepfather suggested they invest in a house together, and told them about a house he knew was for sale in West Hartford.
"We saw the house on the weekend and got a loan two days later. The house was terrible," Arthur says.
Kaitlyn cried in her car on the way home from their viewing. "I was overwhelmed. It wasn't what I had visualized for my first house," she says. But, "Arthur is very good at managing my meltdowns."
He showed her pictures of what he planned to do to fix the house, and "I trusted him."
With their parents' encouraging them, they bought the house. "I overthink everything," Kaitlyn says, but she added, "It didn't scare me at all."
"The day we closed [on the house] we ripped out all the wallpaper, completely gutted it," says Arthur, who took a week off from work to begin fixing the house. But that first week, in August 2011, Tropical Storm Irene hit, knocking out power for the whole week. Kaitlyn and Arthur spent the week painting by candlelight.
Arthur hated his job and noticed that Kaitlyn came home every night enthusiastically talking about her students. "I decided to look into being a nurse," Arthur says.
In the spring of 2012, he left his job to take classes in microbiology and apply to nursing school. He picked up part-time work at Home Depot.
Kaitlyn also made a career switch to work one-on-one with toddlers from birth to 3 years old in their home settings.
On the July 4, 2012, Kaitlyn and Arthur watched a neighborhood parade, after which Arthur planned to propose that they relax in the Adirondack chairs in their backyard. Kaitlyn said she wanted to stay in the front yard. When he offered her a seat, she pointed out that the chairs were dirty and she was wearing white shorts.
"Do you want to dance with me?" Arthur said.
"There's no music," she said, but he embraced her in a slow dance, told her how much he loved her, and bent down on one knee to give her an engagement ring that had belonged to his great grandmother.
Since January, Arthur, who already had a bachelor's degree in science degree from UConn, has been training at UConn in an intensive one-year program to become a nurse.
"I love it. I feel good," he says.
On Sept. 1, Kaitlyn and Arthur will be married at the Publick House Historic Inn in Sturbridge, Mass. where Kaitlyn’s grandmother used to meet her twin brother, and where her grandfather often took Kaitlyn’s mother when she attended UConn.
Kaitlyn's mother is providing flowers from her garden for their wedding. With Arthur's last semester of classes starting the week before the marriage, the couple is postponing honeymoon plans.
They are happy going to area beaches, CrossFit gyms and working on their house. "She makes me feel like no matter what I want to pursue, I can do it," Arthur says.
"I'm Kaitlyn unfiltered with Arthur," Kaitlyn says. "He's more than I could have imagined. … He is that magnetic force that brings a group together. … Arthur is the only thing I didn't have to overthink."
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