So Rex, Barb, Katie and I pile into a car and drive to Madison one day. It’s about 4 hours from the Twin Cities and it was a fun ride. We were making plans and laughing and singing along to the radio. When we got there, we found a newspaper with a list of apartments and homes for rent. I remember sitting there in the sunlight, taking in the fresh air and all the sights and sounds around me. For those of you who have never been to Madison, it is a smaller city, a college town and a capitol city. It was like all of the best parts of Minneapolis and Saint Paul had been placed in one area.

We had no idea what we were looking for. Did we want an apartment or a house? We figured we’d just look at different places until we found the perfect place. Rex was excited about a listing for four bedroom apartments. I found a listing for a house for rent.

4-5 bedrooms, three story, two bathrooms, two kitchens, balcony, porch. $750 a month.

Oh my God. This was perfect. As I was reading the listing a second time, a Monarch Butterfly gracefully flew up, landed on the newspaper on the listing, flew up again and circled me 3 times. It was obviously a sign! But Rex, who was a manly man and not given to consulting obvious signs, was insistent that we check out the apartments he had picked out. We would look at the house if the apartments didn’t pan out.

Now Madison is a college town. These apartments were on campus. This translates to “little tiny holes that we can charge a fortune for.” The first apartment was dark, dismal and damp – all for the bargain price of $950 a month (which now sounds like the best bargain for a four bedroom apartment but in 1990 was outrageous). The second apartment was slightly bigger but I was still claustrophobic in it. I’m not sure I can describe this very well but I’ll try. When you entered the apartment, you took two steps and there was a wall. The wall was exactly one inch away from where the door opened out fully. In order to move through out the apartment, you had to stand in a tiny spot and shut the door. If you have multiple people coming into the apartment, you stand and shut multiple times. Not worth it, especially not at $1050 a month. The third apartment? Oh, it was so much better (sarcasm). It’s one redeeming feature was the black and white tile in the kitchen. And for $1150 a month, it could be ours!

Defeated, we wander back to the car. I say “Can we go look at the house now?” Bow to my wisdom, you tall, gangly Liar man, you (Believe me when I say that Rex is not just a liar because of our one night together when he asked for my phone number and never called me. Never. I always wanted to ask him “Dude. I already slept with you. What was the point in pretending that we were going to have this great romantic relationship. Why couldn’t you have ended it with a ‘Hey, thanks for putting out’ or something like that? Why’d you have to lie?” There is much more that happened that I will tell you about in due time. Let’s just say calling him Liar man is a prelude to many more lies to come)!

Rex, still in his manly man phase, makes the phone call to the owner of the house. We get directions and head over there to meet him. The house welcomes us with a glorious welcoming sort of feeling, well, it welcomed me. I don’t know about anyone else. We sit down on the steps and wait. Soon I hear Rex say “Do you think that is him?” Katie says “I don’t know but oh my God, he is hot.” Barb and I look quickly up. Yes, there he is, maybe an inch or two taller than me (still short but built), dark hair, dark eyes…mmm, pretty.

We meet, we talk, we tour the house. It is perfect. Dante, the hot landlord, informs us that he used to rent it out in units but decided to try renting out the entire house. We ask for some time to make a decision. He suggests we go and check out the Crystal Corner and he would be back shortly. It was (and still is, apparently) a blues bar and very cool. We decide we want to stay in the house.

It was going to be so great, staying there. Rent would be, divided by 4 people, only $190. How could anything ever go wrong?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, something went wrong. More later.

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