Carmen George

This Valentine’s Day, let fun be your guide like one Fresno couple

Square dancing keeps fun alive for Fresno couple

Emerald and Timothy Potesan have embraced each others' interests to strengthen their marriage. Emerald now plays video games, Timothy square dances. Recorded Monday, February 8, 2016 in Fresno, Calif. (video: Eric Paul Zamora)
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Emerald and Timothy Potesan have embraced each others' interests to strengthen their marriage. Emerald now plays video games, Timothy square dances. Recorded Monday, February 8, 2016 in Fresno, Calif. (video: Eric Paul Zamora)

This Valentine’s Day, brushing up on some square dance moves or pretending to be a hunter troll with a pet dinosaur during a game of World of Warcraft might be in store for Timothy and Emerald Potesan.

The 26-year-olds of Fresno have the kind of relationship that centers on having fun. She gets discounts at Blackbeard’s Family Entertainment Center, where she works as a supervisor. He gets free movie tickets as manager of the Clovis 8 theater. They ride bikes to the park together for a kind of treasure hunting, called geocaching. They square dance. They play video, board and card games.

Find something you enjoy doing together.

Timothy Potesan

I offer their love tale to you because:

1. Everybody wants to have fun. Everybody loves love. (Yes, you do.)

2. It would be pretty messed up if a column called Heart in the San Joaquin couldn’t muster a love story for Valentine’s Day.

So, let us return to Emerald and Timothy.

Their fun love story started several years ago, when they met while leading after-school programs through an urban ministry internship with Care Fresno. Emerald, who started square dancing as a baby in her parents’ arms, regularly recruited friends and colleagues to weekly square dance nights with the Wood Stackers, founded by her father and stepmother. Timothy initially declined these invitations, but finally decided to “throw her a bone” one day and show up.

Their family saw the blossoming love, but the pair insisted they were “just friends” until one fateful day after riding bicycles to the Fresno Yosemite International Airport sign.

“He was like, ‘I always thought it would be cool to have a date at this sign and just like watch the planes fly overhead,’ ” Emerald recalls. “And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that is so cute.’ And later I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that was basically like a date!’ 

They were engaged to be married about two years later. Timothy’s proposal came during one of their regular scavenger hunts. The hidden treasure was her engagement ring.

After their marriage in January 2015, Timothy popped another question: Will you play video games with me?

Just communicate what you want: ‘I would like to go ride our bikes today.’

Emerald Potesan

Emerald was hesitant at first, but she is now “becoming addicted” to World of Warcraft, where she plays a hunter troll with a pet dinosaur raptor and another creature that looks kind of like a bison. She also is getting into the role playing card game Dungeons & Dragons, where she plays an elf cleric.

“She’s kind of like a priest that also can get down and dirty when needed,” Timothy explains.

(Fighting, that is. I checked.)

They’re surprised at how each other’s hobbies are becoming their own, and they really like how these shared interests are helping their relationship.

“If we are mad at each other, dancing forces us to make up,” Timothy says.

Square dancing helps to lighten our mood.

Emerald Potesan

A number of their fellow square dancers, who met square dancing, say the same thing. Some have lived about three times as long as Timothy and Emerald, and they shared some advice during a recent dance night at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Fresno:

“Keep smiling,” Craig Loy says.

“Keep dancing,” adds his wife, Mickey Loy.

Emerald’s father, Joe Gonzalez, is happy to see his daughter and son-in-law dancing, too.

“It will make them stronger for the simple reason that they are together all the time.”

Dancer Randy Kliegl agrees.

“If you don’t do something together, you’re going to grow apart. You’re going to forget the reason why you were together in the first place.”

Make a plan to do it, or else you are not going to do it. Be intentional about spending time together.

Emerald Potesan

Across the table, Larry Cardoza, 82, adds something sweet.

“I actually enjoy round dancing more than the square dancing because you are with your partner all evening.”

I tell the couples they seem like romantic people, and they giggle.

“We’re crazy,” Mickey Loy adds with a laugh.

But watching all their adorableness out on the dance floor, I’m pretty sure they’ve got this love thing figured out. And it seems to come back to making time for fun – together.

There’s a lot of laughs, too. It keeps you young. It keeps you young at heart. It enhances your relationship with each other.

Mickey Loy of square dancing

“You have to work together,” says Emerald’s stepmother, Kay Gonzalez, of square dancing. “Then you end up laughing together, and then it’s OK. Life is good.”

Emerald loves that Timothy makes her laugh.

“I love his personality. He’s a huge goofball. I think that’s another thing that attracted him to me, his personality. He’s funny, he’s outgoing. That’s one of the things I personally wanted, someone I could have fun with, and we’ve definitely done that.”

Carmen George: 559-441-6386, @CarmenGeorge

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