This is a love story.
A story about two people who liked each other more than they disliked each other's politics. Which makes it an unusual tale for 2022 indeed.
Abby was the communications director for a Republican congressman. Adam was a union Democrat and past chair of the Metropolitan Council.
They met in an America where college students don't want roommates who don't share their political views and dating apps let you filter prospects to avoid any awkward "You voted for who?" conversations on the first date.
How you vote tells some Americans everything they care to know about what kind of person you are.
Immoral. Dishonest. Closed-minded. Unintelligent. Lazy.
When the Pew Research Center asked Americans across the political spectrum to describe the people on the other side of that spectrum, many used at least four of those five terms to sum up anyone who checked different boxes on the ballot.
Almost two-thirds of Republicans in the 2022 report said Democrats are lazy. Even more Democrats called Republicans immoral. Majorities in both parties said people who don't vote like they vote just aren't as smart as the rest of America. The real America.
Which brings us back to our love story, and a reminder that Americans can be better than their worst polling data.
Once upon a time, Adam Duininck went to Washington. He had moved on from the Met Council to serve as director of government affairs for the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters and on that day in 2018, he was leading a union delegation from one congressional office to the next — the Republicans, the Democrats, anyone who would sit and listen to their concerns.
Which brought him to the office of U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn.
Which brought him to Abby Rime.
"I knew almost everyone in the Minnesota congressional offices. Didn't know Abby," Duininck said. "Who's this beautiful young woman?"
They exchanged business cards; they exchanged texts; they followed each other on social media. They liked what they saw.
Or at least most of what they saw. Before their first date, he told her he would be attending the unveiling of former Gov. Mark Dayton's official portrait.
Dayton, the Democrat who had appointed him to the Met Council. Dayton and Emmer ran against each other in the 2010 gubernatorial race — a race Dayton won by fewer than 9,000 votes.
"We just won't talk about that on Friday," Abby told him with a laugh.
Instead, they talked about music and movies and food. Their mutual ties to western Minnesota. The fact that they were both raised in homes with parents who canceled each other's votes on Election Day.
"It was very easy for us to talk about things other than politics," he said.
When they do talk politics, usually on long car trips where there's time to really hash out their opposing viewpoints, something Emmer told Abby sticks with her.
"We want the same things for our family and our community. We just don't agree on how to get there," she said. "I think that helps when we have some tough conversations. I do my best to give that person as much benefit of the doubt as possible, that they want the same thing that I do. We just have to come to some common ground."
The history of America is paved with common ground. The Republicans who broke the filibuster by segregationist Southern Democrats to allow the Civil Rights Act to pass into law. The Democrats who said, "Richard Nixon has a point. Creating the Environmental Protection Agency sounds like a good idea."
American politics can be toxic and petty and mean. Or motivational, constructive and even inspiring. Either way, there's something to be said for writing off everyone who disagrees with you.
"I can see the value in the opinions he holds," she said. "If I'm pushing an argument for personal responsibility, he might have a different [viewpoint]. I think we bring the best of both sets of values to the table and find a way to balance them in a way that works for our family."
He's a rural Minnesota Democrat. She's a Republican from the metro. They were both raised in families as bipartisan as America, and one rainy day this July, they married. There's a reason it's lucky to get married in the rain, the best man told them: Nothing is harder to pull apart than a wet knot.
Abby and Adam Duininck are working in the private sector these days, enjoying a break from the constant political churn.
"It helps us focus on how great life experience can be outside work," he said. "It's a relief at times to go to a concert, to go to a ballgame. ... The political environment we live in is 24/7. It's a relief to step outside of that and talk about mundane things like going to Target and cutting the grass."
They've talked and laughed and listened their way through pandemic lockdown and several election cycles now.
"We might have different views on how the world should work, but we both agree on what values should be uplifted," she said. "He's my best friend. Even if we don't agree, I know he respects where I'm coming from and I respect where he's coming from."