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Magic of Love: The Story of How Couple of Magicians Became Official

Lindsey hates bananas. It's a visceral, deep disdain evoking a guttural response of disgust from even the casual mention of the fruit. For that reason, it may have been a risky decision to launch such an important and emotionally charged quest by having the first clue taped to a lonely banana. It seemed to work out ok in the end.

The morning of January 9, 2019, I walked out the front door of our West Philly rental and texted my girlfriend that she should go check the kitchen table. We would not see each other for the next eight or so hours, yet it would remain one of the most enthralling, memorable days that we'd ever spend together. We were best friends, lovers, co-workers, and adventure partners, destined in a few hours to be engaged—but not before Lindsey trekking across Philadelphia, solving riddles, tackling physical hurdles, and meeting a host of supportive and excited friends along the way. Starting with a banana.

We've always loved puzzles, riddles, pinball, escape rooms, rock climbing, good beers, and coffee. We love Philadelphia! And virtually all of the experiences that led us to fall deeply in love pair with a wide variety of locations throughout the city. The initial location? A small, now defunct performance space in Fishtown: The First Banana. We are both professional magicians and had met at a small show that neither of us particularly wanted to do. From that show on, our relationship (both business and personal) grew rapidly and fervently. We wrote together, traveled together, consulted on television and theater shows together; everything was an adventure, so there was no way our engagement day could not involve a city-wide scavenger hunt that visited our most dearly loved locales and with many of our closest, loving friends.

While Lindsey was reading her first (banana) note, wrapping her head around its meaning and preparing to journey out into the cold, I had hopped into my car and took off across the city. The first stop was to pick up our dear friend, Brigette, who would be my right-hand copilot for the day. Brigette was along for the ride to help manage time and ensure that Lindsey would find all of the necessary clues. We had back-ups of all 13 clues and maintained contact with any friends who were interested in joining as the day unfolded. We would drive to each spot, staying one step ahead of Lindsey and watching, amateur detective style, to make sure she found and solved each of the necessary items to lead her toward the final goal.

We arrived at the First Banana and hid in the car a few doors down, patiently awaiting her arrival. I had taken her phone and turned on location sharing—with her knowledge, of course!—but also put in my own credit card info so she could pay for the necessary drinks, Lyfts, and whatnot along the way. When Lindsey reached our place of origin, she found an envelope with another note and the first of many QR codes that would provide the next clue. Her first QR scan led to a video from our friend, Jack Cutmore-Scott—the actor we taught magic to for the ABC crime procedural, Deception. It's a delightful, campy video of Jack as a secret agent, instructing Lindsey on how the next few hours were to go. "Your task, should you choose to accept it, is simply to make your way from one location to the next, collecting data and clues along the way as to where this journey leads." Jack proceeds to explain that she would be collecting puzzle pieces and Scrabble tiles (in the envelopes at each location). He reveals that there was also a crossword puzzle she'd need to solve—designed by another friend and New York Times Crossword creator, David Kwong. The puzzle would come into play more relevantly about halfway through, but for now it was time for Lindsey to make her way to the tree in a nearby park, under which we used to sit and read together.

Only down the block by a few hundred feet, she made her way to the tree and found a favorite magic book of mine—Modern Coin Magic—bookmarked with another clue leading to the nearby rock climbing gym. Upon entering the gym, she'd encounter a staff person suitably excited at the goings on, leading Lindsey to an easy enough bouldering problem. At the top of the problem, another envelope, another clue—this time a hollowed out secret magic coin containing a token to another favorite spot, Barcade. The quest in full swing, she'd now have to  take a Lyft over to the bar and be greeted by a couple of good friends and some time to play a game of pinball or two before learning her next location, our beloved coffee shop and writing spot, Red Hook. From beer to coffee, she'd have to reach the bottom of the cup to reveal the next QR code: a video of our friend Sage from the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe where we had performed a few months earlier. Sage offered appropriate advice for her name, leading now to two more performance spaces where we had done various magic and variety shows over the past few years. It was at one of said spaces that Lindsey learned the use of the crossword puzzle: a cypher that isolated specific letters leading her to the next location halfway across town. From the Ethical Society to the Trocadero to the legendary Eastern State Penitentiary, Lindsey Lyfted and walked while Brigette and I tracked and stayed (just barely) ahead of her, planting the necessary clues just before her arrival and narrowly avoiding being sighted. The bartender at one location would place hand her a personal drink coaster with another QR code, and before finishing the drink she'd be out the door to the address of our first kiss: Underground Arts!

Nearing the end of the travels, Lindsey found her way to the Philadelphia Public Library, a specific Dewey Decimal number that was coded to her through a devious magic trick she was unaware that I set up on her phone. In this section, she found an out of place book—one that I had planted only a few minutes earlier. The book? "Choose Your Own Adventure, Volume 1: The Cave of Time." She freely chose her adventure, following the advice to call her friend whom I had asked to lead her to the nearby final destination of the day. That destination: Philadelphia's science museum, The Franklin Institute, was coincidentally a former workplace of Brigette and a current one of another friend of ours, Victoria! With Victoria's help, we were able to reserve and gain permission to alter the ending of one of their in-house escape rooms which would in turn reveal the final clue to the epic journey. Victoria handed Lindsey a change of clothes and led her to a room where she could freshen up before beginning the final task. As she changed, a handful of other close friends showed up, ready to work their way through the escape room with her.

Together, they solved the riddles and navigated through the room until finding the final hidden space. It was there I had placed Brigette's laptop, open to a blank word processing screen that allowed Lindsey to solve the final puzzle: the answer being the question we had both (all!) Been anticipating the entire day. She took the puzzle pieces, assembled them to reveal the message: "The key to my heart is one space to the left." She assessed the Scrabble tiles and the order in which she received them, slightly shifted the placement of her hands on the keyboard, and typed the following strokes: eo;;I,sttu,rz/

"Will U Marry Me?" spelled out on the screen, she turned and exited the room to find a crowd of our dearest friends and her now husband kneeling down and extending the ring we had chosen together a year earlier.

The rest of the evening went as such momentous occasions do: perfectly with food and drink and phone calls and friends, and of course memories that can not ever lose their luster.

Happy Anniversary, Lindsey Noel. You are my best adventure partner; I love you the most.

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