It has been ten years since Ben and I got married — and thankfully — it hasn’t felt like that long. In fact, our marriage is the only thing I can say without a doubt is my best and most solid accomplishment. A lot of people put their career or kids above their marriage and I’ve never understood how or why. Our focus has always been on each other above all else; we waited a very long time to be together, so we don’t take it for granted.
For our anniversary we’re heading to his old grad school stomping grounds of Dublin and Belfast. I have always wanted to get married in a pagan ceremony at Giant’s Causeway (we did a pagan ceremony over the cliffs in Dana Point, CA) and now we’re finally going.
Ben always said one of his favorite cities in the world was Belfast, so that was an easy choice. Neither of us have been anywhere near Europe since maybe 1999, so after the year we had between Milkshake dying of a stroke and me getting a bizarre cancer — well, we decided it was about time! We’ve always had a very ‘us against the world’ attitude so it only makes sense to start kicking it into high gear being that we came so close to losing everything.
We were only officially a couple for 10 months before we got married, so this is sort of a 10:10 anniversary. In fact, Ben and I had never actually dated. We went from old family friends having cocktails — after not having seen each other for 9 years — to engaged in less than 30 hours. I had just graduated college and turned 22 a few weeks before; he was 35, out visiting a friend and interviewing various bands for his magazine. Honestly, the only truly supportive people when we announced the news at first, were our siblings. I’m pretty sure our mothers didn’t believe us (they were happy once the initial shock had passed) and I distinctly remember my mom yelled at me over the phone, “what did you do!?”. Several friends stopped speaking to me. They couldn’t believe I of all people was going to get married, and that it had happened so fast. Some said it was an impulsive stupid choice, a few made hints it wouldn’t last, but mostly I was told I was too young and should wait. But that was the thing: I had been waiting! He had too, we just weren’t totally aware of it. Perhaps I should explain?
Not many people know the full story of how we met and came to fall in love. I think there’s a lot that gets left out just because it is too long. Ben said I should write our full story and cash in on it because in his words, “it sure as hell is better than The Notebook!” I won’t bore you with the extended shebang with the minor details, but I know some people have found the condensed version to be interesting enough.
Neither of us can remember the actual moment we first met, but it was around 1983. Our parents were colleagues, so our families knew each other through the crazy mixed up world of academia and Russian literature. I’ve known my in-laws since about preschool, crazy huh? Anyways, whenever it was that I met Ben, a little voice inside me said “MINE!”. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew it meant something in the way of a crush. But it was bizarre, somehow he became my ideal man (which would explain my penchant for men with dark eyes and hair), and all through childhood I even thought he was out of my league. Who the hell thinks a man 14 years her senior is out of her league when she’s in elementary school?! Me — that’s who.
My parents ran a publishing company out of the massive basement of our house; both Ben, his mom, and even his sister worked there at one point. His sister babysat me on occasion and I used to lie to my friends at school saying she was my sister. Thus it was easy for me to come down after school and bother employees, and draw, and do whatever it was kids do when they are bored. Ben reminded me of the time I handcuffed him with my toy handcuffs and ran off with the key for a while — yeah baby! Sometimes Ben would house sit, or run errands for my mom like picking me up from school to go to the dentist. I had to meet him in the principal’s office once because they thought he was some weird man that came to kidnap me. Not that I would have minded.
He went away for his junior year abroad to England, and when he came back I was quite miffed to find that he had brought a new wife with him. I remember being at the reception at his parent’s house and thinking, “so much for that.” She was pretty, with a fab accent, and any hope I had about growing up and making Ben my boyfriend went totally out the window. But we all liked her, and she babysat me on many occasions with him too (he still remembers all of the weird food preferences I had as a kid). As I got older and got more into music, Ben and I found we had a lot in common. Sadly, there came a point where he had more in common with me than his own wife. He was always like another older brother; taking me to record stores, getting me music magazines (anything with Depeche Mode on the cover) and he even took me to buy my first band poster for my room when I was maybe 12 years old. I debated between The Stone Roses and Depeche Mode — of course Depeche Mode won. On his trips to Europe he would also buy me weird German music zines, and UK magazines like Rage, Vox, Select and other stuff I couldn’t get here. At one point this created a bizarre jealousy in his wife, I’m now told. When I was 13, he and his wife moved to Ireland so he could attend Trinity College. We wouldn’t see each other again for a very long time.
I’d hear little snippets from his mother or my mother about what Ben was up to. Nothing much. I moved to Laguna Beach when I was 16, he moved to Boston, and after 8 years being together, got a divorce from his wife. I was ever-so mildly happy about this. When I was 18, Ben says he actually thought of contacting me; commissioning a painting as an excuse to talk to me. But he thought I had forgotten about him, so he decided not to bother. When I was 21, his parents and I met up in New York and his mom gave me some copies of a small music magazine he was publishing that had Paul Revere and the Raiders on the cover. At this point I thought he had forgotten about me. Then one night, my mom was visiting his parents in Boston when Ben just happened to stop by. He said he was going out to L.A. for a week, and she gave him my email saying I should take him around town.
And this is where I had a lovely little freak out. My friend who would later act as our minister, said she remembers I was very excited his man I hadn’t seen since I was 13 was coming for a visit and I was being ridiculous and giddy about it. Ben had the same reaction when we started emailing back-and-forth as well. Not that we really planned it, but I think we both were excited that we were available, I was now “legal” and…well, you know. When I met him at the Beverly Laurel to go to dinner and see Outrageous Cherry, he had hardly aged. I one the other hand, took a while for him to adjust to, but all the same things we had in common even now. In any event, we were both being complete dorks, unsure of how the other felt, and the only way to deal with it was to get each other very drunk. The fact our mothers were friends made it a tricky situation; if one made a pass at the other, and it was unwanted, would our moms find out and then he or I would get in trouble? No really, “he might tell/she might tell” this was a concern for us. The band had a party down the hall from his room, we did that whole scene, and then he walked me to my car and hugged me goodnight. He said he almost kissed me but was afraid to. I had passed a test of his as well, Beatles or The Stones? The Rolling Stones — duh!
The next morning by the pool, the band asked him where I was because they assumed we had gone to bed together. Apparently that’s how strong our sparks were going off! Ben had to protest we were just old family friends and it wasn’t like that. The girls in the band rolled their eyes, he said. The next evening we were supposed to meet my brother and another mutual friend for drinks at The Standard in Hollywood. In true L.A. fashion, they both flaked. Ben and I were left on our own, and what was supposed to be me taking him around town sort of turned into a date. Dinner at a restaurant by a fireplace, cocktails and all. By the end of the night, we felt like being silly so we went to Jumbo’s Clown Room where I made him tip the woman juggling fire; I was also being obnoxious and kept putting Tina Turner “We Don’t Need Another Hero” on the jukebox for the dancers. It was getting late as we stayed up in hotel room watching Talk Soup. We were like two awkward teenagers, neither one of us was ready to end the evening and yet we were both still too scared to do anything about it. I finally asked permission if I could kiss him, which was met with a big, “OF COURSE”. A stream of admissions how we always loved each other flowed, and it was pretty clear he would be moving to Los Angeles from Boston at this moment. We didn’t know what was going to happen in the future or if there would be any repercussions, but frankly, we weren’t thinking about anything except making up for lost time in those moments. Have you ever had people have said, “when you know, you just know” and you wonder what the hell that vague answer even means? If you are lucky, that moment does come when the sentiment makes total and absolute sense. It is dizzying and unquestionable.
We woke up the next morning at the exact same moment, and the first thing he said was, “you know that I’m going to marry you, don’t you?” and I did.
I don’t know what I’d ever do without him.