Eventually, I replaced the Shakespearean tragedy with a Hollywood movie, "love at first sight" moment that I sometimes, even to this day, find hard to believe. Sixteen years ago I met my husband, Jason, in a smoky, dimly lit bar thanks to an introduction by Paul Rudd, who was just starting his acting career. Jason had just returned from a summer at Oxford University where he studied classical theater with the Juilliard School, and Jason and Paul became close friends. Paul convinced Jason to make the move from New York to Los Angeles to pursue acting and he had been in Los Angeles exactly two weeks the night I met him. Jason was a brooding artist, handsome, and he was fluent in French. I thought he was out of my league, not just because of the sexy foreign language thing, not to mention the Oxford thing, but because I didn't believe at the time that I might actually fall in love with someone who would not only love me back but catch me when I fell and give me a hand so that I could get up.
Up until meeting Jason, I kept trying to engage in love to please the other person. After a particularly one-sided romance with a much older man who gave me a jar of Dijon mustard for my twenty-third birthday, and the period of celibacy and selfsearching that ensued, by my twenty-fifth birthday I was ready to be in a relationship again. My dear friend and roommate, Jill, and I did an improvised "rain dance" in our kitchen, only we wanted it to rain boyfriends for each of us. We were very specific with our wishes: the guys had to be romantic, generous, enlightened, mature, smart, respectful, and nice. Which, at the time, seemed like a tall order, considering that my last boyfriend, the Dijon-giver, broke up with me on Valentine's Day. Within a week after that dance, I walked into that smoky bar with a sense of peace and joy, and the proverbial lightning strike happened the moment I met Jason. I remember saying to Jill, "I'm going to marry that guy," like it was yesterday. The words flew out of my mouth as easy as "I'll have another drink." I didn't intellectualize the thought, I just felt it, and then I declared it. It was a feeling that was born out of a primal instinct, a knowledge that the potential for love was in the room and with my potential life partner.
Jason and I didn't rush into a wedding, by any stretch. It took us about eight years, and a lot of back-and-forth, to finally make that commitment. By that point, all my years as a brides- maid, standing in taffeta, dreaming of the day where I would hear Corinthians, felt like someone else's life rather than my own. That girl was long gone, and this new L.A. woman, who had looked for love in all the wrong places, was independent, somewhat confident, and certainly didn't feel like she needed a marriage license to be loved. The truth was, I was terrified to commit on that level, on a government level, on a level that if I ever wanted to get out, I would need a lawyer, not just some cash in the bank and my car.