Ari proposed in a castle in Ireland. Yes, a castle, a fortress with stone arches and buttresses that offered weekend tours. He was a man of extremes. We were in Paris when he shocked me with the news that we were taking a weekend excursion. And with a snap, we were on Aer Lingus, heading to Dublin. The bastion was down a long and hilly road dotted with sheep and dandelions. We had our choice of any of the twenty-four bedrooms, as he had rented the whole damn thing. We scurried down one hallway to the next, inspecting the Chinese bedroom, the red lacquer bedroom, the yellow English garden bedroom, and so on.
We decided on an ivy wallpapered room that overlooked a leprechaun green meadow. In the evening the butler poured us champagne in front of a roaring fire. Dinner was served at a long oak banquet table with an ensemble of forks and a festival of sparkling wineglasses. (Ari had flown in a chef from Paris. Naturally.) And then, after a sampling of sorbets, he got down and produced the box. A sparkling emerald ring was placed on my left hand. It felt heavy, in every sense of the word. The whole thing was so spectacular, fantastical, and overwhelming. All this for me? Any girl would feel the luck of the Irish and be Riverdancing from the dungeon to the tower, but something was amiss. It was as if I were watching it all on TV and yelling,"You go girl!" to the woman played by me.
When we returned to L.A., we were bombarded with congratulations and happy wishes. And as the weeks went on, Ari started to float dates and honeymoon destinations. I wasn't the girl who bought all the Brides magazines and tore out photos of bouquets and earmarked pages with colored tabs in Martha Stewart books. I found fault with all possible wedding locations. We couldn't do Martha's Vineyard, my sister had been married there; Manhattan was too busy; Hawaii, too far; London, too cold; Napa, too obvious; Wyoming, too anti-Semitic; and everywhere else was just too . . . wrong. It would be juvenile to chalk this behavior up to being a child of divorce; I didn't have Kramer vs. Kramer night terrors and had nothing against the institution of marriage. I just couldn't set a date. Or find a place. Or choose a dress. Like a pacifist in a fighter jet, I couldn't pull the trigger.
I started sleeping fourteen, then sixteen hours a day. I couldn't muster the strength to shower, let alone shave my legs. I stopped returning anyone's calls and ate dry cereal in bed. If someone rang the doorbell, I would scream obscenities out the window like the old lady whose apartment door the police have to finally break down, only to find hundreds of stray dogs eating the remains of Twinkie wrappers.
One Sunday afternoon I finally mustered up my courage. Seated next to Ari on the white linen couch he had presented to me (festooned with a red ribbon) on the day we moved in together, I explained that I had been feeling apathetic and needed to figure out why. Even my rendition of the perfunctory "It's not you, it's me" speech was listless. In fact, I didn't want to be with me; why the hell did he?