We met at a bar on Bedford street with a red glow. Young business guys swooned at the bar in knock-off Ferragamo ties. Alex pointed to this detail and sardonically mocked the faux romance. I immediately liked his astute observations, A few glasses of wine turned the mood of reserved professionalism towards giddy laughter. And then standing on the street corner he kissed me - a kiss so charged that when we parted I had walked four blocks before I realized I was heading in the opposite direction of my apartment.
The relationship got serious quickly.
At the time, some of my friends were starting to settle down; a few were even having their first child. These were the friends who started giving me those raised eyebrow looks that said: "When are you going to start?" My grandmother, especially wanted to know when she was going to be able to give me her diamond ring, the one given to her by my grandfather when she was only twenty-three, the one intended to be my engagement ring.
So I told myself that it was time. Time to give myself over to the inelectable pull of domesticity, time to join my peers in the next phase of life, time to settle on someone and commit and build a life together. But even more than that, it was time to do something about that subtle timeless urge buried somewhere in the connective tissue between my heart, brain and my gut. With a start, I now understood: I wanted to become a mother. I, too, wanted to rub my cheek along the top of a baby's fuzzy sweet smelling head, to hold a helpless child close, to whisper I "I love you."
I told Alex I loved him after only a month. He said he loved me too. I started getting excited about the future; almost immediately, I began to romanticize our wedding, our baby, our life as a family. Everything about him seemed right, like I was making a responsible--and yes, I'll admit it--socially acceptable choice. He was well-educated, ambitious, and tall. He had a wonderful self- deprecating sense of humor: once had sent out a bachelor holiday e-card greeting with a picture of a wanting dread locked Caribbean siren on her knees covered in sand on the beach. But where her face should have been, he had photo-shopped a picture of his own.
My friend and parents liked him. And I'll go even farther: I liked the attention that I got because I was "in love." One day at a cocktail party, a family friend put her hand on my shoulder and said: "If he makes you laugh then you should marry him." He did make me laugh, so he became the one with whom I decided I would begin the next phase. It was the route my parents had taken, and the one I thought I had to take as well to become a real adult.
The only problem was that Alex and I weren't really in love. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was much more in love with the shiny fantasy of our future than the man himself: the way he made me feel every day. The more I got to know him, the more I realized that the differences in the way we interacted with the world were not complimentary. His once-charming social anxiety began to block us from a certain level of intimacy that I needed to feel really loved and be able to commit to our relationship.