IN WHICH THERE’S A HITCH WITH GETTING HITCHED.
After Nikos asked me to marry him, it was all I could do not to scream an ecstatic, “YES!” But something was holding me back — I said I’d consider it.
Nikos was extremely intelligent. Only economic circumstances had prevented him from going to college to study engineering, his passion. But his smarts and curiosity drew him to books, and he was self-educated from reading, reading and reading some more. I’d seen books on many subjects stowed all over his boat, and he even walked around with a paperback stuffed in his back pocket. This rough, calloused fisherman could discuss Hemingway, Tolstoy or Baudelaire! For me, the handsome macho man, smart and ambitious with a soft, creamy center, is the very essence of hot.
So when it came to us getting married, it worked out perfectly that Nikos was down to learn more English, study in New York, and pursue his dream. The good news was, I wouldn’t have to compromise and leave New York — the abiding love of my life, through all the transient, fickle human ones. Human lovers come and go, but New York never disappoints.
However, there was an elephant stomping the roses in our Garden of Eden, something I’d become aware of as early as our second day together.
On our way to dinner, we’d stopped so I could buy sunscreen in a drugstore. When I came outside, Nikos was letting some thrilled kids each take a turn sitting on his motorcycle. His face, his laughter, his pure delight, was as exuberant as that of the kids.
Every single day, in any given situation, Nikos was joking or playing with kids. Teaching them to fish off the dock, splashing them on the beach, playing tricks on them in a restaurant, anywhere. He was just crazy about them. And they about him. We shared more than one meal with a child on his lap, one who’d just wandered over from another table, magnetized.
When he’d shown me the pics of the many nieces and nephews he adored, his face lit up like the Fourth of July. I asked him how many kids he wanted of his own — Nikos shrugged and said, “Several, Moonlight — maybe four or five?”
I love kids, too, but at this point, not even a pilgrimage to Lourdes could get me pregnant. Sure, we could adopt, and I’ve proven more than once I can love any child as my own. But the bigger hurdle is, when it comes to kids, I’ve been there and done that. This phase of my life is about creating art and adventure, not children. Creations compete for time, energy and money. You can’t have it all.
So, ultimately — as much as we were free thinkers and disregarding each other’s age had brought us together — it was this issue, in fact, which threatened to drive us apart.
So now, after Nikos had asked me to marry him, I was faced with a profound dilemma. After he’d go out to his boat in the morning, I’d sit and look out to sea, ruminating on the unfairness of it. We were so deeply, spiritually in love, a love I’d never experienced — no question had I been younger — we’d marry.
For now, it seemed, the only altar I’d be visiting would be a sacrificial one.