My husband and I were out with friends at El Carmen on 3rd Street recently. As we sat at the table drinking jalapeño margaritas, the couple we were with asked us the question everybody asks.
“Why did you elope?” the woman wanted to know. “What made you decide to get married so quickly?”
Alex and I started to give our stock answers. We cited momentary insanity. We talked about how everyone at the time assumed I was pregnant. We talked about how everything moved quickly with us. In short, we deflected. Because the truth is, we didn’t have an answer.
Alex and I met in 2008. He was 23. I was 24. Halfway through our first date, he told me he’d never been this comfortable around someone else. The next morning when I woke up, I missed him. He called me that day, asking to see me again, telling me he couldn’t stay away.
After that, we rarely spent an evening apart. We often talked throughout the day, sending emails at work, arranging the next time we would see each other. Soon, he stopped going home to his place at all.
I laughed louder, harder and deeper with him than I ever had before. I showed him exactly who I was, even the parts I normally kept to myself, and when I did, I wasn’t met with apprehension or dismay. I was always made to feel as if I were exactly the person he wanted me to be.
I found myself capable of being a better person around him and a better person to him. It is immensely rewarding to know that you are good for someone, and I could see, in a short period, that I was good for him.
And perhaps more compelling than anything else, we had a lot of fun together.
Within two months, he moved into my apartment. Within three, we started talking about the future. Marriage. Children. A home.
My apartment at the time — our apartment — sat high on a hill in West Hollywood just under Sunset Boulevard. Light shone through the oversized windows. I think that is part of the reason why my memories of that time feel so bright. But also, I felt electric.
So when he started jokingly asking me to marry him, I started jokingly saying yes.
And when he got serious and looked at me and said, “You’d marry me right now?” I had no other answer but, “Of course.”
Of course, I would marry this person who brought me such joy. Of course, I knew that I would spend the rest of my life with him.
I never wanted a big wedding. I never wanted to wear a white dress or throw a bouquet. And when we took that out of it, when we realized we wanted a marriage more than we wanted a wedding, what was stopping us?
Why couldn’t we do it that Friday night?
We called an officiant. He was free that Friday night at 9. We asked him to meet us at the top of Mulholland Drive just east of Coldwater. We wanted to look out onto the bright lights of the city.
We showed up and parked our car at the Barbara A. Fine Overlook. The officiant met us and we walked over to the cliff. We had brought along my best friend as a witness. Halfway through the ceremony, parking enforcement started to write us a ticket. It will surprise no Angeleno that the Los Angeles Parking Violations Bureau does not care if you just need another minute to finish getting married; the officers are inclined to fine you anyway. Somehow, my friend managed to hold off the ticket writer as Alex and I read our vows and were pronounced husband and wife. My friend snapped a picture of us crossing the road back to our car, Alex’s arms around me, me turning back to face him.
We drove home and Alex carried me over the threshold. We had known each other only four months.
We told our families shortly afterward, and they had the reactions you’d expect families to have. They dealt with it in their own ways. But not one of them questioned whom we’d chosen to elope with. The “who” has always made sense. And the “what,” “where” and “how” are easy to explain. It is the “why” that I still find myself, almost five years later, struggling to put into words.
Why did I elope with my husband after knowing him for only four months? I wish I could show people the picture of the two of us that night and have them feel what I felt. But it’s just a picture. It can only capture how things looked, not how they felt. So I remain unable to answer the question.
All I can say is that when I thought of marrying him, my heart said, “Of course.”
Taylor Jenkins Reid’s first novel, “Forever, Interrupted,” was published in July by Simon & Schuster, and her second book, " After I Do,” will come out in summer.