I grew up in New York and had always envisioned myself as a lifelong New Yorker, used to four seasons and talking fast. I was planning on attending law school in Boston and staying on the East Coast, but I was taken off the waiting list at UCLA just a few weeks before the school year was scheduled to begin. It was awfully late to move cross-country, but the opportunity to study entertainment law in the heart of the industry and, just as important, spend three whole years without snow, was just too compelling.
“But you’ll be so far away,” my parents said to me, their only daughter.
“It will only be three years, then I’ll be home,” I promised. “I will come back.”
In the summer before my third year of law school, I took an internship in the legal department at the Writers Guild. I loved the work, I enjoyed the staff, and I got to spend time with fabulous writers I had always admired.
While getting some documents off the printer one day, I walked into a tour one of our lawyers, Ralph, was giving to Scott, a lawyer from the Directors Guild, before they went to lunch. (They were longtime friends.). Ralph introduced us, I made a joke about the WGA/DGA rivalry (“Don’t show the secret papers”), and continued with my work. I went downstairs to get a file from another department and came across the pair of them once more. I made another joke (“I’m not twins, it’s me again”) and thought nothing more of it.
That afternoon, Ralph called me into his office. He said Scott wanted to take me to lunch. (Much later, I learned Scott had asked Ralph to find out discreetly if I was available, and this was Ralph’s form of “discretion.”) The next day, Scott and I went to the Beverly Center for lunch.
“Where are you from?” one of us asked. “New York.” “Where in New York?” “Long Island.” “Where on Long Island?” Which is how we learned we had grown up 10 miles apart.
He had lived in Los Angeles since going to law school at UCLA, graduating a few years earlier. I told him I’d be moving back to New York at the end of the school year. “OK,” he said.
We started dating, and he came to New York to attend my brother’s wedding that November because, after all, I needed a date. But he came on the condition that I meet his parents in Florida at Christmas. I was a little freaked out since (1.) we had only been dating a couple of months, so meeting his parents seemed quick, and (2.) I’d been very clear that I was going back to New York at the end of the school year. I explained once again. “OK,” he said, “I understand.” I met his parents.
During my last semester, he suggested I move in with him to save money. “OK,” I said, “but I want to be clear: This is good for now, but I’m moving back to New York in June.” “OK,” he said.
Near the end of the school year, I had not yet applied for jobs, and I started making plans to take the bar. “I have an idea,” he said. “Since you want to practice entertainment law, it’s probably smart to take the bar in California as well as New York, and since you’re learning California law right now, take the California bar first.” I said I would do that and then take what I called the “obligatory” post-law school European vacation I’d always dreamed of before going back to New York to study for that bar.
I took the three-day bar exam in Glendale, and he was waiting for me at the end of each day. He was concerned I didn’t study enough, or worry enough (some believe worry compels more study). I said I was comfortable with my level of study, but appreciated his concern.
The day after I finished the bar, I visited the WGA to say goodbye to my co-workers with whom I had worked for over a year, and while I was sitting there, I learned there was a need to fill in for a staff member who had gotten sick on vacation and would be out for a couple of months. The supervisor looked at me, “You can do it.”
I agreed to delay my L.A. departure, and postpone my European vacation for a bit. I calculated that I would still have plenty of time to prepare for the New York bar.
That night, at home, Scott and I sat down to watch a movie (Alfred Hitchcock’s “I Confess”). “Hold on,” he said, “I went to the store and got some snacks to celebrate the bar.”
He returned with a bag of potato chips, candy and Cracker Jack. “Ooh, Cracker Jack. I haven’t had that in a while,” I said, and reached for the box. And I did what every human does when opening a box of Cracker Jack — I looked for the prize. But there was no prize, only a small pad of Post-It notes, with a word on each piece of paper, except the last one.
The slips of paper read: I. Just. Wanted. To. Tell. You. How. Much. I. Love. You. And. Ask. You. A. Question: Will you marry me?
And I am not kidding, my very first thought was: “Crap, I’m never going back to New York.”
The author is an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles, and has been married for 33 years. She and her husband have two grown sons.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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