Two years earlier, Lars had been in a horrific car accident. He miraculously survived, although he spent one month in a coma and suffered short-term memory loss—and lost one of his legs. Before the accident, Lars had had a brief marriage, but he defined himself through his career. After the accident, things changed. “He wanted someone to love and take care of,” says his friend Mike Ferguson. Lars was instantly attracted to Sophie, but she was busy dating one of her usual string of bad boys. “I thought Lars was a freak because he kept talking about the future,” she says. But then, one hungover morning, Sophie woke up thinking about Lars. She called him and they began dating seriously.
At three months, Lars broached the topic of kids.
“It was his idea,” she says, a few weeks after the party, sitting in a big armchair, burping her son in the house they are living in temporarily in Connecticut. “I was like, I’ll wait for my last egg to drop.”
Sophie’s OB/GYN told her that the challenge at her age would be keeping the pregnancy. She should start trying as soon as possible. The couple got more relaxed about birth control. A month later, she was pregnant.
“It wasn’t like ‘Let’s try tonight,’ ” she says. “I didn’t even know I was ovulating.”
At the time, Sophie was still living with her roommate; she and Lars were commuting back and forth from New York to Connecticut. “I didn’t have time to plan a wedding. I was having a baby!” says Sophie.
They finally decided to make it official in time for a fancy society party that Lars’s mother threw them at her family home in La Jolla, California. The week before, the couple hired a horse and buggy to take them to a remote spot in Central Park. Under a blossoming cherry tree, with Sophie in her sixth month, her roommate performed the ceremony. “I was relieved,” says Sophie. “I guess I had a little catch-up to do.”
"IT WAS GETTING LONELY."
In front of a tiny television perched on a dresser, Scott, a 45-year-old window dresser with a long ponytail, snuggles on a sofabed with his daughters, Coco, 2, and Rubyrose, 5, watching cartoons in their East Village walk-up. In the adjacent kitchen, Erica, his wife, slips a frozen pizza into the oven.
“Before him, my longest relationship lasted six months, and it was always with some unavailable guy who lived in Switzerland or L.A.,” she says, leaning against the counter.
Erica, a freelance video director, wears loose jeans, and her hair is pulled back casually. “I was always the eternally single girl,” she says. She hands a slice of pizza to her older daughter. “I wanted to have kids, but that wasn’t my overwhelming motive to get married,” she says, taking a seat on the floor.
In the late nineties, the two ended up living blocks from each other in the East Village. Scott, who grew up in Fresno, was painting murals in a nightclub and playing in a punk band. Erica had a crush from afar. “He was the long-haired guy who I had to run away from because he was so hot,” she says. “It was that weird shy-schoolgirl thing, like you can’t talk, and you think I gotta get out of here.”
The two started to say “hi” whenever they ran into each other, but nothing happened until one day in the fall of 1999, when Erica ran into a girlfriend by chance at Benny’s Burritos on East 5th Street. The friend was sitting with Scott. It turned out that he was breaking up with her. “She didn’t want a relationship and I sort of did,” says Scott. A few weeks later, Erica ran into Scott at CBGB, they flirted, and Scott asked her out.
Erica says she knew she was going to marry him. Her two previous relationships had ended badly. “It was getting lonely,” she says.
At first, Erica tried to take it slow with Scott, seeing him only once a week. But when she went away on a trip, Scott stayed at her apartment. “When I came back, he started to stay with me every night,” she says.
“Once it started, it was a snowball,” says Scott.
Then, a few months in, some fantasy house hunting in Delancey, New York, turned real when they found an old farmhouse.
“The Realtor said, ‘It sounds like you want to make an offer,’ ” says Erica.
“I said, ‘We do,’ ” says Scott. A month later, Scott was settling into bed when he found a denim heart-shaped pillow with the words WILL YOU MARRY ME? embroidered on it.