Imagine your dream person, the perfect spouse. You’ve got a few non-negotiables, most likely. Maybe she has to be a lesbian, a Catholic and a non-smoker. [Author’s note: I’m single! Lesbian Catholic non-smokers, get at me!] But after a few bad relationships or after being single for too long, you start to relax your standards a bit. Maybe they don’t have to be Catholic; maybe they can just be religious. Or maybe, in spite of yourself, you start to get a little more comfortable around cigarette smoke.
“One of the reasons I knew Erica was the one almost instantly is that she’s the person I would dream about, but I never thought could exist. She’s literally everything I’ve always wanted in a single person,” Tiffany, 30, says.
Tiffany, an attorney originally from New Jersey, was still in law school when a friend told her about Erica. “I ended up spending a lot of time together with this couple as the third wheel. We used to joke about me being their child, because you spend a lot of time studying for hours and hours and hours in law school. I was the person who was always single or in a bad relationship. They were tired of seeing me embarrassed… they were trying to think of someone they knew would be a good match for me, and they thought of Erica. And they were like, ‘Oh, I have this friend, but she’s not single.’ It became something we joked about for years. Right before the couple decided to move to the West Coast, they met up with Erica and she was actually single, and they introduced us.”
They had an idea pretty quick that they were a good match, evidenced by their first date in their adopted hometown, New York City. It was an all-night, all-day affair that last for a solid 24 hours. “We went to dinner, but that was only the first stop,” explains Erica, 27, a model.
Tiffany continues, “We went to a rooftop bar. And then where did we go next? …I think we went to your place and we were up all night talking.”
“And drinking wine,” Erica adds.
“And drinking wine. Then I went back to my friend’s place to take a shower, and then we went to breakfast,” Tiffany says.
Erica picks it up. “Then we went to one of those restaurants on the pier, on the Hudson River. Then we went to coffee—,” she stops to think, “and then we went to dinner!”
Boom. Before they knew it, 24 hours had zipped by.
“I’m not a phone person,” Tiffany says, “and our first conversation lasted for five hours. We only ended because we thought, ‘Oh, wow, it’s that late. We should go to bed!’ My friend who introduced us was like, ‘Five hours? You? That’s crazy.’”
“A lot of people tell us we’re crazy,” Erica laughs.
A little crazy, yes, but also crazy in love. Marriage seemed like a logical next step for these New Yorkers. The legalization of same-sex marriage in New York in 2011 had a profound effect on Tiffany. “I wasn’t even living in New York at the time,” she says. “But nationally it was such a big deal that it kind of changed my perception. When one state has gay marriage, that’s one thing. But when it came to New York it was like, ‘I want to date this person and get married.’ It’s an option that wasn’t available before.”
So on the rooftop of a penthouse loft on a warm September evening in New York the two were married. “It was outdoors, the weather was perfect, the sun set nicely,” Erica gushes. “It was beautiful. We wanted it to be special and private, so it was us, our son who was six at the time, and the couple who introduced us as our witnesses.”
Speaking of their son, he appears to be the most adorable, high-achieving kid in New York. It’s pretty easy to get Erica going on this multi-talented little guy: “He’s awesome. He plays sports, he fences, he plays chess, he plays baseball, he plays piano…” It sounds like she could keep going. “We’re just like any loving family that wants the best for their kids and has their best interests at heart.”
Tiffany adds, “We go to parent-teacher conferences, we go to his fencing matches, we go to his baseball games.”
“Sometimes I forget that we’re two mothers, actually,” Erica says.
Tiffany laughs, “And he forgets too!”
Fortunately, he hasn’t had to deal with anyone not recognizing his moms as a legitimately married couple. “It could partly be because of his age,” says Tiffany. “Another part could be because of where we live. We always want to live in a place where you have a lot of diversity, so he won’t be the only child with same-sex parents. Whatever he’s doing, we always do it together. He understands love, and I think that’s what kids need to understand.”
If there’s anyone who understands love, it’s these two. Erica offers a simple, but profound, explanation of what marriage means to her: “There’s always someone there. That uncertainty you have as a single person is no longer there. My life is complete. I’m happy.” She pauses thoughtfully. “Before Tiffany, I couldn’t really picture my future. There was always something missing. And now, I feel comfortable dreaming and fantasizing about a future because she’s in it. I’m just excited about life and growing as a family and what the future holds.”
When asked the same question, Tiffany is a little more lawyerly at first. “From a legal perspective, it means that if something were to happen to me, legally she has to be taken care of. She has to be allowed to visit the hospital and she has to be allowed to make decisions. I know that because we’re married and it’s legally recognized, she’ll always be looked at as my partner.” But then, she loosens up a little. “From an everyday perspective, she’s the person that’s always going to be there. If we have a bad day she’s always going to be there to make me feel better.”
For Tiffany, it’s not just about feelings. It’s also about taking chances. “When you’re in a relationship and you’re dating someone, sometimes you don’t want to go off the cliff because you don’t know if the person will be jumping with you. But when you’re married, you can do that all you want, because she’s always there. I never have to worry about shielding myself or shielding my feelings because I know she feels the same exact way. I like that freedom to be able to just live.”
Plus, she says, “If I want to send her flowers, if I want to call her every five minutes, I can do that, because we’re married and we made a commitment to each other. I know we both feel the same way.”
One gets the impression that Erica receives a lot of flowers.
So, picture the cutest couple you know. Now, think of the funniest couple you know. Finally, picture the strongest couple. Roll all those girls up into one Super Couple, and you might end up with folks like Erica and Tiffany.
“Why’d you marry me?” Tiffany jokes.
Erica replies, slyly, “Because you asked!”