It took a move to New York for April Drew to find the Irish man of her dreams, and she’ll never want for a Valentine again thanks to the love her life, John Mooney.
It was across a dark bar in the Bronx back in 2004 that I saw him. Just what the doctor ordered -- a tall, dark, handsome Irishman looking my way.
I was flattered. I had never seen him around our neighborhood. The date was December 23, two days before my second Christmas away from family in Ireland.
I was nervous about that, but about 10:30 p.m. that specific night I had a feeling of hope again. But before I get ahead of myself let me dip a little further back.
I arrived in New York in September 2003. I didn’t go alone. I had met a lad from Kerry a few months before on a night out in Tralee. We dated for a while and then he asked me to move to New York with him that autumn.
It was like a dream. I’d always wanted to try life in America. I loved the glitz and glam I’d only ever seen on the television, so I accepted his offer and in a matter of months we were New York-bound, all loved up and ready for the big challenge set before us.
Little did I know then that the challenge would be the relationship and not the country we were now calling home.
We settled into life in New York pretty quickly. We obtained jobs the first week, found a place to stay and instantly began getting to know the city.
We had a great six months and then after that things went downhill. We were young. He was a year younger. We began arguing a lot. There was trust issues and slowly we began to live separate lives.
We would have broken up sooner if we were living back in Ireland, but because you move country together and know very few people it’s not as easy (or brave) to say goodbye and move out.
It took another year of silly arguments for that to happen. Don’t get me wrong, when it was good it was great but when it was bad it was horrible.
I cried to my best friends back in Ireland, I grumbled to my new friends in New York and on their advice and following my own gut we had several mini-break ups during the last few months. Some more dramatic than others, but we still stayed together.
Early December 2004 was the last straw in our relationship. Two of my best friends were visiting from Ireland for my birthday and everything went belly up on a night out. I won’t go into details, but it turned out my suspicions were correct and that put a nail in the coffin.
Although I was extremely upset (and my friends were there to pick up the pieces) I managed to get over it quickly. My ex and I had harsh words, but both of us knew that our relationship had been dead for a quiet a while.
At this time we were living with members of his family so I decided to leave the apartment and move in with my friend Norma, who, bless her, was there for me the whole way through. My now ex helped me move my stuff into a small apartment on Katonah Avenue on December 23.
I guess I forgave him (or maybe I just realized it was always going to end the way it did.) It’s not that we stayed friends, but we were always polite to each other if we met on the street. It’s funny how you can share so much of your life with one person and then in a matter of days become complete strangers.
I was aware by December 23 that my ex had begun dating a friend (now former) of mine. They were now an item, so Christmas was looking a little hard.
That was until I saw the handsome man in Behan’s Bar on Katonah Avenue.
That night my life changed forever. I’m a firm believer that there is a reason for everything, and I did question during the latter months of my failed relationship why I ever came to New York.
Now I know why. His name is John Mooney, my tall, dark and handsome man from Behan’s.
John had arrived in New York three months before me. Our paths had never crossed and that might have been a good thing until that night.
He came over to talk to my friends Sinead (whom he knew), Jen and I. I remember it like it was yesterday.
He was nice. He had a gentle face, soft features and said the right things.
We parted ways early into the morning after a last drink in the Rambling House. I didn’t want to go out that night. I was feeling miserable, lonely and questioning everything, but boy I’m glad I did now.
I bumped into John again in the Rambling House on Christmas Eve, and there at 3 a.m. on Christmas morning we shared our first kiss.
I also ran into my ex and his new girlfriend that night. That was a little awkward, but it was also nice to introduce John to him. (As I said we remained cordial to one another).
So it turned out to be a rather nice Christmas. An exciting one, probably the most exciting I’ve ever had.
You know the first few weeks wondering if the boy will call, does he like me and all that goes with that. John and I spent the next few months casually dating, having meals out, getting to know one another slowly and it was really great.
Our first official date sometime in February consisted of an afternoon of ice-skating in Central Park and sipping hot chocolate. It was just as I’d imagined it.
Our relationship went from strength to strength over the years, and although like any relationship it went through its ups and downs, we had a very strong foundation that has kept us going through thick and thin.
On November 16 (or was it the 14th -- we can never remember) 2008 and a few weeks before my 30th birthday John booked us into the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan for a weekend to celebrate my birthday.
Little did I know that he was going to ask me to marry him later that night on a horse and carriage ride through Central Park. It was magical. We didn’t tell anyone. We wanted to savor the moment.
The following day we were the first outside the jewelry stores in the Diamond District of the city, and it wasn’t long before I was wearing a fabulous ring. It was all happening. It was simply a fairytale -- my fairytale -- and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
We decided to go home to Kerry (John is from Limerick and I’m from Tralee) to get married the following December. It was a fantastic year of planning.
My mother and bridesmaids, Deirdre and Michelle, were instrumental in helping me do the stuff I couldn’t from New York. Two of my closest friends, Marion and Bernice, were with me when I purchased my dress in R.K. Bridal the January previous in New York. And my little princess Amy, who herself will be getting married this year in California, came to all my fittings. It was great.
December 2009 wasn’t long rolling in. I came home a few weeks earlier than John because unfortunately my grandmother had passed away, but right on schedule John arrived home two weeks before our big day.
Because we didn’t register with the state in Ireland in time we had to appear before a judge in Tralee District Court to prove we were not partaking in a sham marriage. This was scheduled for 10 days before our wedding.
When we arrived at the court house on a drizzly November morning we were told by the court clerk that one other couple would be joining us to see the judge. No problem we thought.
That was until I saw who the other couple was. Yes, you guessed right. It was my ex and his then fiancée (the same girl from New York). What are the chances, right?
It was awkward to say the least. But we chatted for the half hour or so while the four of us waited to see the judge.
It really was like a scene from a movie. I hadn’t seen them in about four years. They moved home about a year after getting together and there they were, ready to take the plunge.
It was ironic really because my ex told me on a few occasions he never wanted to get married or have kids. He is now married with three kids.
I guess there is someone out there for all of us, and I’m very grateful every day to him for introducing me to New York and allowing me to meet the man of my dreams, the man I proceeded to marry on the happiest day of my life, Saturday, December 5, 2009.
We are now happily married, and anyone who is familiar with this column knows we have two beautiful, healthy children (two and 11-months) whom we cherish with all our hearts.
I love you John Mooney and thank God every day for that night in Behan’s many moons ago. I hope we will have a lifetime of happiness and when the going gets tough, we will come out the other end.
Happy Valentine’s Day, New York!