Heartbreak led me to a spontaneous marriage

American dramatist Lally Katz.

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When my father, Dan, was in his teens, he left his home in New Jersey and hitchhiked around America. In the South, he did psychedelic drugs and kind of lost his mind. He knew he had to get some discipline in his life, so he returned to New Jersey and joined a karate club.

He befriended my uncle at karate and through him met my mother, Lois. Dad fell in love with her straight away but she didn’t want to ruin their friendship. It took seven years for her to concede.

There was a lot of cocaine in Miami in the late’80s, which was where we were living. Three drug dealers lived in our suburban cul-de-sac. My parents sought a better place to raise my younger brother Mike and me, so my father got a job transfer to Canberra with the computer company he worked for.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the Sweet Valley High teen novels. In Canberra, I had a horse. Dad was super fit and he would run alongside me as I galloped. I would pretend to be the book’s main character, Lizzie, and that Dad was her father, Ned.

Dad was totally nuts, but in a good way. He worried about being fit and was always doing stretches and karate punches in public places. My friends thought he was insane, but to me it was normal.

I always imagined I would marry someone who was into fitness and who also had a great work ethic, like my dad. I couldn’t have considered a man who didn’t have that. I would have looked down on him, because I was so used to my father being a hard worker.

My first kiss happened at a Canberra High disco. I was 13, and dancing with this boy. Prior to orthodontic surgery, I had really buck teeth but somehow we kissed. I kept my eyes open as it was too confronting. I remember the shock of it, so dark and slimy.

My first proper boyfriend was Bernie, who I shared a house with while studying creative arts at Melbourne University. We both liked raspberry lemonade and he would ask me to accompany him to the shop to get some.

We were together for six months or so but in terms of relationships, my teenage years weren’t that neat. They were more about making out at parties.

I was 25 when I went to London to study writing. I was mad for a tall playwright called Dave Florey but he just wanted to be friends. We did end up having a little “thing” and then I went to France with two male friends, which he found weird. While there, I had a fling with a French-Cameroonian guy. I thought telling Dave might make him want me exclusively, but he called it off. I spent the next few months trying to win him back, unsuccessfully.

I met [writer] John Safran in 2010. I was writing a play about this being from Jewish folklore called a golem, but I didn’t know anything about a golem. My agent suggested I meet with John so I could ask him about it. I hadn’t een much of his work and so I watched everything he had done. When we met at a cafe in Balaclava, I was star-struck and couldn’t think of what to ask him.

Before I met John, I had never encountered anyone who had so little interest in talking to me and I was intrigued. Time passed, and the next time I ran into him we laughed a lot and talked about our work. I thought, “This is where I could belong.” 

After a couple of months, John became my boyfriend and I talked him into letting me move into his flat. I felt he was never 100 per cent sure of the relationship, that I’d sort of forced him into it. We never talked about it. Our relationship lasted three years. It remains mysterious to me.

In 2011, I was in New York. One night, I was out walking and felt sad. I went into this psychic’s shop. The psychic told me that I was romantically cursed, a curse I had put on myself. I thought maybe if I kept having psychic readings the curse would be lifted and I could have relationships. I probably spent $2000 on readings. For a while it worked, and then it stopped.

In late 2016 my friend Vivienne and I went to a comedy show in LA, where I’ve lived since 2015. Her boyfriend and his Venezuelan friend, Christian, a post-production editor, came to meet us.

Christian was super-attractive but he looked really young, even though he’s just three years younger than me. He was really sweet and kind of goofy. Early on he said to me, in broken English, “I will never broke your heart.” That was nice to hear. I was tired of heartbreak.

After three months, we got married in Las Vegas. We both love hiking and he does all the housework and cooking. We haven’t been together a year. If it doesn’t work out, so what? We’ll get divorced. But I’m pretty sure it will.

Atlantis by Lally Katz is playing at Belvoir St Theatre, Surry Hills, Sydney, from October 28; belvoir.com.au.

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