On Love: ‘She was just so much fun, like a breath of fresh air’
By Ellen McCarthy,
When Mary Baker stops to think about it, there seem to be a million reasons she shouldn’t have ended up marrying Nicole Mezlo.
To start, Baker had never dated women before. The two were colleagues and, technically, Mezlo was her superior. Plus, Mezlo had a girlfriend when they met.
Baker was hired at the public relations firm where Mezlo worked in January 2008. They were placed on the same team and seemed to share the same sarcastic sense of humor.
Within weeks, Baker found herself developing a crush on Mezlo, which was something of a surprise even to her, as she had previously been attracted only to men.
“I remember having a conversation with my mother where I was like, ‘So, there’s this girl at work and I think I might like her — really like her, not just as friends,’ ” Baker recalls. “I think it was her whole aura. There was this instinctual attraction, like, ‘I want to know more about her.’ ”
Mezlo was glad for Baker’s presence in the office — “She was just so much fun, like a breath of fresh air,” — but never thought of her romantically. Mezlo was five years into a long-distance relationship that seemed to be at a dead end, although she wasn’t quite ready to end things with her girlfriend in Miami.
The two developed an easy, joking office rapport. Baker began angling for ways to hang out with Mezlo after-hours. Finally, she persuaded Mezlo to go shopping with her on a weekend. Mezlo mentioned her girlfriend as they wandered through Tysons Corner Center, but the shopping led to dinner, where it became clear how much they made each other laugh.
A couple of weeks later, the two went to dinner in Cleveland Park and back to Mezlo’s apartment to watch movies. For the first time, Mezlo began to feel something more than friendship. “I just really liked her and liked hanging out with her,” Mezlo says. “Even when there was silence and quiet, it was never awkward.”
They stayed up the whole night and made plans to do it again the next weekend. That time, as they walked to a restaurant near U Street, Mezlo grabbed Baker’s hand. Neither said a word about it, but Baker didn’t pull away. Again, they talked until dawn.
Two days later, Mezlo walked Baker to the Metro after work. Baker began subtly asking what was happening. “If things were different, we would be different,” Mezlo responded.
They kissed, and Baker told Mezlo she was interested but that she didn’t want to proceed as long as Mezlo was in a relationship. A few days later, Mezlo officially ended it with her girlfriend.
The two fell into an easy routine, cooking dinner, watching “Golden Girls” reruns and spending nights at each other’s apartments. “It just felt like we were so alike, and I felt like I finally found someone who could be content doing what I want to do, which was watching movies and going out to dinner and going to Paint Your Own Pottery or the Kennedy Center,” Baker says. “From the outset, it wasn’t really dating so much as it was a really committed relationship.”
Mezlo worried at first that she was moving on too soon and wanted to be sure it was actually Baker she was into, not just the idea of a girlfriend who lived nearby. “But I just really felt it. I’m someone who relies on my gut a lot, and my gut was saying: ‘It isn’t just that I want somebody. I really want to be with her.’ ”
Baker is open, emotional and extroverted; Mezlo is a logical introvert who holds her cards close to her vest. But the two understood one another as no one had before, and each brought a sense of fun and levity to everything they did together.
Ten months into their relationship, they moved in together. And after a year of happy cohabitation, Baker began to talk about marriage. Mezlo was reluctant and considered it an outdated institution. “To me it was like: ‘Why do we need to do that? I already feel married to you. I’m already committed to you,’ ” says Mezlo, now 35.
But Baker had always envisioned herself married someday, especially if they were going to have kids.
Mezlo came around to Baker’s reasoning, and in the spring of 2011 surprised her with a trip to New York to design an engagement ring. When the ring arrived that April, she planted the box on the floor of their home and screamed as if she’d seen a bug, so that Baker would come running. Two weeks later Baker, now 30, turned the tables and duplicated the proposal to Mezlo, who fell for her own trick.
“We always say, ‘It’s us against the world,’ and I really feel like that,” Mezlo says. “When everybody else is not paying attention or gone or otherwise indisposed, she’s there.”
On Sept. 29, they exchanged vows in the garden of Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel in Taneytown, Md. At the reception, a montage of love scenes from movies was projected onto a wall, and the couple named their tables after Hollywood legends, including Clark Gable and Elizabeth Taylor.
Baker wore a long white dress, and Mezlo wore a short black one. On their wedding program, they included a quote by Robert Fulghum: “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutual weirdness and call it love.”