Once Upon A Time ...

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Riddle me this- why are there so many “once upon a time…”s but an alarming scarcity of “… and they lived happily ever after”s? Back in Pre-K, those fairy tales were the talk of the town, the belle of the ball, and definitely the moon among the stars. We would curl up in bed after a much-deserved shower and filling dinner and listen to our mommy or daddy retell the story of how Cinderella and Prince Charming overcame evil obstacles to claim their love, how beauty wasn’t skin deep when it came to Belle and her Beast, and how taking the biggest leap of faith earned Ariel the man of her dreams. When the door was left ajar and the night light shone softly, dreams of a handsome prince sweeping us off our feet and beautiful damsels in distress- roles which girls readily adopted- would paint our sleeping souls, unconsciously instilling these very same hopes and expectations into the men that would enter our lives.

So, what went wrong? How did we go from daydreaming about how we would lock eyes from across the room with our future husband, spend hours talking about nothing and still feel like we’re on top of the world, and take over a year planning our wedding down to the thread count of the tablecloths to… considering being friends with benefits so as to avoid the “smothering” commitment, weighing the pros and cons of breaking up now or in a month, and insisting that a break in between our college years would provide essential improvements and blessings for both individuals in the short and long run?

That’s the crossroads in my life that I have stumbled upon. When someone who you have exposed so much of yourself to, who you’ve stood up for time and time again, who you’ve incessantly seen as the person to bring meaning to the phrases “always and forever”, “prince charming”, and those glorious words “they lived happily ever after” concedes that, in reality, there’s an aspect of you that other girls eternally have and always will outshine you in, somehow the ball gown and glass slippers don’t seem so special anymore, so utterly breath-taking. The sparkle of the glass slipper transforms to a dull haze, a neighbor you’ve talked to a few times enters wearing the same exact gown, and the diamond earrings you were donning turn out to be really deceiving and really cheap replicas. All this, of course, after you’ve questioned whether or not the shoe really was your size and whether or not you deserved to wear such a marvelous dress in the first place; after all, you don’t seem to do it justice. Am I the girl Prince Charming has been waiting all night to dance with, or did my mom bribe him with a fat rooster and ripe tomatoes so I can feel like the real Cinderella for once in my life?

Nevertheless, a snapshot of the events that led up to this division in my path is vital so, without further ado, here is my “once upon a time…”:

Once upon a time, we met in a high school French class. Certainly, no locking glances from across the room occurred or even thoughts of a future together; just a glance, passing thought in regards to each other’s appearance or personality, and back to conjugating irregular verbs.

Once upon a time, the news of our newfound relationship sent waves, not ripples, in my friendships with my closest friends. Eager to ruin yet another of my chances at love, they made sure to fabricate tall tales about how they had seen him being unfaithful; given the opportunity to prove their argument and thus put an end to our fledgling connection, they never came through, instead insulting me, my choices, and my reasoning. The entire drama that ensued brought us eons closer together, while it brought a fated end to my relationship with the girls I had considered my friends for four years.

Once upon a time, he came over to my house, only to be met with over-protective attitudes from my stepdad and strict warnings from my mother. The mere fact that it took us over an hour to order one large pizza online speaks for itself.

Once upon a time, he carried me across a stretch of grass the same way a newlywed groom carries his glowing bride across the threshold of their honeymoon suite. Distinct hues of orange and red from the gradually setting sun adorned the sky, ameliorating the sublime tinge of romance in the air. He set me down on the rear hood of his car, my legs wrapped around his waist, hands outstretched around his neck, and lips blissfully embracing his.

Once upon a time, we reclined in the back seat of his car, trying to enjoy the lone hour we had together for all it was worth. We had planned to walk around an outside mall, passing by shoppes and possibly stopping for ice cream, but when he asked what I wanted to do somehow the only mental image I had was of exactly what we were doing. So we stayed; we stayed and listened to love songs on my iPod which I would replay over and over after we left the parking lot. We stayed and talked about the newest disagreement we were debating, just as we did every time there was a difference of opinion. We stayed and listened to our heartbeats thump to the rhythm of the current tune drifting through our secluded atmosphere.

Once upon a time, we spent the duration of an entire movie in a completely deserted movie theater, save for the occasional abandoned soda in the corner and fallen kernels beneath our feet. The plot of the movie was irrelevant, seeing as we were euphoric in our own little world, cuddling and kissing nearly the entire time. When the credits began rolling, I decided it’d be a nice contrast to see what it would feel like if I was his height so I stood on the hand rest in the previous row, finally meeting his eyes straight on; this new perspective predictably sent a new wave of kisses and embraces which would have never ceased had his self-control and awareness not kicked in.

Once upon a time, we had a picture-perfect Kodak moment as we stood outside a family friend’s door where we had spent close to two hours watching Titanic since he had never seen the timeless classic. While inside, all physical contact other than holding hands and sitting close together was forbidden due to the heavy parental authority in our presence. Taking advantage of the full two minutes I had to say goodbye outside their front door, I wrapped my arms around his neck and gave him the prolonged, passionate kiss I had waited all week to deliver. The overwhelming fanfare of plummeting raindrops was the only sound that enveloped us aside from our intertwining tongues and fusing lips.

Twice upon a time, I cried on his shoulder and he dried my tears away. Whether it was from physical or emotional pain, he made damn sure I didn’t feel a tinge of guilt for soaking his skin with my flowing tears; on the contrary, he kissed my pain away, assuring me with loving whispers that there was no need to cry and that everything would be alright, the one word answer that he ironically deplored me using as a legitimate response.

Once upon a time, he genuinely stood up for me, insisting that I deserved a high level of respect, first for being a woman and second for being his girlfriend and thus not a girl other guys could afford to hit on or try their luck with. I don’t think he ever understood why it was so hard for me to stand up and defend myself when people insulted me which is naturally understandable; there will always be aspects on which mutual empathy will be absent. The simple fact that my own “friends” had been the source of derision and disrespect in the passing of all the years prior to meeting him was unquestionably a key player in my passive attitude toward any form of contempt or dishonor from others. Nevertheless, it was this pivotal disagreement that made me realize the eternal security and shelter I would always find in his arms.
This is the “between” I was referring to in the beginning, where we wait to discover if it will develop into a “… happily ever after” or just another false hope and dead end. In no way do my hopes for the future hinder my grasp on the present, but they do elicit the same feelings I experienced when I was a little girl, listening to my mom recounting whichever fairy tale was in rotation that night for the umpteenth time, hoping that one day I’d have a similar story of my own to tell. The only thing I know for certain is that nothing is for certain and that living your life to the fullest is your best bet at making your life worthwhile… even if others have different interpretations of how to go about achieving this.
Once upon a time, he claimed he was capable of reading me like an open book from the first conversation we had. He knew how much I liked him- it was written all over my face-, he knew when I fell in love with him- it was so obvious-, he knew when I was crying- the strained silence and pained tone gave it away-, he knew when I was lying- although he would point it out only half the time-, and he knew how I felt about him- even when I, myself, couldn’t phrase it into an intelligible string of words. He also claims he knows the ending of the fairy tale, our fairy tale, which goes a little something along the famed lines of “…and they lived happily ever after.”





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