To my dear prince *AKA husband of over a year now*,
It started with a castle–just like a fairytale should.
Okay, not exactly a real, medieval castle with spires that pierced the sky around the time Cinderella lost her shoe. But it was our castle. Even better than a “real” one, I’d say.
And it was perfect.
Even before the castle doors, I felt like you were coming into my life on a white horse, scooping me up in my dusty dress and replacing old slippers with glass ones. And in many ways, I was right.
But then, the wedding bells were silenced, the dress was put away, and the routine of every day life commenced–as it should, and does. And I quickly learned about fairytales. I put my dance shoes away and, like many people in the world, I reminded myself that midnight comes and the glass carriages turn into pumpkins at some point. The fairytale, in Disney’s standards, ends almost immediately.
People often say that when the two ride into the sunset, when the grand finale kiss comes, when the sparkles of fairy godmother wands float to the earth and every day life pursues–the book gently closes and “real life” is the cruel teacher that whispers that fairytales don’t exist for long. I’ve read blogs and have heard from people who say marriage isn’t a fairytale, it’s hard work. And struggle. And disappointments from unmet expectations.
And I almost–ALMOST–bought into that. Lots of us do. For example, I almost bought into it the first time I noticed you have a habit of leaving your clothes in piles–in a trail–all the way from the bed to the shower in the morning. Or the way you slam cupboards in the early morning when I can still be sleeping and kiss me a million times on the face despite the fact that mornings equal a grouchy Kayla. Or the way I threw up in front of you when I was dreadfully sick and spent days in bed looking like death. Or the way I have a habit of slipping into an ugly state of REM and like to drool all over my pillow. Or the way I have stared up at you a million times with horrible raccoon eyes as I cry, unconscious of the fact that my makeup is now a blurred mask on my face.
I almost bought into it–that we’re a silly, unfairytale-like couple with stubborn ways and outbursts of crazy. But then today happened.
You called me as I sat by myself, hands bunched together, staring at the clock. I had just heard an hour before that my dad was admitted to the hospital again. He’s getting sicker, Mom said, and it looks bad. I called you a couple times and left voicemails, realizing you’re in class and wouldn’t get it ’til later. And I cried, knees up to my chest. And then, the phone rang. You weren’t asking what’s up or why I called during class. You were calling me from the hospital parking lot–before even calling me back you were at the hospital to see my dad. And just like that, I suddenly had my glass slippers on again.
As I made my way to the hospital, eager to join you, I reflected on how different every fairytale is–even in the movies. No fairytale is exactly alike. It comes with opposition, heartache–discoveries that turn the tides for a time. And with that same train of thought, I realized it’s not that I should lower my expectations of marriage–I need to instead readjust what a fairytale really is.
I don’t agree with the reasoning that fairytales are thoughtless, irresponsible love and marriage is only hard work and mutual agreement to keep on keeping on. Yes, marriage is hard work. A lot of work, actually. But it’s also dancing barefoot in the kitchen. Laughing til we’re breathless as we try to put together a coffee table from Wal-Mart that comes with impossible directions.
Yes, it comes with heated arguments and tears. But it also comes with whispered words of “I love you” right before we fall asleep and embraces that heal the soul.
Yes, marriage comes with you scrubbing pans coated with remnants of burnt egg *that I forgot to soak* and me finding your dirty socks lodged between the headboard and mattress. But it also comes with little love notes on the white board and clean dishes put away after a long day at work.
Yes, it comes with compromise. Plenty of it. But it also comes with those happy silences–the contentment of being in the same room and doing completely separate tasks. It also comes with goofy inside jokes that only we know and the finishing of one another’s sentences *And one another’s entrees during date night*.
Marriage comes with all of those anti-fairytale parts we’ve all heard of–but who’s to say that wasn’t part of the real fairytales all along? Who’s to say the “happily ever after” didn’t entail times of silent treatments, misunderstandings, or holding hair while the princess hovers over a toilet? It DOES include those things.
After thinking over all these things I walked into the hospital room and I saw you sitting by my dad, making him laugh, of course. Because you tend to do that.
And glass slippers, big dress and all *or at least it felt like that* I was reminded of my modern-day fairytale, complete with hospital rooms, dirty laundry, overflowing sinks, and spats over which way to turn during a road trip. It’s also complete with daily laughter, a safe place to run to when the world just hurts, long conversations that I’ve never shared with anyone, and those morning kisses–the annoying, pesky little things that I just couldn’t live without.
There ARE such things as fairytales, regardless of general opinion. Imperfect, challenging, quirky, amazing fairytales that far surpass ballrooms and crowns and knights on fancy horses.
You see, when THAT is the way a fairytale is defined, it’s easy to see that’s us to a tee.
Happily, dysfunctionally, crazily ever after.