Someone asked me, ”What is your favorite love story?” I paused, for maybe a moment, to think of all the pretend little places my mind has wandered over the years. I grew up hearing about worlds and places where magical things happened, in stories that ended with “happily ever afters.”
I learned of a fair young girl named Snow who accepted a poisoned apple from the hands of a stranger. I watched a peasant girl in tattered clothes do her chores with animals then go to a royal ball and meet her prince. I read about a girl from France with a soft voice and a proclivity for literature who fell in love with a beast in a mansion filled with talking antiques.
I was raised to believe in magic, fairy tales, and true love. These stories were the influences that were intended to mold my mind; the things that were created to stir my imagination. I had examples in Pixar movies and old books that were supposed to prepare me for all life could possibly throw at me. Granted, most of the dragons in my life were people with bad intentions, but each story helped to build a stronger version of myself; even if it was just while I was reading.
But the only apples I grew up with lacked any trace of coma-inducing poisons. The only people who helped me cook or clean were my family. The only beasts in my life resided in my own head. There was no magic, just illusions. There were no fairies, no evil villains. The only “tales” in my life were on animals. True love became a thing people only talked about and was quickly replaced by desperation, lust, and infatuation; coupled with dating apps and friend requests. It was no longer something that would happen naturally or over time. I grew up with magic, but once I matured, the only magic I knew was left behind in the books of my youth.
Until I met him.
It was then that everything changed.
All of a sudden, I feel magic in all the once boring places where my beasts previously nested. My dim corners and vacant spaces are suddenly vivified and occupied with thoughts of him… Thoughts of his touch… Thoughts of his kiss… The colors I once saw as faded and dull are suddenly blinding and glistening. The people I once viewed as mundane are suddenly more stimulating. My dreary and monotonous outlook on life has become more optimistic and spirited. My world has become more exciting and exhilarating than ever before.
The books always cautioned about tragedy and complications. That, I think, is the only part that I’ve found incorrect. With him, the man I never thought I would find, there is no tragedy that awaits me; no life-altering complications are in the distance. I truly do feel all of the tragedies and villains have been had and conquered: that maybe this is what “happily ever after” looks like.
Overall, the books have taught me well. They taught me about honor, integrity, courage, and selflessness. They taught me to appreciate and love my friends. Some of the books even instilled wit and problem-solving in me, two things I pride myself on as an adult. The one thing they neglected to teach me? How to proceed once you find true love. They never explained how to enjoy the happiness. They merely described that it would be “ever after.”
So now, here are my hopes.
I hope that if I ever try to rush through my story, someone will slow me back down. I hope that if I struggle along the way, someone will be kind enough to guide me. I hope the people in my life will remind me to relish in my own fairy tale, instead of overthinking and allowing myself to get stuck in my own head. (This happens quite often). I hope they remind me to appreciate my own “true love,” because they know how long I’ve waited and sometimes I forget. I hope they remind me that I never skipped pages in all of my old, tattered books, so there’s no reason to skip anything in my life. I hope they remind me to love in the same way all the princes and princesses in the fairy tales have taught me so I can get to my “ever after.” This way, I can actually experience my own fairy tale, written carefully in scattered experiences and mistakes; a story wrapped in good intentions and perfect flaws.
I could finally prove to myself that love is something that sometimes “just happens.” He came at a time I wasn’t looking for anything, and I’ve happily stumbled upon something that could be everything I convinced myself I wouldn’t ever find. Love doesn’t always come in our happiest times; it sometimes comes after years of struggle and despair. Love isn’t just a few pretty words in some old books. Love can be an amazing feeling that, if you work for it, could change you forever. I think that’s what they meant by “happily ever after.”