At the end of every fairy tale, we hear these three words: “…happily ever after.” But why does it seem like happily ever after isn’t lasting as long as we believe it should, especially in the 21st century? That’s what I’m trying to figure out myself now that I’m in my twelfth month as a lonely woman.
My very first Disney movie was, if my memory serves correctly because I was extremely young, Sleeping Beauty. Princess Aurora is spirited away to a cottage in the forest by the Three Good Fairies after Maleficent casts a spell on her as a baby. She’s given a new identity, Briar Rose, and for sixteen years she lives her life happily with absolutely no knowledge that she’s a princess. On her sixteenth birthday, in an ironic turn of events, Aurora (a.k.a. Briar Rose) meets Prince Phillip, whom she is betrothed to by her parents, King Stefan and Queen Leah, for the purpose of uniting their two kingdoms, and they click right away. Rose is heartbroken to hear from the fairies that she cannot meet Prince Phillip again once the truth about her royal heritage came out. Meanwhile, the prince retreats to King Stefan’s castle to tell his father, King Hubert, about his encounter with Aurora (without revealing her name because she hesitated to even say it in the first place). The Good Fairies bring Aurora back to her castle, where Maleficent lures Aurora to her sleeping death by making her touch the spindle. The Fairies then find Prince Phillip to break the spell by kissing her back to life. Once Aurora is awoken by her very first kiss, she dances with the same prince she met back in the forest in front of the entire kingdom.
Sleeping Beauty introduced me to the concept of true love, which I interpreted as: If I happen to like a certain guy, he’s my true love. Unfortunately, the guys I was interested in when I was very young didn’t think the same way about me–or other girls, for that matter. When I was 12, I had a crush on this boy Trent (not his real name), who was three years my junior and the little brother of one of my brother’s best friends. Trent and I attended the same elementary school together, and almost every day until I entered 6th Grade I would go over to his house and play Sonic Riders with him–mostly because he needed my help with beating certain levels. The funny thing was, I didn’t even develop a crush on Trent until I was vacationing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I conjured up a drawing of me and Trent standing next to each other, and wrote a letter saying I missed him. Trent was un-phased by it. Five months later, I decided to write a love letter to him in the form of a card. I was very nervous to give the card to Trent in person, so I told Trent’s brother to give him the card for me. Trent’s reaction when he received it? Minimal conversation with me to none at all. I was stunned, but thank God I didn’t go psycho over it.
Enter the spring semester of my freshman year of high school, and I meet Jack (not his real name), the son of my middle school counselor who’s married to my high school counselor. When I discovered that Jack was as big a Sonic fan as I was, we immediately clicked. We were friends first due to our ages at the time: 16 and 21. I had to wait till I turned 18 to date Jack, but he was infatuated with me regardless. On November 9th, 2012, our third date–the first two dates were chaperoned at a pizzeria and at Halloween party in South Beach, respectively–after we saw Wreck-It Ralph, Jack gave me my first kiss and said, “I love you.” My stomach was filled with butterflies, but Jack admitting his feelings towards me made me feel so happy.
I finally found my Prince Charming!
Jack and I did everything together–attend anime conventions (at least one), cosplay our favorite video game characters, hang out at Barnes and Noble, talk about social problems, even ice skating on my prom night. I believed that our romance would last forever.
On May 20th last year, five days before my flight to California, the moment I thought would never hit me happened. At a local Chili’s, Jack said, somberly, that he felt like an older brother to me and that he had absolutely no idea who he was anymore. We went back to being “just friends,” but we no longer see each other. Now we just text and tweet to each other. (Just recently, we started playing Dungeon Fighter Online–just in our own homes since it’s an MMO.)
Jack leaving me shattered the “true love” mentality drilled into me by the Disney movies I watched as a kid (and still do today, on occasion). It made me feel like everything Disney taught me about love and relationships…is wrong. But then again, the time period in which the animated films took place ranges from the Middle Ages (or earlier, since Mulan took place in the Han dynasty) to the 20th century, so the status quo on love and relationships may have changed in that long stretch of time. Still, Jack breaking up with me got me into an emotional (not to mention mental) tailspin, ruminating over why he had to leave me, what I did wrong in our relationship, and how I could get him back, if at all. At the same time, even now as I’m writing this, I’m trying to learn to push these Disney fairy tale notions of love out of my mind and let Jack go. Maybe he will come back to me, maybe he won’t.
In the meantime, I hope that any guy who comes my way will have the same love, compassion, and understanding as Jack expressed toward me.