Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Happily Ever After

I'm going to a wedding tomorrow. Normally, I'm cranky and cynical about these kinds of things (okay, a lot of things). I play callous games in my head, wondering how many weeks the bride is pregnant, or putting odds on long the marriage will last (it's generally inversely proportional to the cost of the wedding). This time, though, I don't have to wonder.
The boy's grandparents are renewing their vows after 60 years. Think about that for a moment - 60 years. Why they're renewing their vows at this point, I don't know. If they've kept them up this long, it hardly seems like they need a reminder now. But it's certainly a good reason for a big party, and the boy's family is particularly good at that.
The self reflection begins. Will I ever celebrate a milestone like that? Will I find true love and get married and live happily ever after? Can that really happen these days? It seems they just don't make things like they used to. My grandparents were at 49.5 years when my grandmother died. My own parents didn't last 10. The trend only seems to be going downhill.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not on a kick about the sanctity of marriage. I don't believe that - there are very good reasons for divorce. But given the current statistics, how can anyone really believe in true love, the kind in the fairy tales that lasts forever and ever, beyond space, beyond time? Self destructive as we are in our relationships, that's the kind of love we really want to believe in.
We're told those fairy tales, how the knight rescues the princess, and they live happily ever after. We hear about the dragons and the rescue, but no one ever fills us on the happily ever after part. Not even the grandparents who told us the stories.
But somehow they knew. My grandfather wore his wedding ring for years after my grandmother's death, until he died. Now I wear it, in honor of both of them. After 60 years, 5 children, 33 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild, the boy's grandparents still manage to flirt with each other at parties. I don't know what else I need to see to know that true love is real. It may not be common, but it is absolutely real.
So princesses, even the ones who aren't locked in towers, go on dreaming. If 60 years isn't ever after, I don't know what is. Cynical as I may be, as we all are, true love exists, and not just in fairy tales. It's rare, it's precious, but it's out there. And that, even more than the beginning of a marriage, is a reason to celebrate.

And in case you're wondering, I'm totally wearing this.

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