Most every young girl of my generation was raised on fairy tales. We were all beautiful young princesses awaiting our tall, dark and handsome prince, who would ride in on a steed and carry us off to his castle, where we would live happily ever after.
We were wide-eyed innocents and the blank pages of our book of life were yet to be filled. We had no way of knowing what the story would be back then. We dreamed our dreams as only the young can, confident that they would come true.
But life has a way of beating that innocence out of us. Stuff happens, and then more stuff –-and not the stuff of fairy tales.
And that dream of happily every after? Well, we recognize it for the fantasy it is, make our accommodations to life and move on. That’s how it works in the real world. The adult world.
When I went to Syracuse University as a (very) young freshman, all those decades ago, I went with my dream intact. I always believed I’d meet my prince, and so, when I did, that very first semester, it was not unexpected.
He was amazing and we shared everything from our hometown to our cultural background. Our families even knew each other. We fell in love. How could we not?
I felt lucky, but I was too young to know exactly how lucky I was. After all, wasn’t this the way it was supposed to be?
We married before we knew what marriage was about. I never expected him to leave, and when he did, eight years later, the fairy tale ended. The years went by and I never got that dream back, couldn’t recapture the fairy tale feeling.
For decades after that, no relationship really fit. Three decades, to be exact.
While my first ex-husband and the two that followed all remarried, and so did I, I felt like Goldilocks: the porridge was too hot, it was too cold. The chair was too soft, it was too hard. The bed was too high, too low.
And yet, I forged ahead, ever the optimist.
A whole lot of it was fun. Most of it, in fact.
But it was never right.
As I got older, I modified my dreams to better fit the reality of my age and situation. But I still had them.
On my birthday last year, I posted this on my blog:
July 23, 2008
Today’s my birthday and maybe it’s a time to look back on what’s come before –just briefly–and how to make what comes next more meaningful. After all, I now have more yesterdays than I do tomorrows.
I am very ready for Life 2.0, the next chapter. To do new things and to be more relaxed. That’s going to mean taking risks. I’m not exactly risk-averse, but I do have less of a taste for it than I’ve had in the past. Age, I guess.
I’m tired of the rat race. I’ve had a long career working for other people, for clients, promoting things I’m not interested in on a soul level. In Life 2.0, I’d like to do things that sing to my soul, that satisfy me deeply. I’d like to live in a place with natural beauty, less traffic, more consciousness. Where I can live comfortably in a beautiful setting with my man and my dog(s) at a reasonable cost.
Life 2.0 will begin in 2009.
I wanted that life. I could see it, just out of reach. And it was calling to me.
But I didn’t know how or when.
In 2008, I tried to force it. But things went bad with DH2B, (thankfully) before the wedding. I started a business and left my job. My father died. My first husband was widowed.
I felt like God had me in a strange holding pattern, one that had lasted 30 years. I wondered about it. But I didn’t really question it. I couldn’t. I was too busy trying to figure out how to deal with the life I had.
And then, one day, Life 2.0 appeared.
Out of nowhere.
The phone rang one day and so began months of three- and four-hour conversations.
Despite our painful divorce, it turns out that my first husband and I had always loved each other.
We were too young to know what to do with that love when we married the first time. So we moved on. Loved and married others.
And yet, the feelings remained.
After months of long, intimate and exploratory telephone conversations, he came to visit.
And the reason for my 30-year holding pattern become crystal-clear: I had to wait until God made him available.
After 30 years, my first husband and I have reconciled and will be married again very soon. I am now wearing this.
Love. You can’t fight it. You can’t run from it. And when it’s a fit, you know it. Right away.
Of course, it helps that we have a shared history.
I was, as you might imagine, pretty much the last to know. Family and friends hoped we would reunite. Believed we would reunite. But I was the one who walked around for months wearing the most puzzled expression of disbelief.
He will retire from the practice of law by the end of the year.
We are looking for a home somewhere wonderful.
I will keep working on my new business.
Oh, and Riley gets his own pack in this deal: three dogs and two cats. (We have no doubt that he will be the pack leader.) Meet the whole pack:
FLH (First & Last Husband) makes all my dreams come true, every day.
He is the living embodiment of Prince Charming.
The other day, I had a girlfriend pinch me, just so I could be sure I was awake.
I am awake.
I am happy.
I am in love.
Life 2.0 will be about our love and our life together.
FLH’s motto is “no seatbelts,” and judging from the past few months, it’s going to be a wild ride!
Come along with us.
Happily ever after.
I’m grown now.
But I still believe in it.