Happily ever after comes first

I’m in San Antonio tonight. As I walked the Riverwalk before dinner, I saw a young couple across the water — 20-somethings enjoying a night, holding hands, strolling the river. Despite the unfortunate outfit she wore (black tank, studded belt, daisy duke denim shorts, black knee highs and converse sneakers — a look she’ll surely look back on and wonder what the fashion gods to which she is a slave were thinking) I couldn’t help smiling, thinking that things are always easy in the beginning of new ventures.

A few moments later, an old friend in a new relationship proceeded to put my marriage and life on a pedestal in the way only a single girlfriend can.  She is excited, yet tentative about her new guy…  Yet, she’s recently  been thrown for a loop by the divorce of friends she thought were the real deal, and it’s made her wonder.  I tell her that, though I’m loving watching it, I laugh at people like DeAnna on the Bachelorette who keep saying she’s looking for the dream, the happily ever after — focus on the fact you’re happy and stop defining the end goal.

When we hang up, I sit watching Hillary Rodham Clinton and then Barack Obama speak on the night he clinches the Democratic party nomination delegate count. I think of how engaged people are this year, and despite our different opinions, it is an amazing, nascent moment in history that we are witnessing tonight as I write this:  The nomination of a candidate for President of the U.S. by a major political party who is not a middle-aged or older White male. 

Then, (between tears and occasional sobs – I can’t believe this day has come, and I miss the people who can’t see it) I see a story on MSNBC.com that Mel Ferrer, a major movie star and director of the mid-1900s (was married to Audrey Hepburn and starred in major blockbusters of the day) had passed away in a “convalescent home.” This gave me pause — this guy was the Kevin Costner or Ben Affleck of his day — and most people won’t notice that he’s died or done so in a nursing home.

What do all of these have in common?  They remind us that “Happily Ever After” comes first. 

How strange that fairy tale writers wrote it otherwise. The carefree, happy moments are always first… then happiness comes when you roll up your sleeves and work at it.

The strolls down riverwalks, the bachelorette declaring her “dream come true”, the honeymoon; the amazing, breathtaking moments of oration, the glorified hearthrob limelight – all so often occur in early enthralling days.  The easy parts of all of our lives, our relationships, our jobs, our celebrity-pedestal-placing, our elections come early on, even when they don’t seem easy at the time. Life takes work, marriage takes work, work takes work, leadership at all levels takes work… and our adoration of all of those lead to nothing if the work doesn’t happen.

I hope as we enter an historic and engaging election season, for once, we see Happily Ever After last,  but I expect it will take a lot of work.


June 4, 2008. Tags: , , . Uncategorized.

One Comment

  1. Cassandra Abbe Barto Downs replied:

    Very true, life takes work and it doesn’t always get to be fun, but for the most part it’s extremely worth it!

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