>The Real Happily Ever After

>One of my cousins got married last week. It was a beautiful wedding and a really fancy reception, too– the whole thing had to be in the $25,000 range, but I’m just guessing. Here’s a photo I took from my seat.

I’m notoriously cheap. I’ve had 2 weddings. The first was about $2000 (all my own money–money I still wish I could get back, by the way). The second was $299. It’s funny, but you can’t tell from the photos what any wedding costs. Everything looks expensive in wedding photos.

And weddings are beautiful. Love songs, gorgeous gowns, flowers everywhere, pretty and tasty food. A wedding is the ultimate “Happily Ever After.” The couple gets married, smiles and we fade to black as they drive off amid a shower of birdseed and floating bubbles.

The thing is, I have this calendar my kid bought me. One day last week the quote of the day was, “Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children. Life is the other way around.” –David Lodge

There’s a reason for that. Romance novelists know what it’s like after the wedding. It’s soccer games and PTA meetings and homework projects done the night before. It’s paying bills and cleaning out the gutters and cleaning up dog poop. It’s the day-to-day stuff. Not much romantic about that.

Not at first glance anyway.

But I don’t kid myself. The day after the wedding is when the real thing begins to happen. I keep playing with the idea of writing about what happens after the bubbles and birdseed. How real love is about being so sick I can’t form coherent sentences and hubby brings me food and meds when I look and sound (and probably smell) like death. How on the worst day at work I dread coming home to the kitchen catastrophe I left that morning only to find hubby has left work early to clean it up for me.

The real thing is that part of the vows—the “for better or for worse” couples don’t really imagine will ever happen to them. It’s losing a child and having no one but each other to cling to. It’s going to the funeral of your spouse’s father and marveling at his composure when you know he is holding back tears with every ounce of strength. It’s as simple as his remembering to buy coffee because he’d noticed we were running low. And he doesn’t even drink coffee.

My married cousin will discover this over time. If it’s the real thing, if it’s going to last, the good stuff will show up in unusual places long after all the guests have gone home. The real happily ever after. I’ve got to come up with a plot for that.

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1 Comment

Filed under Life Interferes with Art

One response to “>The Real Happily Ever After

  1. >It's a month and half later…the second time I've read this post and it still makes me tear up.

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