Monday, July 8, 2013


I am a princess.

I've always known this about myself and my father has done wonders to reinforce it. (Thanks Daddy!) Lately though, I think I've changed which princess I am. Hear me out on this.

Y'all know I love Cinderella. Who wouldn't want to magically change her circumstances from destitute hearth cleaner with an evil family to beloved wife of a prince dancing the night away at the candlelit castle? Your Fairy Godmother appears out of nowhere, gives you the gown of your dreams and sends you on your way. Yes, Cindy worked hard all her life, feeling unloved and unwanted. Wishing and hoping and praying for something more. She surrounded herself with singing mice and helpful birds, whistling away the hours, keeping herself cheerful despite an awful situation. She absolutely deserved that chance at happiness, a way out of her dark world and into the arms of a man who could take care of her. I have always and will always admire her for that.

But has anybody else ever noticed that the Prince has no name???

This got me thinking: I wonder if he even exists? That nameless Prince, would it matter what kind of man he truly was? Or did it just matter that he came from a nice home with a generous family and a steady job? Did Cinderella ever really get to know him, or did she just know that he was her ticket out from the wrath of her stepmother?

I don't want a nameless Prince. I don't need a castle. I don't want a man who falls in love with me for my dress or my dancing or my voice. I want a man, a real man, with a name and a face and a personality who rescues me from loneliness not because I'm desperate to escape my life, but because he wants us to create a life together.

I want Flynn Rider.

If you haven't seen Tangled yet, stop reading right now. Go watch the movie. Then come back.

Have you watched it yet? Ok good, keep reading!

Tangled is the story of Rapunzel, the little girl with the long blonde hair locked in the tower under the tyrannical reign of her evil stepmother. (A lot of princess stories start the same. One more reason I'm glad my parents never divorced! Thanks mom and dad!) Rapunzel watches every year as the lanterns are lit from the castle far away, floating up into the night sky, illuminating her world. She's a girl who has been denied human interaction, kindness, compassion, affection, and love yet Rapunzel finds a way to keep alive one dream in her heart: she wants to see those floating lanterns.

Rapunzel loves adventure. She is brave and strong and clever. She is smart, funny and witty. Rapunzel is full of fire, the kind of girl that my grandfather would call spunky. She knows what she wants, she is willing to go for it, and she'll stop at nothing until she gets there. Although she has help along the way, Rapunzel essentially rescues herself.

More than that, Rapunzel rescues the man she falls in love with. Enter Flynn Rider. Let's just say, he's not exactly a prince. Ok fine, he's the opposite of a prince. He's a thief, a vagabond, a fugitive. Flynn Rider isn't even his real name, which makes him a liar too! How could any girl fall for a man such as this? Maybe it's because Flynn stops at nothing to make Rapunzel's dreams come true.

Flynn is hopelessly flawed. He's stubborn and snarky and doubtful. He's closed off, a loner, skeptical and untrusting. Flynn doesn't have roots because he's always on the run. He's so busy running from things (prison, the police, a couple of thugs he stole from, a willful horse who hates his guts, Rapunzel's stepmother, you get the idea,) that he doesn't know what to do when he finally finds the one person he wants to run towards. Rapunzel captures his heart in a way that Flynn is wholly unaccustomed to. He finds himself being honest for the first time in his life, wanting to stay, wanting to fight for something. Flynn realizes that looking out for Rapunzel is more important than looking out for himself. Why? Because Rapunzel is kick ass awesomeness. She is more than beautiful, more than gentle, more than a princess. She will beat you upside the head with a frying pan to make her point. (Not a metaphor.) Rapunzel is fearless in spite of being afraid. She is resourceful when there's nothing around. She's fierce and funny and open and that is exactly the kind of princess I want to be: the princess who rescues herself and maybe, just maybe, finds her flawed ruffian turned love-of-her-life along the road.

If you're reading this after the Jason saga, you might have noticed I mentioned a gift bag he gave me (next to the hideous tulips!) during our first evening in together. He cooked me dinner, we danced in the kitchen, and I'm pretty sure that was the moment I knew for sure that I loved him. Well inside that gift bag was a beautifully written card calling me every wonderful thing a woman could be called, a stuffed chameleon, and Tangled on dvd. Jason didn't understand my affection for this film at the time, despite our shared penchant for all things Pixar. I think that like all men, he assumed that I was the kind of princess who wanted to be rescued. The kind of princess who was looking for a prince and a castle and a Happily Ever After. But real life doesn't end when the credits roll and I'm not looking for someone to live in a fairy tale with. Real love is always better than storybook love anyway, and that's what I want. I want a man who will scale that tower for me, but who knows that I will knock him sideways with a frying pan should he get out of line. I want a man who will go with me to the ends of the earth to make our dreams come true, but who knows what it means to come home. I want a man who will dance in the town square with me, unashamed of his rhythmless white guy moves, lost in the simple joy of just being together.

Flynn Rider loved Rapunzel before he knew that she was the lost princess. He loved her before he knew that her hair had magical powers (she saved him on more than one occasion.) He loved her even though she was feisty and demanding and a pain in his ass. He loved her even though it meant he couldn't run away any more. Flynn loved Rapunzel because in loving her, he figured out who he really was, and in letting her love him in return, he was finally able to accept it.

Love isn't easy and it isn't perfect. Love is a crazy, wild ride and if you hang on long enough, you just might survive it. Love is being thrown from your horse and getting right back on. Love is about knowing who you are, knowing who the other person is and accepting them, faults and flaws and all. Love is fighting. Love is staying. Love is Tangled.

Friday, July 5, 2013

An Unexpected Journey

"Please don't let that be him!"

That was my first thought on our first date. I showed up at the movie theater looking casually adorable and a few minutes late (as per usual.) I passed a huge guy on my way in and didn't really give him a second glance, other than to think as I walked past "Please don't let that be him."

I texted Jason when I got inside the lobby to say that I'd arrived and he wrote back almost immediately "I'm here. Standing outside. How'd I miss you?"

"Oh shit," I think. It *was* him!

Jason walked into the movie theater lobby looking more like a giant than a man. He's 6'3 (6'4?) and wearing a black coat over a black jacket over a black button down with black slacks and black shoes. If I squint just a tad, he looks like Hagrid from Harry Potter. I have a date with Hagrid??? What have I gotten myself into?

My moment of sheer terror is quickly relieved when Jason smiles at me, one of the most genuine beaming smiles I have ever seen. He wrapped his arms around me and a fear of being crushed to death flashes before my eyes. Instead of the bear hug from Andre the Giant I am dreading, it is more like being gently enveloped in a sweet, warm embrace from an old friend I haven't seen in forever. Jason is comfortable, instantly familiar, and I feel myself melt into him just enough to feel small, safe, and secure in his arms. I don't want him to let go.

We separate and I find myself staring up into his face. Literally, tilting my head at a 45 degree angle to look up at him. At 5'9, I'm pretty tall for a girl, but he still makes me feel like a tiny little person. I realize how many short men I've been dating and am immensely grateful that Jason is as big as he is. He looks and feels and smells like a real man. Strong and confident yet with a kindness about him I can't quite put my finger on. He's already bought our tickets and popcorn with extra extra butter while waiting for me. Add considerate and generous to the list! We grab seats next to each other and I have to physically stop myself from snuggling down next to him as though he is already my boyfriend.

Jason and I sit towards the back of the auditorium so as not to annoy anyone else in the theatre with three hours of his explaining The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to me. I know nothing. Never read any of the books. Never saw the original movies. Never bothered finding out any information. Why try to date a guy who wants to see these movies with me? Because Lord of the Rings (as far as I'm concerned) is a nerd passion and we all know, nerds are nicer.

I am sucked into the world of Bilbo Baggins, wizards, dragons, trolls, hobbits, adventures, second breakfast, and the Shire. I am transported through visual imagery, compelling characters, and a detailed storyline to another world made real on the screen in front of me. Jason takes his time explaining what's going on, answering every question I pose as best he can in the quiet darkness of the stadium seating. His voice soothes my fears about sounding like a moron who has zero exposure to Lord of the Rings and yet requested a date with an expert. Somewhere around the denouement, we both reach into the popcorn bag at the same time. Our hands meet and we both pull away from the bag with interlocked fingers and no snack food. We stay hand in hand, arm in arm, my head occasionally resting on his shoulder for the remainder of the night.

By the time the film is over, I am ready for the sequel. I want another movie. More than that, I want another date.

The house lights come up on the credits, dragging us away from our altered reality and it's pretty clear neither of us wants to leave. We stand in the lobby talking for another hour (maybe more?) about the film, our lives, and the world in general. We talk and talk and I can't believe I just met this man. I can't believe I almost didn't meet this man at all. We finally exit the theater, mostly because it's almost midnight on a Tuesday and they're closing / kicking us out. Jason walks me to my car but before he says good night, he warns me that he thinks he's coming down with a cold and doesn't want to get me sick. He *wants* to kiss me, he assures me. He doesn't want to be forward or presumptuous, but he definitely wants to kiss me. He's restraining himself for my sake, he promises, so that I don't catch whatever he might have.

A girl has ways of persuading a man to kiss her. Cold or no cold. He is kissing me.

I pull a page from the Rachel Green school of flirtation a la Friends circa 1999. I wrap my arms around his neck in a good-bye hug, give a small squeeze, then slide my hands down to his chest, rest them there and make a little mmmmm noise. That small release of a satisfied sigh works every time. Trust me, ladies, Jennifer Aniston could have any man she wanted wrapped around her finger with that seductive maneuver and so can you.

Long story short, it worked. He leaned in and kissed me against my car. My stomach dropped, my heart stopped, everything inside me flipped upside down. Jason's lips became the only lips I wanted to kiss for a long, long time. He caught me completely by surprise.  I felt the roller coaster start steeply uphill and held on a little bit tighter, prepared for a whirlwind ride. I hugged him a little harder and braced my heart for Kimberly and Jason: An Unexpected Journey.