Monday, July 8, 2013
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.