This post comes from my new friend Cazey Williams who is a blogger based in Richmond, VA. He enjoys Instagramming clouds, overdosing on iced coffee (even in January), and pretending to have a life outside his PhD program. Cazey co-writes a sweet blog called As Told Over Brunch, which you should definitely check out (preferably while eating brunch).
Once upon a college, a millennial matched with a girl via Tinder. Or, if we want this story to be more romantic, he fell in love with the back of her head in a 150-person lecture hall.
Their first date was either a pregame before a party or, if they’re lucky, coffee at the on-campus library paid for by his dining plan. Hopefully they remember their first kiss and they weren’t blacked out. The relationship lasts three months. The hang-up lasts two years.
You didn’t see that ending coming, did you?
We are twenty-somethings born in the Disney Renaissance. Our heroes (both genders) always ended up with their meant-to-be. Maybe there was some confrontation with a monster, but eventually it’s slayed and the villain banished. Afterward, they live happily ever after, forever and ever, amen.
Similarly, I thought my own (love) life would follow a tidy cliché.
Two people meet, they’re irrevocably in love and they both just know it, and here comes the bride. In a summary, I believed in soulmates. And this is coming from a rational person. I study math.
I don’t remember the exact moment I gave this up and abandoned the mantra “if it’s meant to be, it will be.” But I do remember the day I asked my mom if she believed in soulmates.
Some background on my parents: they’ve known each other since childhood. My dad’s dad was a pastor, and my mom’s family went to their church. When my mom was a girl, she knew she liked my dad, but my dad was something of a playboy—as much as a pastor’s son can be. He had another girlfriend. My mom was devastated. She spent a whole weekend crying until—wait for it—an angel visited her in a dream. This angel told my mom she would marry my dad, so stop worrying. So she did. (No, my mom didn’t change her name to Mary II.) And then she and my dad started dating.
And then he proposed to my mom.
And she said no.
Like, Mom, an angel told you to marry Dad, and you said no? What is going on?
My mom: “I was too young.”
True. She was 17.
My dad proposed again a year later. This time she said yes. And now they’re close to celebrating 40 years of marriage.
Back to that conversation where I asked my mom if she believed in soulmates. I’m paraphrasing here, but she basically said, “I love your father, but if I hadn’t married him, I would have married someone else, and I would still be happy. I think we have multiple soulmates.”
But, Mom, that’s not how soulmates work! What about the angel???
Gradually, I’ve decided my mom is right. Or maybe half-right. Maybe we don’t have soulmates at all. After all, my aunt is always asking if I’ve met anyone. When I say I haven’t, my mom accuses me of being too picky.
Me: “That’s because I’m waiting on my soulmate, duh.”
Mom: “You need to learn to compromise.”
I don’t know what she’s talking about.
Furthermore, compromise and soulmates seem like mutually exclusive concepts, at least how I define soulmates.
If we are soulmates, then we are just going to go together like ice and coffee, royals and crowns, and flowers and pots.
What do you mean I need to share the sheets; I might get tired of my partner; my beloved is going to do things that aggravate me?
But then you grow up. You like someone and they don’t like you back. Or you both like each other and then one of you falls out of love. Or you like each other, but it’s unequal; one of you is more into it than the other.
None of these happen in the PG fairytales, but they happen in Real Life, otherwise known as adulthood.
We also don’t flirt with royalty on a regular basis, marry into castle estates, or have to kill our uncle to receive our inheritance. Thank gosh on the last. On the former, ooph. I really have a thing for Princess Kate.
That doesn’t mean we can’t find a happy ending. It just means we have to look further than street rats and monarchs’ daughters. And once we meet and have mutual attraction, we have to work on it. A couple is not meant to be; they’re made to be. And we do the making (as opposed to the planet’s movements, love potions, or Disney artists).
And that’s the more compelling love story. It’s what makes an epic versus a fairytale.