Happily Ever After

Dreaming of Happily Ever After in the Fairy Tale Land of Rainbows and Unicorns

It’s lying by the lake with his fingers in your hair. It’s fantasizing that this is forever, and knowing it isn’t fair. It’s thinking he sees you the way you see him. It’s being impossibly in love, but knowing it must be pretend….

If you’re like me, the summer rekindles that precious, hope-driven, trite mess of a thing called “romance”; that thing that exists in the Fairy Tale Land of Rainbows and Unicorns; that thing we read about in books, and watch in romantic comedies.

I’m part of a rogue, possibly cliché, portion of the young gay community that still believes in those fairy tales—in the notion that you don’t have to hook up to have a good night (I have a fabulously bland sex life and still manage to have fun); in the notion that there is “sex,” and there is “making love,” the latter which I unquestionably prefer.

I think it still exists. No, no—not the teddy-bears-and-chocolate kind of romance—that’s not really romance anyway. I mean the kind of romance, maybe, where we remember how much fun courtship can be—the kind of romance that actually has a beginning (where “beginning” is defined as time that occurs before sex, and we aren’t just talking foreplay). A beginning includes getting to know one another.

This kind of romance saves the first time for a moment of passion, not play.

Does it exist? Or am I part of a dying race grasping at futile dreams?

At 19, I was the stereotypical teen, tied helplessly to insubstantial passions. As a sophomore in college, I thought I’d conquer the world with my interest in politics and business. Two months later, I decided instead I was going to be a writer. Three months later, I was going to take a year off after graduation to “find myself” in Europe (talk about cliché).

My passions were fleeting, but they were deep, each a genuine reflection of the moment’s fashion.

A strange feeling arose in these months, however, that, unlike my postcollege ambitions, I couldn’t shake. I’d come off of the Year of the Slut, and realized what I really wanted, more than anything, was this thing about which I heard people say: “You’ll just know when it happens.” It was what so many poets and artists tortured themselves over, this hackneyed being “in love” thing.

What was it—really?

So, I met the man of my dreams. I fell into breathless infatuation, which developed into love, but ended in earth-shattering heartbreak. We made memories in those years. We made love.

He was the closest thing I’ve ever had to true romance, and it played out exactly as I imagined love would: perfectly. Except for that whole being abused thing. Oh, and that whole infidelity issue…minor details.

OK, OK. So, I don’t have the track record to prove that romance is alive. It has to say something, though, that I feel this way. I mean, surely I’m not by myself in the Fairy Tale Land of Rainbows and Unicorns. There must be more of us out there. Closet romantic, anyone?

If, as you read this, you resonate with such longing, know that we’re in it together. Know that just because lust overwhelms the scene, it’s not all there is (I go out all the time, without hooking up!, although I do very much enjoy a good cuddle). Know that we aren’t trite, despite what our sardonic counterparts say.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, or are cynical, congratulations on making it this far in my column without puking, or for continuing postexpulsion.

If you’ve found your Happily Ever After, I thank you for showing us it’s possible. That phrase doesn’t have to be the ending of a fairy tale—just the beginning of a real one.

All we can do is leave our hearts protected but open; live life as decent human beings; and hope that maybe one day, we’ll find him (or her) on the horizon, with or without that glistening armor….

It’s listening to him say, “I love you,” and knowing it’s OK to know it’s true.

It’s hope, it’s passion, two hearts’ patter—your very own Happily Ever After.

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