Ever After

If only life was a fairy tale, we all would be assured of happy endings. But the reality is, no one has the slightest idea what the future holds for us. If only we knew, then we would all be merrily prancing in our starched ballgowns, happily trekking that yellow brick road to felicity.

When you speak of fairy tales, you can’t help but speak of princesses. Every girl dreams of following the footsteps of Disney’s female protaganists. I am no exception to that rule. In fact, at the top of my list is Cinderella. I remember that when I was in Grade 3, I took pride in owning a notebook that had this gorgeous character printed on the cover. No matter how dilapidated my notebook became, I held it with so much love and hope in my heart. Cinderella’s tale led me to believe that no matter how cruel the world seems to be, happiness will find you in the end. Consider that as naiveté as its finest. Young as I was, I took to heart the line from one of the songs of this favorite animated film – “a dream is a wish your heart makes”. Dream I did. Disappointed I’ve become. Through the years, I have come to realize that the world does not burst in song at the advent of adversity, that animals don’t sing but give you rabies, that godmothers can seasonally grant your wishes but often go into hiding, that the pumpkin carriage is a hazy hologram, that my glass slipper is bound to get lost in some freaking gutter, and my Mr. Right is taking so long to find me since he is caught in some mad traffic jam somewhere. Far from being cynical, I knew when reality would stare me at the face and tell me that image I see in the mirror can be fairest of them all, I am not that dense to know that my astigmatism can actually fool me.

If there was any similarity I shared with well-loved Cinderella it was that my world turned upside down when my father passed on. One vivid scene comes to mind. At the burial of my father in 2002, when his casket was being placed inside his resting place and his tomb was being sealed off, I was crying my heart out to my eldest brother Chito. I remember asking him, in goldfish eyes with matching cracking voice and all, “ … now that Papa is gone, who would walk me down the aisle when I do get married?” Such was the foolish thought I surmised in one of the saddest day that dawned in my life.

I am quite thankful that I am already at an age that the pestering question of marriage has somehow loomed. Some questions still surface every now and then, most especially during reunions and unexpected reconnections. Yet as an evolved being, I have developed natural earplugs to deafen myself from the presumed humiliating interrogation.

I can’t quite comprehend why some people, men and women for that matter, instantaneously resort to flag two subject matters when reconnecting with a lady friend who has gone invisible over time . That would be her weight and her status. Pathetic. In my opinion, marriage does not define a woman and the circumference of her waistline is irrelevant to her worth. How a woman goes through her life by far makes for a more interesting topic of conversation. Sadly, there are still people out there who are still shamelessly conventional and inconsiderably shrug at the sight of a flabby woman who doesn’t own a wedding ring. Once again, pathetic.

To tell you honestly, I never really had this kind of tone or this kind of thinking. I must admit that I am one sappy fool behind all these motherhood statements on singlehood. But three years ago, I found myself at a crossroad of dreaming, believing and realizing. The day came when I had to come to terms with myself and decipher what dreams are made of.

While I was busy losing sleep and sanity at my fourth advertising agency, I was faced with an experience of discovering how a selfless act of love breathes true happiness. My officemate Vanessa was caught in the frenzy of preparation as she was to wed her dear fiancé James. She took notice of my creative powerpointing for one of my pharmaceutical requirements at that time and wondered if I could exercise the same videography skills to make her special day more special. Being a mush creature, I instantly obliged to do her wedding video. That traditional heart-tugging audio-visual presentation usually shown during the wedding reception that had the license for maximum mush exposure. That was that magical moment, aside from the exchange of vows in the church, that will tell the world how love came to me.

I love weddings, who doesn’t? I love the works that go into making that day happen. And chronicling one’s love story on video was something I would take on, without blinking an eye. So Vanessa emailed me their sweet pics. She showed me her work-in-progress invite. She babbled about other romantic details. But most importantly, she shared with me her love story with her “bear”. For me that was the most vital piece of information to fuel the movie in my mind.

The only glitch was, Vanessa had a song in mind that was not at all that appropriate for her supposed sappy slideshow. Next thing that followed, Minnie’s emotional reflex was at work. I reached out for my iPod and let Vanessa listen to a song. As she kept quiet and meditated on the music, she intensely held my earphones in the same manner that she would made me feel that she was also clutching my spirit with the tightest grip. Vanessa fell in love with what she heard.

You see, I’ve had this song for so many years. It was a ditty that wasn’t in the pop charts but when I heard it for the first time I felt like I struck gold. It was like finding a diamond ring in some busy street and it had my name engraved in it. Lo and behold, Minnie found her wedding song. I knew that it would be the perfect soundtrack for the greatest performance of my life. The song is entitled “For Only You” by Trisha Yearwood. Set against the piano, the lyrics were downright poignant.

I’ll give my love to only you
To no one else

It’s for only you

You are the world to me

And you will always be

The one who’s oh so beautiful
My love will always stay with you

I will be yours for all of time

And thank the Lord that you are mine

For with each breath I take

I know my love is safe

In the arms of one so wonderful

As long as I can dream

I’ll dream for two

For my love is for only you

I may not have riches in this world but this song was one treasure that was tightly locked in my secret vault.

I don’t know why women and visualization are like peas in a pod. If some women like inventing names (and even second names) for their would-be offsprings, a good percentage of women love to mentally reenact their wedding day. You see, girls from the pigtail phase to the push-up bra stage to the cellulite-in-my-thigh period, would envision the one thousand and one ways of saying goodbye to bachelorette days, how they want to be wed with the mind-boggling frills and all. Girls and/or women would imagine how all their nuptial elements would magically come together on that day they trust the hand of fate. Again, I am part of that romantic statistic. I dream of a wedding. I too have foolishly pondered on that precious entourage list. I’ve had bored moments sketching my dream wedding dress. I’ve drafted my song list and wedding singers. Most importantly, I’ve long played in my head how my everdearest Papa will give me away to the man who will love me just as selflessly. Don’t get me wrong, I did not obsess about these. And still don’t. It just crosses my mind when people converse about wedding bells. But as I went through relationships with the passage of time, I would always have a goal in mind that whatever love I was to invest was not for play but for something that was long-term in nature. I dreamed that my man for the moment will hopefully, and God-willing, be that man of a lifetime.

So back to the office story I was telling you about. When my friend Vanessa flashed a smile as she handed me back my iPod, I uttered to her that I was leasing the song to her. And like a little girl being handed a big fluffy cotton candy, Vanessa hugged me and thanked me. Minutes after that scene, I simply went back to becoming a robot in the office. It took a long while before it sank into me that I am giving away “my” song. I am departing from something that I have long hoped for. I am letting go of a dream.

I never told Vanessa how I felt after I gave her my song. Up to this day, she never knew that I gave her a piece, correction … a big chunk of my dream. In my heart, I have somehow admitted I may never get married. I may never get to use that song. Given that, why not allow another woman, with the same fervent dreams of true romance, be privileged to have that ultimate score on her special day? What calmed my heart was the thought that here is a woman who has found the love of her life and wants forever to be the ribbon that would bind them. The least that Minnie could do is to be the sax player to complement such overwhelming interlude. Vanessa was the woman who will live my dream.

One quote comes to mind …
“I think I need to believe that it works. Love, couplehood, partnerships.
The idea that when people come together they stay together.
I have to take that to bed, even if I have to go to bed alone.”

– Ally McBeal

If there is anything I learned since my last break-up is that solitude will not drive you crazy. It’s when you live a life that is hypocritical or deluded that will kill you. It is when we fool ourselves into falling in love with the concept of love that will rob us of the respect that is due us. It is when we chase after dreams that have to be realized on certain terms, at the expense of other people that prove to be gruesome and unforgivable. I know, deep within me, that I will never settle down just to settle.

Funny but I still do rally behind the hopeless romantics out there. Everyone has the right to dream. Though not everyone is privileged enough to fulfill their dream, in their own terms. Like a prayer, a dream happens when it is time. It will see its fruition when people are ready to embrace it with no questions asked. It then leads me to ask ..

Have you ever let go of a dream?  Are there
dreams in your heart that are nestled in deep
slumber because you were too afraid to take
that leap of faith? 

I was genuine when I leased my song to my friend. I knew she needed it more than I held it. Painful as it may seem, letting go of “my song” simply meant letting go of my dream. I am saying goodbye to my ever after as another woman is about to embrace her forever. That is so beautiful …and yet so bittersweet.

I can’t help the tears that roll down my cheeks as I struggle to find the happy ending to this piece. The thought that my wedding day may never come and that I will never hear the soundtrack of my heart pains me. That no matter how much love I have inside of me, I may never have that privilege of saying those two piercing words of committal to the man I will deeply love till my last breath. Still, everyday I go through my life with that small amber of romance in me. I am very grateful that I have a loving family and great friends who fan the coal from time to time. For now that will do.

Perhaps marriage is not for everyone. But loving is. Whether with the blessings of the highest priest in the land or some swinging Elvis in Vegas, people can commit to love. You don’t need a paper or a lavish ceremony to show the world that you are capable of being faithful to enriching the life of another human being. You just do it. I know I am. I hope I am.

I choose to live everyday like a fairy tale. But pray tell, I do not wait in vain. Sure, love may find me or Cupid may decide to take me out of his rolodex for good. It doesn’t really matter. For if there is one truth that feeds me is that somewhere out there people will fall in love, just like Vanessa and James. And if love works for them, then, that’s good enough for me.


7 thoughts on “Ever After

  1. I find it refreshing and amazing that you still want and can believe in love and romance. So many people just turn angry and bitter.

    i hope someday you find a man in whose kindred spirit you’ll discover the happiness of romantic love. i hope he’s going to be worth it, because you know what my friend?- i’d rather have you living a happy single life than be in bad partnership. i am sure i feel like your dad- you’re too precious 🙂

  2. thank you very much bon for your reply. i may have been battered and bruised in the love department (you know part of my saga) but i believe that that magic still exists somewhere, in some endangered rainforest, but it’s still there. I guess as people pile up the wrinkles, regrets should be the least thing in one’s head.

    you are ever kind to wish me well. i wish the same for myself. I said i will never settle down to settle because if i do so, i will just let myself down in the end. for now, i am blessed to have friends like you who love me, maybe not in the romantic sense, but selflessly — which never fails to put a smile in my heart.

  3. In response to previous comment of Joee Mendiola-Manalo
    Submitted on 2008/12/17 at 11:56am

    “P.S. Your song will always be your song … for it means something to you that will never be the same with any other girl … And yes, just like Cinderella … someday the shoe will fit.”

    ….. I just had to tell you my take using this box. No one has actually put it that way. Nice way to breathe hope once more in a mush creature like me. I never thought it that way,Joee.

    As for that Cinderella truth, I’m not too sure about the shoe. Im forever flat-footed and my havaianas seem to fly all over the place, lost in sea. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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