October 3, 2005
Rewrite of neovox essay
just wondering if anyone would be interested in giving any feedback on my revised neovox essay?
The Cinderella Myth Unfolded
This is dedicated to all the ladies out there:
Remember when you were young and watched "Cinderella" and you believed it could happen to you? You believed in that unexplainable, magical love that is pretty much only explained as perfection. But you've grown up, and now you laugh a little at your naivety, and you've moved on. You're pretty happy. But you've Settled. You go through a couple guys, one with nosehairs and big clown feet, one who cheats on you for a good year and half, the next who doesn't cheat on you but since you've been programmed to distrust everyone due to boyfriend #2, things don't work out so well with this one either. A few others go down your line, each with their individual flaws and maybe a few who dutch oven you, but in reality you're pretty happy. You've settled, but you're happy… you know this Cinderella thing is a myth; it's not even a distant hope that it might happen. It's just a myth. You're a big girl now, and you've learned it's all about unconditional love, or maybe unconditional learning-to-live-with.
But here's the thing. I was you—until this summer, that is, at a camp for children with special needs. This summer, I realized the whole Cinderella thing can come true. And it did come true, for me. He was basically everything I never even imagined could come true. Not in his perfection, mind you (although he didn't have terrible nosehairs or a problem with keeping food in his mouth while he chewed), but rather in his perfection for me. He was already going in life where I wanted to be going. You know how when you meet someone and in the back of your mind you automatically stick your first name with his last name and imagine for a moment describing to your grandchildren how you first met. And then, as things get more serious, or even maybe just more possible, whether you realize it or not, you kind of make your goals and ideals fit his. Sometimes you make them be his, but usually after the first couple of those mistakes, you learn to just compromise your goals to go in the same general direction that his go. "Sure, honey, I hate snow and cold, but it is sunny 6 months out of the year in Alaska…" No really, I know you all know what I'm talking about, basically because we all do it.
But with Gavin, he was going where I wanted to be going. His views on children with special needs are the same as mine. His love for them, is that like mine, but I guess a thousand times better; it's intense and hard to take in all at once, and powerful. His ways in dealing with people, his views on life, his genuine outlook—like mine. I liked that. I liked that he was already on the very same road that I see myself traveling, and it didn't take any compromising or left turns to get there. I liked that when I watched him life guarding out on the docks he would break out in dance, and all of my campers would giggle and tell me that he danced on the docks like I did in the bunks late at night before bed. I liked that he liked to lay beneath the sky and find new constellations, and as we lay on the sand looking up at the sky I felt as free with him as if I were in that open, dark sky. It wasn't just when we were alone that I saw this connection, it was when he walked in a room and I looked up to see him, head tilted, eyes smiling and thinking, and smile open and ready, just ready, and it was in the moments I would forget to breathe and for just a moment feel like I had landed from a long, hard journey. It was nice having someone walking on that same road as me. I felt…ready for life. I felt like I'd arrived.
So now maybe you've scrolled down your list of possibilities to all the guys who are exactly like you, but I have to tell you, that doesn't exactly work either. Because, and I think Jerry Seinfeld described it best when he said (and this is a rough paraphrase), "Why would I want to date myself?? I already hate myself! I wanna date someone I actually like!" Again, to pull us back to seriousness, because adding random humor helps make me feel comfortable when I discuss anything even remotely close to serious, if you date yourself, you have no one to push you to the limits, inspire you to explore your boundaries and many times even surpass them. You have no one to help you jump to life on a different level.
Gavin changed me in many ways. He did for me what they do in movies—he let me free a little bit. He inspired me to be more than I am, to try things completely differently and to be free. He challenged me and pushed me and made me laugh in new ways. And gave me new love. He asked me once, on our day off, "You would marry me right now, if I asked you, wouldn't you?" The five of us who had the day off had gone to Niagara Falls in the middle of the night, and after standing on falls at 4am, had found ourselves walking the streets of Buffalo, NY. We were staring at a wedding chapel and all of us had sort of just stopped in the middle of the street, staring at it. I looked at him, knowing that we all knew the answer. We just looked at each other for another minute, as the chapel's neon sign flashed, "we wed: o en 24 ho r." A lone taxi flew by us, honking. It was time for breakfast.
I couldn't tell you when I started to like him, but I do know that in one of my first memories, he sauntered up to me at the meal hall and, grinning, said, "Sweethawt, your very smile makes my day every day." He was kind of crazy at times; our first meeting, he and two other friends ran after me and my co-counselors to see if they could ride in the back of our pickup and do donuts because they had never seen a pickup before. Sometimes he was the loud one even when it involved no noise from him like the time he let his friends duct tape his face to see what would happen. And then sometimes he was the quiet one, holding the campers hardest to love and making them laugh or maybe even just smile. And then he was the deep one, the one that asked the questions about life that I'd always wanted someone to care about enough to ask, the one that understood me and wasn't scared by my past or even future.
My last memory of Gavin is the one that seems the least tangible. It was our last night at camp, and we had walked to our spot—a cliff above the lake and off beyond all the cabins. Dry lightning lit across the line between water and sky, and for moments alone lit up his face. I tried to memorize it as his blue eyes searched mine. He always tilted his head to the side when he watched me, like it helped him understand me better. I couldn't think of anything to say that night. Or rather, there was nothing to say that could change things, that would make his stay in America or make this new void in me fill.
They say write about what you know, but I'm finding as I write this that I am not writing about what I know, but rather what I don't know—and what I don't know is why I found this Cinderella love in someone who I can never be with—and I'd sort of hoped that writing this sort of self exploration would lead me to a greater understanding of love. Or at least I'm hoping that as I write this, I may come to some sort of peace.
None of that greater understanding/peace has happened, really. Except that I know what I have to find, and that is a magical love. Maybe if Gavin did not live several time zones away, or maybe even if he were from the same country or continent as me, we might have had a long term relationship. But I don't know if it would have worked out. Of course I think it would have. Otherwise, several months later, I would not continue to think of him, dream of him, and long for him. But in all actuality, if all he did was prove to me that Cinderella magic can come true, and help me aspire to find that again, he did his job—as usual—better than expected. My friend asked me, if I knew ahead of time the heartache of leaving him, would I do it again? I couldn't not do it again. Maybe I'll never see him again and maybe I'll always miss him. But there is one thing he did for me, and that was open up a new part to me that doesn't have to leave me. And while every day in secret daydream I will relive our moments together, our last goodbye, and the tangible spark between us, I can't really decide whether I truly want to get over him and move on, or whether I want to remember him. I'm not quite sure if there is a way to do both.
But what I want for you is that you may know, through a primary source (I hope all my history teachers are happy that I inserted this wise bit of academics), that Cinderella can happen. It does happen. But in the meantime, know who you are and be happy with that. Stop settling with losers who cheat on you or make you turn into their perfect and ideal girlfriend. Stop settling for someone who doesn't adore you, who doesn't make your stomach settle somewhere in the throat area every time you think of him, and someone who doesn't make your face hurt from smiling so much every time you say his name. And most importantly, don't settle for the guys who give dutch ovens.
Posted by Christine Dance at October 3, 2005 1:00 AM
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