When the Words Don't Fit by Sara Healy is a pleasant debunking of Disney myth.
She begins her tale as young, sweet, 21-year-old; on the flight to her sister's post-elopement party (eloping being a family tradition) she catches the eye of a dashing fellow traveler. When she departs from the plane, he hands her a poem.
One would think it the ideal beginning of an epic romance; two strangers meet and profess their undying love. When she returns to the airport he is there, they take the same flight back, and become a couple.
He walked me to my car, and we kissed in the parking garage, under orblike yellow lights. It was a still kiss, a postcard kiss, a Disney princess kiss, the kind of kiss that makes blue cartoon birds chirp and swirl in the sky, their beaks holding garlands. And this is exactly where the story should end. It should cut to credits, and the music should be triumphant but soft. Your last image should be of the young girl and the handsome poetry-writing boy frozen in a movie kiss. You should brush the popcorn off your lap and leave the theater smiling because everything worked out the way you knew it would. You can leave remembering that time when you were young and lovely, and things like that could happen.
But as the audience may recall, this is real life. She held on longer to the relationship than he, since, after all, they have a fabulous story, right?
The man she meets right after the poet became her husband. They met through mutual friends at a bar.
My husband and I don’t have a great “meeting” story. We met in a conventional way and had a conventional wedding. And in some sense, we lead a conventional life.
Her parents had the epic love story, but she knew it was not easy. Their marriage was over fifty years old but it had its ups and downs. As does hers.
But my husband has seen me at my worst, at my most vile. And he has seen me at my best. He knows the things I don’t tell anyone, and the lies that I tell everyone but him. I have made sacrifices for him and been angry about it. Sometimes his flaws are so egregious, so blatant, they are all I see. And sometimes his kindness is so stunning that I am humbled. And that’s love. Big, epic, fairy-tale love. The kind of love people write about. The kind of love that could inspire a poem.