Artwork by Anna Silivonchik

When I was a young girl, I began collecting things for my Hope Chest. I clipped Betty Crocker coupons from cereal boxes and packages of Kraft macaroni and cheese, and I sent away for pieces of silverware, one utensil at a time. I agonized over the pattern, hoping my choice would transcend trends and time. Each fork, spoon, or knife was packed lovingly into my box, safely tucked away for my fantasy future with my prince. Another precious item was a cut-glass candle holder from Avon, complete with monogram stickers. I used an “S” thinking I would marry Football Guy. The “S” worked for my first husband and my second. I think I got rid of that candle.

I don’t remember what else was in my box, but I do remember that I spent an awful lot of time thinking about my dreamy married life and eating dinner with those forks.

Little girls are doomed. We listen intently to the fairy tales about white horses and living happily ever after. We really believe it will happen to us. We do. And when it doesn’t work out the first time, we think we made a mistake and didn’t wait for the right prince. After the second bubble bursts, what’s a girl to do?

Now that I’m twice-divorced and in my 40’s, I don’t feel the slightest desire to save my good silverware for an imaginary guy, but I’m still a little interested in the happy-ever-after part. What does that look like now that I have control of my own remote and have filled both of my “his and hers” closets?

I’m not really sure.

Perhaps there will always live inside of me the idealistic child who longs for the fairy tale to finally come true. Maybe society has clouded my head with ideas that I cannot be loved truly unless the story includes a ring and a romantic proposal. Maybe I just really like the idea of having a solid, loyal partner to rely on in my old age (who will cut the grass and sip lemonade with me in our white rocking chairs on our front porch).

But maybe it’s just a story. Maybe the only honest thing to say about the fairy tale is that it ends when you decide to get married. I don’t know any happily married people. If they think they are, then probably they’re just too dysfunctional to know they’re not.

Maybe there just aren’t any guys on white horses who live within riding distance. Or maybe all the real princes are stuck in bad marriages of their own.

Maybe I’m too scared to think about getting married again.

Maybe no one exists on this earth who could sway me to share my closets.

Maybe I just don’t want to.

I have a suspicion that somewhere… somewhere down deep in a secret place, I would like a real prince to find me, marry me, and live happily ever after with me until The End – even though I think it’s just a dream.

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