In which we get nostalgic for the Boy who Lived by talking about the way he changed my life.
I got married in April. That’s not the important part. Due to my husband’s job, we couldn’t get the time for a formal honeymoon. Instead, we only had a weekend. We spent that at the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Studios London because we’re just amazing like that.
We did things like chilling in the great hall and riding the Hogwarts Express and flying on broomsticks, and heading into the forbidden forest, and bowing to Buckbeak, and drinking butterbeer and flying in a Ford Anglia and strutting down Diagon Ally and buying wands, and walking the Great Hall, and finding the sorting hat in Dumbledor’s office and a whole bunch of other ridiculously awesome stuff*.
On the way back, once we had taken as much magic as we could with our narrow time slot, we were discussing Harry Potter. It played such a significant part of both our childhood’s. We grew in a generation founded on the magic of Harry Potter – a book series which arguably redefined the reading world and made reading ‘cool’ again. Now it was even a significant part of our wedding by being our surrogate honeymoon.
Husband was like many avid fans who basically started the series when it arrived on the scene in 1997. Most of my avid HP fan friends are the same; they were reading the series from the publication of book one. I, sadly, was a little late to the show.
Actually, I was late to reading in general, because my brain-hole liked to confuse me. Anyone with dyslexia** can attest to how frustrating reading as an activity can be when words jump about and letters reorganise themselves. I remember years of Primary school feeling inadequate because I just couldn’t work around the way words danced and changed all the time. It wasn’t until Secondary School that it was even discovered I had an issue, and one kind teacher*** helped me to navigate the condition enough to at least be able to read accurately^.
In any case, one of the first books I managed to get through was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire^^. I had read a few much shorter books before hand, but nothing in the fantasy genre. Actually, the only reason I ventured into HP was that my sister had it on a plane ride back from Cyprus, and my Gameboy Colour died en route. So, we shared the book, each reading a chapter. When we landed, my siblings lost interest, and I spent the next three days locked away finishing it.
I devoured it. The moment I got back to school, I found Philosopher’s Stone in the school library and spent every spare moment in there reading it. They also had Prisoner of Azkaban so I read that next. I came down with mumps and swindled my parents into cheering me up with Chamber of Secrets.
It’s funny. I know where I was and how each book came into my life, I think because Harry Potter was such a revolutionary, eye-opening story for me. After HP, I hunted down anything remotely related to magic and fantasy, and it started me on a path of reading which has never diminished, only grown. It made me create my own stories, inspiring a love of writing which became the foundation of my degree and the means by which I made my living.
I have established life-long friendships because of Harry Potter fandom.
On my second date with (now) Husband, we spoke avidly about his dislike for the Harry Potter films in comparison to the books. We spoke about our respective houses^^^ and the fact he once wrote self-insert fanfiction around the wizarding world. I can’t help but feel a significant part of our initial bonding was based on a mutual love of the Harry Potter books. And I know many other couples out there with the same story. Heck, people have Harry Potter themed weddings nowadays.
How many friendships and marriages owe thanks even just in part to this phenomenon?How many ‘reluctant readers’*^, would never have developed a love of reading if this series had never come to light? How many creative pursuits would never have been realised? It’s incalculable.
Yet, even now the world continues, in new movies and plays and even theme parks. The story of one boy’s quest to rid the world of an evil dictator continues to inspire children 20-years since it’s first publication on this day in 1997.
And all because of one woman; a woman who, at the time, was struggling with the weight of everyday life, living in relative poverty, trying to support a young child. One brave woman who had an idea about a boy with a lightning scar. It must have been impossible to even imagine the incredible journey that single boy would take to become the household name he is today. It makes me so proud when I think of her, and so grateful for her giving the world a story so powerful it revolutionised reading and helped define a generation.
Who knew that one day, there wouldn’t be a child in our world who wouldn’t know his name.
Footnotes of Fun
*The feature image is me heading into Platform 9 and 3/4 with a bit of zingity pow in my step. Husband would not jump in his photo…. Husband is the lllaaammmmeeee.
**Shout out to my fellow awesome peeps who battled their own brains to be able to read – we may be slower than most, but studies prove slow readers actually take in and remember stories better than their speedy reading counterparts. *is dancing*.
***Dear Mrs Kramer, I shall forever hold your memory with unwavering gratitude for a) understanding my problem b) taking the extra time and energy to help me understand the problem c) for instilling in me the ability to enjoy reading. Wherever you are Mrs K, I love you (yes love, no shame) and you are the reason this blog exists today. Without you, books and writing would never have become such a core part of who I am. Best. Teacher. Ever.
^Ma spellding is still the suxxx.
^^Fun fact: the first time I read Harry Potter, I did so completely out of order, because I wasn’t aware series were a thing. I read 4,1,3,2 respectively. Before book 7 arrived on the scene I did read 1-6 again in order. I recommend that. Everything makes much more sense and book three isn’t super spoiled because you know Siris is a good guy because you’ve already read 4.
^^^Ravenclaw (*avid cheering*) and Griffindor. Our children will be wise and brave.
*^No shame. I was one for most of my young childhood.
The last few weeks have been busy. The nice kind of busy mostly; the travelling, catching friends for dinner, hiring wedding people kind of busy. In the space of a week, Chris and I ventured to highest Scotland for a wedding, visited Louth to house hunt and wedding plan, dine with friends and family, and then parted ways for respective Stag and Hen parties (same couple, due to marry next month) which would require me to car pool down to Derby for the weekend, and then finally take the train back home to Plymouth.
Did I mention we’re moving? We’re moving. It’s part of the previous blog about big changes. I meant to write a post. When I tried the words tripped over themselves. The emotions are hard, and turned chaotic on the page. I’m sorry.
Now, however, is the period that always precedes a move, particularly a big one, when life becomes the stressy, bittersweet kind of busy, and requires advanced planning, and phone-calls, and ‘goodbye – keep in touch’ conversations, all of which I’m bad at, particularly the last one.
Chris has a processing time much faster than mine; his ability to simply take information and transform it into practical plans and reasonable motives is astonishing. I’m less geared. I need a scheduled slot to allow for emotional unwinding. Before I move I start to see the ghostly visions of all the important aspects of my life which have happened on a particular chair, in a room, in a cafe, in the city. And I’ve lived in Plymouth for nearly ten years.
Did I mention we’re moving out of Plymouth? We’re moving out of Plymouth.
During my childhood, I became accustomed to picking up and moving on. Being a RAF brat will do that to you; we never set roots for very long. Even as a young child I needed emotional end space. ‘This is where I played with Barbie, goodbye place I played with Barbie’ ‘This is where the Christmas Tree was. Goodbye where the Christmas Tree was’. Somewhere in the back of my head, I have a briefcase filled with snapshots of places. I suppose it was to ensure that I would always be connected to them when they ‘belonged’ to me. Memories are fragile. I’ve lost some. I’ve kept a great deal. I’ve done this for places I have lived for years, and places I have lived for months. I thanked friend’s sofas when I was couch hopping during the bad break up phase. It makes it easier to leave.
Honestly, I’m uncertain as to why. I have always done it, and perhaps I always will.
Now I find myself having to collect these mental Polaroids for an entire city. A city I have shifted through for ten years, longer than I have anywhere, at any other time in my life. The prospect of beginning, and thus seeing through, the negotiations of leaving is daunting and unwanted. I wish for a magic button with which to bypass to the difficulty, and be, through no effort, at the next stage. In a house at our new destination, settled and accepting, building.
Life doesn’t come with magic buttons. They would do us no good in any case. Nothing would be learned or gained from such an easy experience. But the childish, afraid part of me wishes it could all be so simple, practically and emotionally.
The key to the above is that I am afraid.
I. Am. Afraid.
Of moving, of failing to know what to do and when, of not doing enough, of losing who I am in this city, this space, and failing to grow into anything in the new one. I’m afraid of being alone in a small town, just south of nowhere, and becoming lost.
Yes, of course, it’s exciting and an adventure, but adventures are often adventures because they’re unpredictable. And unpredictable is also terrifying. I’m sure Frodo had his reservations about taking the ring to Mt Doom. He wasn’t exactly skipping the whole way there. I am willing to bet, Frodo was wishing for a magic button. And he had Gandalf.
Fortunately, I have Chris who is a wizard in many ways with methodologies and keeping things moving. I even have a ring. Let’s hope orcs aren’t on the way.
‘You can never go home again’
It’s a phrase I’ve heard a few times before, but not something I ever took the time to truly consider. Growing up, I didn’t have a fixed home, so I didn’t really understand. I’m not sure when Plymouth became ‘home’. I’ve lived in many places throughout the city – seven in total – and so no individual spot has been the bases of my life, but the city itself has been the constant. I have come to know it intimately. But even in the decade I have been part of it, the city has been in a state of constant change.
Shops have closed, people have moved to other towns in other counties, and the building which used to house my little studio flat, the place where this very blog began, was demolished to make room for a more modern, taller establishment. My friend and I were talking a few weeks ago about having out-grown one of our old haunts, a shabby, quirky student favorite on the outskirts of the city centre where we once enjoyed pints of tea, greasy cheese based meals and monster size milkshakes. This was before we enjoyed a meal at another of our old favourites, which was redesigned some years ago when new ownership took over. There’s a blog post somewhere in the records where we are drinking tea there.
Everything is in a constant flux, shifting and altering with the stream of time. Nothing can ever be the same for very long. I’ve been present for all these changes, and in a sense I’ve been part of them. The girl who started this blog is not the same girl who writes it now. I got somewhat older, arguably wiser, I moved onward with the city. And now I am tasked with the step of moving away from it, knowing it will continue to bustle on.
The memories I have gathered here will join the box in my mind, they will be as they are, unchangeable, but the places they occurred will continue to be sold, occupied by others, closed, demolished, come under new management or become something else. It is the inevitability of all things, all places at all times. But the saying is right. I can never go home again. It won’t be be there anymore.
So, for a little while, I will be without a home, save my own skin. Then will begin the task of creating a new home. Before all that comes leaving, and endings, and changing of chapters. That’s another popular phrase – it’s not the end of the book, simply the beginning of a new chapter. But the pages have yet to be turned, the content unfolded, as yet unwritten. And soon, Plymouth will be a once upon a time – something I tell my children, show them perhaps on a holiday south to see the sea. ‘This is where I did this,’ I will say, ‘And that happened to me there. This was once a that.’ I’ll draw the Polaroids from the box and share them briefly, looking back on today now, when everything was so uncertain.
So, now commences the ending before the beginning; the final visits to favourite places, fond farewells to companions. Peering back in the rear-view mirror of a life passing out of time into memory.
For now I am simply afraid and excited about the adventure to come.
The world has been hinting at the beginnings of change recently.
I suppose it all began when I became engaged* a few weeks ago now. For the first few weeks after Chris asked me to marry him, I was on the ceiling with joy. In the celebratory period post receiving the big diamond there’s a lot of joy inducing events. Telling your parents**, getting messages and cards, eating self-declared ‘hey-we’re-enegaged-red-velvet-because-red-is-for-love’ cake***. Seriously, it’s an amazing feeling. Then reality decided it was time to halt the fun.
I’m not sure if this happens to all brides-to-be post engagement, as I don’t have a frame of reference, but if it does no body warned me about it. It happened to me though. I caught sight of myself in the mirror while pondering my future wedding, and quite suddenly, I was hit by the realisation that I was going to be someone’s wife. I have named this phenomenon ‘the post proposal kick in the adult’.
For the first time, getting married wasn’t a abstract idea I had dreamed up for future, grown-up Alice. I was/am grown-up Alice. Realising that, made me feel as though I should be a big strong adult. Which I am not^. In many, many ways, I’m not even close. I have small successes; I fill in my tax return and pay those taxes on time, I manage to hoover once a week, and I don’t eat ice-cream for every meal, every day, which believe it or not was something I actually thought I would do when I was four. But, I’m not an adult in the sense I hoped I would be by now.
Adults are supposed to know what they’re doing. Adults are supposed to have a clue about what they really want to do with their lives. Adults are supposed to have made significant life achievements based on clear, concise goals. If you’re keeping score, I am none for three.
It was only after all those adult successes that I was meant to bump into the love of my life and have him ask to marry me. I was supposed to beguile him with stories about how my clear, concise goals, led me to my true purpose in life. Instead, I managed to somehow beguile him with TV show and video game references, and endless rants about books. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful he did bump into me when he did, but part of me feels like I cheated. I skipped a few stages of being an adult.
Now, I find myself wondering what I do want from life. My clear, concise goals are muddy and haphazard at best.
Then life really started to kick some hints into me. Soon after my engagement, I was hurt by a friend – and I have no idea how to deal with it. Yep. I, a grown ass woman of nearly 28^^, is unsure how to tell a friend she really hurt me with something she did. That’s another loss in the adult. For those keeping score, I’m none for four. But I’m getting off-topic. I’ll keep you posted on the friend-hurt-me scenario. Let’s continue.
My job is winding down to probable closure in the next few months. Normally, that would be terrifying, especially for me, an anxiety-ridden, over-analyzing, crazy woman. I can get myself half-crazed about the consequences of not paying a bill on time, usually the idea of not having a job^^^ freaks me out. I’ve lived on bread-lines even with employment, in tiny rooms with nothing but cheap cans of soup and loving donations for food. This should, by the laws of nature, scare me. Except it doesn’t. Not at all.
So much has changed in my life over the past few years; I moved twice, I met Chris, I somehow duped him into falling in love with me, I left jobs, I had no job, I got another job, I’ve been on many miles of trips. I blinked and being an adult just happened without much input from me.
And I have had some incredible experiences; stories I’m glad I’ll be able to tell for years to come^*. Now, though, I feel like I should be taking life by the reigns a little more, actively discovering what I want, aiming for dreams, making big decisions, maybe even, big changes. Because, being an adult is nearly as terrifying as it used to be. I’ve been adulting for many years without much effort, and even when I’ve screwed up spectacularly, I’ve always landed on my feet. Albeit my landing is often wobbly, but I’ve conquered a lot of difficulties and lived to tell the tale.
I’m beginning to think being an adult is more about bravery and faith. Bravery enough to make important choices even though life is fraught with unpredictability, and faith enough to know that even if the walls cave in around you, somehow you’ll come through alright in the end. Maybe it’s just time for me to start making brave choices rather than just letting choices find me.
Even is that means starting again somewhere. Even if that means no job security and little pay. Even if that means giving up what you’ve become accustomed to in the pursuit of something desired but unlikely. It’s about deciding to take the next step in life before you have to, before you need to, just because you want to, even though it might change everything, even though it might unwind through your fingers like a pulled thread.
I think it’s time I got brave enough to make some big decisions for myself and for our future together. Brave enough to suggest moving onward into uncertainty. Maybe then I’ll feel adult enough to be a married lady, to be a wife.
Or maybe I won’t. There are no guarantees*^.
*Am I using this as an excuse to casually slip in that I’m engaged? Yes, but it does fit in with the story. I’m not proud… but I am engaged. Hey, look, just did it again. This might continue for the next few posts. Just think about how bad it will be when I actually get married.
**Who, incidentally, already knew what was coming, because Chris followed the rules of asking for my hand by requesting my father’s permission before-hand. At Easter apparently. Okay… apparently a lot of these notes are going to be I’m engaged related, but I promise the point of the post is not that I am engaged. Which I am. Engaged. …. I’ll try to stop.
***Patent pending. Believe it or not, when we were picking the cake, Chris actually said “red velvet is red, and red is for love”. Thus the name was coined.
^But I am engaged. Sorry, last one.
^^^Sidenote: The prospect of not having a job has happened three times in my life, including this one. The first time I had already picked the box I was going to live in on Plymouth’s cold, rain-soaked streets. I was going to befriend a raccoon and go on happy-go-lucky adventures as a love-able street urchin, only older. …. Maybe I should count that as a missed opportunity.Sometimes I wonder where Target-Tail the raccoon is without me. I hope he’s happy.
^*Many of which I still haven’t told my hypothetical audience. Hey! There’s an idea. I could regale you guys with stories from my not-blogging stuff I should blog days. Wouldn’t that be fun? … Guys? Or I’ll just save it for the future kids. Whatever.
*^ Right Rinoa? Do all my FF peeps remember that one? Obscure video game references make me seem so much more adult, no?
When I was a child (perhaps 8 at most) I was sitting in the living room of our then house playing* while my dad was watching a film set in what must have been Victorian times. I was slipping in and out of attention to it, as kids do, but I remember being struck by a scene in which a dashing gentleman asked an aging dignitary if he could have his daughter’s hand.
“Why does he want a hand?”
“It means he wants to marry that man’s daughter,” replied my dad.
“Oh. Why is he asking? Why doesn’t he just marry her?”
“It’s traditional to get a daddy’s permission** before a man asks a lady to marry him.”
“Oh. Does that mean if a man wants to marry me, he needs to ask you for my hand?”
“Yes, but don’t worry, I’ll make him take the rest of you as well.”
Thus began a list of stipulations in my young mind about what my future paramour would have to do before I would agree to wed him. Obviously, as was proper, he would have to seek and gain my father’s approval and permission. I have always trusted my father would never sanction any man he deemed unfit to be my husband. As I grew up I began to understand that this was an out-dated, actually rather un-feminist tradition based more on the idea of passing property and status than a girl’s happiness, but my heart clung to it. For me, if the man who had raised me and protected me, and loved me without condition, gave his go-ahead, I felt I really must be in safe hands. And so it has remained an important part of any proposal, and I have let all possible suitors*** know this.
I have always reserved the right to say ‘try again’ if he lacked the courtesy of getting down on one knee. I mean… right?
Lastly, a speech. It didn’t have to be saccharine or long, just sincere and conveying the reasons why marriage (and marriage to me in particular) is an important step he is now ready to take. And why he thinks I should be ready to take it to.
Just three non-optional stipulations a man had to overcome to ‘win my hand’^. In a book I love, a character tells her partner, in no uncertain terms, that before he can ask to marry her, he must achieve three great deeds. I would much rather fight the dragons and walk the darkness with the man I love rather than have him do it for me, but I consider these three stipulations rather like the ‘great deeds’ a man must complete to earn his right to get a ‘yes’. Maybe not a feminist or modern-age way of doing these things, but hey-ho, there you go.
Of course, outside of those mandatory stipulations, I harbored hopes about how a man would propose to me. I wanted to be surprised, and swept of my feet. I wanted it to be perfect for us. I wanted special and magic and beautiful.
And then it happened.
I expected so much to happen when I was proposed to; I believed it would be important, where and when and how it happened; the speech, the candles and flowers, the ring^^, and romance. Really though, as soon as the question is out and around you, the only significant factor of a proposal: the person.
The truth is in the quiet moment that follows, when your heart jumps and then stops, when your voices catches in your breath, the place and time fade into the background, until you’re left with a human being kneeling before you waiting on one word.
Here before me was a person who had walked into my life just over two years ago, and started adding stuff, like magic and adventure and laughter and swords^^^, and all the really important stuff, like support and fun and generosity and courage and acceptance and kindness. And understanding. He just seemed to get all the less admirable qualities in me – all the bad anxiety days when I would withdraw, or cry, or find nothing good in myself or sometimes even the world. And he would come and hold me, or just be still and silent with me, or remind me why I have value and show me just a smidgen^* of the beauty in other people and the world. He can just make me laugh, no matter what mood I’m in; I can be drenched in my own tears and snot, or so worried my heart is beating too fast and he will say or do something which forces me to smile. I really am not sure how; I believe it’s just a wonderful aspect of who he is.
Here before me was my partner. Someone who had stood beside me during the dark days of both our lives. Someone who was always honest about our relationship, about our future and about his past. Someone who both trusted me with his broken bits and could be trusted with mine. Whenever some difficultly arises in our relationship, I always know I can speak honestly about it, when I am calm and ready, and be listened to and valued, and I have been amazed at how my comments are met with genuine understanding, and an active effort to better the problem which is instant and consistent. I see him making the effort to create lasting harmony between us, and I am always grateful for someone who believes in us enough to do so.
I saw this person who had been so easy to love from the beginning, the process of which had been as wonderful and as simple as stepping out into a beautiful morning, in the honey glow of a summer day, colours so much more vivid. Everything about is had been gentle and private – our meeting, our first kiss, our goodbyes and reunions, and all the little everyday adventures, going on holiday, making dinner, talking well past bed time about everything from the NFL to books and writing. Whatever we did was better because we were together. That’s all we needed. Just us.
It was no different when it came to the proposal. On an ordinary morning on May 28th*^, as gentle as as simple as all our engagements, Chris decided to ask if I would marry him, and that was all that mattered.
Did I want to be with this person for the rest of my life?
No. Not just the rest of my life.
A lifetime wasn’t nearly long enough. Forever could never be long enough to love and be with him.
So, I said yes.
*Probably Barbie was rescuing my little pony figures from the peril of my sister’s action man villains. Or possibly they were hosting a party with the villains. I can’t remember exactly.
**And I remember being extremely proud of myself that I knew what that meant.
***Two. There have only ever been two serious suitors who might ask for my hand in marriage, and one of them, I am pretty sure, would have received a resounding ‘no’ when he asked my father.
^And the rest of me too.
^^The ring, just by the way, genuinely struck me as incredible. Chris, all credit to him, managed, by himself, to venture into the jungle of engagement rings and strike gold. Now, I must admit here, I doubted him. Just a little. Simply because he is a man with little care to artistic design. Yet, I don’t think I could have chosen a better ring myself. So, bravo, Chris, bravo. I shall never doubt your jewellery picking ability again. But also, now you have no excuse for not buying me jewellery. …. I get to squeal about the ring.
^^^Both metaphorically and actual. There is a real sword in our living room, which has become the point of focus for many guests, and which sometimes I remove carefully and use to duel the powers of darkness while riding my imaginary dragon. I always win.
^*There’s a word I don’t think we as a society use enough ‘smidgen’ – say it lots. It’s kinda fun.
*^Yep, it’s taken me that long to get this post written. No sign of those Winchester blogs I promised yet either. It’s a wonder I have any hypothetical audience at all.
I’ve been away for a while. Hello again, hypothetical audience.
Unfortunately, I have been pondering and rethinking and contemplating again, which is ever a danger to the consistency of my posts, but here is my conclusion to the fate of this site.
I started this blog at the age of 21, an age of assertive naivete. The world, having run on a similar track most of my life, was coming to a new station, a point at which I would have to make headway without much of a predetermined plan. I was in the midst of after University stoop, believing I was more responsible and grown-up than I think anyone really is just past their teen years. But I was wrapped up in a strange ‘rest-of-my-life-ahead’ optimism, and a tentative idea of what I wanted. And thus, in perhaps a self-indulgent means of recording my raise into adulthood, this blog was born.
Since it’s conception the content has changed many times, for many different reasons. I’m not going to bore you with the backlog. I realize that in all the chops and changes this blog has undergone, one thing has remained consistent: I have always been presenting a front. More than once (as with recently) it has become an empty space, either through my laziness, or weariness, or uncertainty towards it. Meanwhile, my life continued to flow whether I used it or not, and despite my initial intention of trying to chronicle my living, whenever I felt something made me ‘lose face’ I deliberately either didn’t write about it or skewered my reactions to favour a better presentation of myself. I suppose what I’m saying is, I was never really very honest with you or myself about the way matters played out sometimes. I wanted a happy, easy, interesting blog and that’s what I wrote. In some cases more than others, but always hovering behind my words like an echo, is some degree of falsehood.
I have worn this blog like a mask for my future self, I suppose, spurred by youthful pride and a fear of regret. It’s odd really, I used my own name for a title, but not my true self for content.
During the recent vacant space, I turned 27, marking the passage of six years since the start of blogging. Time has provided me with better self-awareness and presence than I have possessed before. Buddhist practice has wilted a lot of my pride, meaning I’m less inclined to present a version of me which isn’t real. For perhaps the first time, I feel like a true adult, in the sense that I think about what that means. I’m better at facing problems honestly and less dramatically, and taking some responsibility for issues which have held me back in the past.
These days I’m not so worried about who I am ‘supposed’ to be and what I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing. And while I still have confidence to build and a future to define, I’m at a stage of odd peace. And I think I could write life more honestly too.
I think at some point, we grow into ourselves, and I think I’ve really started to do this now. So, maybe it’s better to document that era, rather than continue (or not) with constantly fluctuating ramblings I have been doing. I think I can be more honest now, more humble in my approach, without too much panic about how often I do so.
For now, I’ll try to treat this site as what it was always supposed to be really, a way of connecting past with future, of recording my life to look back on. Only now, I think I’ll actually be able to do that, rather than trying to change on a whim for unrealistic reasons.
Now seems like as good a time as any to try.
As a little girl, like many a little girl, I often reveled in fairy tales, particularly stories in which brave women overcome unfortunate circumstances to earn their happy endings. Granted the heroines are often products of their time and, yes, some take a background role to their own rescue, but I still believe the tales have wonderful, unmatched value in the way we understand magic and beauty. Despite protests and feminists arguments against her, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Cinderella.
The story of Cinderella is known the world over; there are hundreds upon thousands of different cultural interpretations and re-tellings. Traditionally, storytellers focus on the goodness and patient nature of the protagonist, but more modern adaptations spend time developing a stronger, determined character willing and able to change her life prince or no. In my opinion, all these various have their value, but I think the strength of the story is held within some underlying facts.
Even as a young child I always admired Cinderella’s ability to negate misfortune with kindness and determination, and the simple belief that these virtues are rewarded in their own time. I know she comes under a lot of flack for being the damsel in distress who just wishes for a rescue and gets it, but I never really saw it that way. To me, Cinderella represented how important it is to let good things happen to you, and to find hope and belief even when times are tough. The story shows how to find patience even to those who are hurtful towards you, and not to give up when all your effort seems worthless. It solidified to me that sometimes when you do the best with what you’ve got, and eventually you get a little help from the Universe when the time is right.
In real life, of course, you have to find a way to be your own fairy godmother.
The truth is, in recent months I have had reason to feel incredibly lucky, blessed my good fortune to the point of being afraid to believe it’s real. I’m currently sat in my bedroom on a warm summer evening, a cool breeze blowing the scent of freshly cut grass through the window, looking at the dress I will wear to a ball in a few weeks time. The dress was purchased for me by the man who will escort me to the event, a wonderful man, who is patient and understanding, kind, loyal and courageous, worthy of the title prince. In my preparations sometimes I get bogged down with the idea that I have to live up to the fairy tale.
Remember that moment in the Disney version of Cinderella, when she arrives at the palace in her magic gown and class slippers, steps into the ballroom, and the whole room stops to notice her walk towards the prince and they dance? I’m not specifying I want anything like that to happen; I wouldn’t covert the attention of an entire room like that; I don’t believe I hold glamour enough to accomplish it and I care not for the judgement of others in that respect… save one. It would be nice if I could make just one jaw drop. The only jaw that matters to me.
But the dress is too big and must be altered, and I have yet to find someone free and skilled enough to help with make up and beauty treatments, areas which I am neither confidant nor competent with. Suddenly, I am thrust into the role of my own fairy godmother, performing magic through my efforts and getting my vision to come true, believing that if I keep trying hard enough, the matters will work themselves out. However.
Even the details fail, and the dress is still too big or too small, and my make up is a handmade mess, and my hair falls short of grand by miles, then the key is to find joy beyond the dashed expectations, don my invisible crown, hold my head high, knowing I did everything I could to be everything I hoped for. Smile, and hope that single gesture can push through the happiness I feel at just being there and experiencing a moment I have dreamed since as far back as I can remember. Because the real dream, the best one, already happened, a few months ago in a single moment, when I first laid eyes of him, and dared to say ‘hello’. That’s real magic; it doesn’t come packaged as balls and dresses and a pretty made up moment, but in tiny moments of courage and hope, when you break the mold and push for something you want, when you put a bit more kindness or joy into the world, even when you feel sad and lonely.
Just like Cinderella, that one moment of magic will catch you, often and only when you never even saw it coming.
Sometimes I wish I owned a supernatural spanner with the power to fix anything. I bet a lot of people wish for this tool daily, because there’s so much in the world that needs fixing; big, important things which affect millions of innocent human beings every moment of everyday. However, I’ll admit, on this particular day I am being selfish. I want a spanner to help repair issues pertaining to me and those close to me. I need an Alice’s life fixing spanner, and they don’t sell them at local hardware shops as far as I know.
This post is a little self-pitying, and given my recent vow not to dwell on self-pity I guess I’m breaking some rules, but I need to get this out somehow, and this is currently my only ear.
I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know how to mend the broken bridges, or make up for the mistakes, because I don’t really know what the mistakes are. Am I being sensible or prideful? Am I acting with anger, hiding itself in the subconscious recesses of my mind? Again, I can’t distinguish the truth in my own head, and I’m beginning to doubt there is one. I hate when the truth is so blurred behind the humanness of a situation, it’s hard to conceive of a concrete meaning. Not understanding, not being able to root out the core of the rot inside is the worst part.
So, yes, today I want the spanner, today I am tired of the uncertainty. It’s clear to me that of course no such magical tool of selfish wonder exists, and usually the only duct tape to life is time and elbow grease, but I’m not sure I have that in me right now. I can’t fix it all.
There’s no moral today, no philosophical pondering. I just wanted to admit that I can’t fix it and I don’t know what to do.