What does Happily Ever After look like in this day and age? In 1931 it looked like a house with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids and a dog. Has this quaint image been replaced with a doorman, a condo on the 22nd floor and a single child with a weekend vacation house? Has the trusty dog graduated into an accessory with his own Louis Vuitton carrier? To think, in mainland China families break the law to have more than one child yet we, here in America, relish in our freedom to choose to have just one. Choices are grand.
We live in a kaleidoscopic world of occupying, job hunting and tea partying. But at the end of the day it comes down to what we work for, what inspires us. The war is over, our food is reinforced with corn matter and they say having a job is the new black. Fortunately, we still appreciate art, go to movies and fall in love. We still pray and we still don’t.
It seems to be the human condition to want more than the people before you, before your parents and before their parents. And more than the other people you went to college with. McMansions, big alimony checks and weekend pool boys are being fed down our idealistic throats with the big media spoon. But perhaps it remains as it has always been, finding that modicum of happiness in a difficult but brilliant world. I doubt what we look for today is all that different from what people at the end of any human empire looked for; it’s merely in the details.
Being a human is hard. Being an animal is harder. Being a polar bear is really hard so be thankful you’ve pulled the human race card. Being a woman is an interesting proposition. For better or worse, it’s become a ‘take whatever side of the social equation you’d like’ ideology. A home cooked meal has become more of an exception than a rule and you actually have to take your car to the shop for an oil change instead of having your boyfriend do it on a Sunday afternoon. We’ve become more convenient and yet more complicated.
Back in the day, a woman would raise five kids, do the laundry by hand and cook three large sit down meals a day. Raising a child is different now. We get nannies, diaper genies and restaurants to deliver us food so we can finish last hour emails and place that final ebay bid. Plus you’re not allowed to punish your children anymore, or say no to them. Imagine the new generation of yes loving single children about to inherit the earth. Yes! Maybe they will save us.
We now hire people to help run the small companies we call “our lives” and we have also somehow agreed to a hand shake deal of sleeping together on the 3rd date. Now men don’t need to marry us. And we don’t ask them to. But until we can spoon ourselves or God forbid, reproduce without each other, we will always be the much needed sun for each other’s tans. We want each other, whether by quality or quantity. Always have and always will.
As much as we want to think we’ve changed, woman still beautify themselves and men still want our appreciation. No matter the political climate or size of your pool; our emotional core still feeds our souls. We laugh, we cry, we hurt, we kill, we love, we protect and we do our best to save. Maybe Happily Ever After is not the picketed fence ideal that society has defined for us but a metaphorical suggestion that we, ourselves, must fill in the blanks for, in this day and age, over and over again.