We had been wearing our "Just Married" pins everywhere, given
to us when we checked into Disney's Port Orleans resort. Because of
this, people did extra things for us, such as a lunch counter cashier
at MGM-Disney, who folded a paper napkin into a rose. Park employees
(or cast members, as they're called) and attendees wished us congratulations
everywhere we went. In one restaurant, we were treated to a complimentary
glass of champagne, and in another, the chef wrote "congratulations"
in chocolate on our dessert plate. I felt like Cinderella. My Fairy
Godmother had sprinkled me with magic dust, and suddenly, I was the
belle of the ball.
We'd really seen the difference during the day we spent at the Universal
Studios theme park. There, the staff seemed bored, snapping gum and
joking with each other rather than paying attention to customers. The
lines were long, unless you were willing to pay extra for a special
pass. After a day of being treated as just another income stream, the
welcoming smiles at Disney seemed magic, indeed.
The contrast was as striking as the contrast between my first husband,
The Seeker, a schizophrenic hippie who left me to heed the call of the
road; and my second husband, The Gryphon, as kindhearted and wise as
the storytelling character in Alice in Wonderland, one of my
favorite childhood books.
To extend that analogy, marriage to The Seeker was like standing in
line in the hot sun with loud drunkards, all for the promise of brief
bouts of happiness. Marriage to The Gryphon, in our year together so
far, has been as filled with wonder as the Peter Pan ride; yet, as smooth
as a trip on the monorail. Eat your heart out, Minnie.
I'll never forget a conversation we had when we were first dating.
We had yet to declare our love for each other, but we were talking about
romance in a general way. I told him that I simply didn't believe in
love anymore; I'd had too many bad experiences. He gave me a look of
earnestness and said, "But you've just got to believe." My
inner theme music swelled.
So here we were on our honeymoon, and I was standing next to the sweetest,
most supportive guy I've ever met: thoughtful, funny, open-minded, intelligent;
as close to Prince Charming as I could ever hope to find (if Prince
Charming watched anime and played role-playing games). Yet inside, I
still felt, sometimes, like the ash-covered girl in rags. Did I really
deserve all this buoyant joy? Was it just a dream that would vanish
at the stroke of midnight?
The Gryphon looked down and saw me crying. He hugged me close.
"It's all so beautiful," I told him. Inside, I reminded myself: