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Live where you fear to live.*

July 10, 2013 9 comments

“Heart on fire, ashes everywhere
— there’s no return from a red like that.”
~Fado Menor by Manuel de Freitas

it doesn’t matter. it never did. it is for the best.

these are the lies we tell ourselves when the world gets dark. when the stars in our souls begin to explode, and our hearts feel impossibly like tinder. the match is always ready. it is foolish to think otherwise. even if your skin feels like the ocean, it will still burn. likewise, a promise made of water means nothing and everything in the desert. always, when it’s night, the monsters come out. the mirror is a monster in its own right. do not place your hand on it, and whisper a name at midnight.

sometimes, it hurts too much. a gasp for air, only to find the ocean swimming into your lungs. sometimes, it isn’t the pain that kills, but a possibility, unexpected. an idea, like an earthquake, shatters the foundation underneath your feet. trouble is, the fault line is in your fingertips. trouble is, the wreckage begins with a smile gone plastic around the edges. a false start that turns into something endless.

but this is not how things end. this is how they begin – coupled with the wrong pronouns, a missed train, a late arrival, a doorbell that rings. happenstance and heartbeats, the way a hand lingers on your back, or your shoulder, living there like sunlight. this is the wayward grace of a window, the promise of green and tomorrow – and tomorrow. this is waking up, with crazy hair and nothing on.

say yes. say love. say please.

then, take a deep breath. then, wait.

this is why we run, hearts filled up with hurricanes. this is how we reappear, with our smiles full of simple magic. this is when we remember who we are, answering the ringing question – who do you think you are? – with a fierce truth.

this is how we are consumed by fire, nurtured by water, lifted by air, and grounded by earth. this is untied hands. this is hope that smells like copper. this is a sunrise that tastes like childhood. this is the way a kiss unravels every lie.

it does matter. it always did. it always will.

*line from the poet Rumi

as we are

April 30, 2013 Leave a comment

 

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the ways people disappoint us. I’m not compiling some kind of asshole masterlist; I’m just considering it. Things have been odd, lately. Not hellfire bad, but certain things feel off. Certain people feel—or are—out of touch. Certain elements of life are strangely out of place. It’s like a puzzle you’ve completed a hundred times – but now you’re blindfolded and all the pieces are flipped over. It’s a lot harder to accomplish anything, to figure things out, when you can’t see.

Logical, right? Call me Captain Obvious! Or don’t. There’s only one captain, and his name is Mal. Oh, captain – my captain. *ahem* Moving on…

No one likes feeling as if they’re unimportant. As if they’re easy to be pushed to the side. No one likes being made to feel small. No one. Sometimes, on rare occasions, we allow people to trample all over us. The reasons are varied. We love someone. We are used to taking the blame. We make excuses. We think it’s a fluke. But it’s not. And we don’t put a foot down. We just accept it, because – hey, he/she doesn’t meant to do it.

But he/she doesn’t mean not to, either.

That’s the thing: if it’s a one-off instance, fine. Twice, okay. But if it’s habitual? Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to motherfrakkin’ relationship JAIL.

I realize that I’m making a number of wretched generalizations. I realize that there are reasons people do things – reasons that often have nothing to do with us and everything to do with them. But the truth is that no one likes feeling like second place, or like a consolation prize. Or like something that someone will get to when they get to it. On a whim. Whenever they feel like it. Because, yeah, that says, hey, my time is more important than yours. That says, I don’t care enough. Not, notice, that they don’t care. But that they don’t care enough.

To me, it seems that there are two kinds of people: those who don’t care enough and those who care too much. There’s really no middle ground, emotionally speaking. There are tricky people, sure – the ones who don’t SEEM to care too much, but it’s all just a cover for the gaping maw of feelings that is their heart. There are people who talk a good talk, but then it’s just useless, wind-bound words.

I suppose this begs the question of which is worse: caring too much or not giving a damn? For me, I’d rather feel a shit-ton of pain, cry, scream, rage, and wail – than not. I’d rather care too much than have a cold heart. Or not try. I’d rather fling myself into a figurative volcano. I’d rather a mad, beautiful moron – than a person made of bricks. I’d rather give chances than be unable to trust.

I’d rather say yes, instead of no. I’d rather pick up the phone, instead of letting it ring. I’d rather ask, than not know. I’d rather do the ridiculous, insane thing – instead of doing nothing. It occurs to me, lately, that I don’t know how to do anything by halves. There is no halfway. I don’t do reserved.

But other people do. And it’s hard, I think, to judge people differently than we judge ourselves. There’s an unfortunate sadness that comes with that kind of realization. We understand things as we are. We see them as we are (somewhere, Nin is scoffing at my bastardization of her quote). That is human nature.

But, to quote from Into the Woods, “nice is different than good.” And sometimes, it’s not enough to not MEAN to do something. Or not mean to make someone feel bad. You have to actively pay attention to how someone else might feel. Intention matters, yes. But actions, darlings…actions are how we judge the feelings we cannot quantify.

someone else’s story

April 13, 2013 Leave a comment

 

“Just knowing you exist changed the world for me.” — Tiffanie DeBartolo

There are days where we are part of an unseen whole. It is what it is – and we are what we are. There’s a kind of chaotic peace that comes with that realization. It is a song born of restlessness, a passion born of four leaf clovers and enough heat to exact change from iron. Call it a recognition of things beyond fact, a weighing of that which is beyond measure. The label is a pale thing, comparatively. It identifies, without being. It is a piece of paper, nothing more.

I am many things, but conditional and fickle is not among them. This doesn’t mean I don’t have questions. This doesn’t mean that I’m okay. This doesn’t mean I’m not upset. But that’s the thing about love – real love – you can be angry at something someone did, but still hold them in your heart. Love, in a way, is always a test. Two people who are truly in love cannot stay angry with each other for very long, because the good feelings always win out. The heart is calibrated for forgiveness, for making up, for tipping the scales. Mine does not hold a grudge. It does not know how. And life, really, is too short for that.

Know this: everyone is a hostage of his own heart. I am a willing, foolish victim of its tyrannical ways. You are a moth, desperate to avoid the flame you so desire. Or perhaps you are the flame. Or perhaps you are the fear. It doesn’t matter. Love allows for the mess. The silences, the stumbling, the Captain Morgan at three am, when you have to be at work by seven. Love is a second cup of coffee in the morning. Love is a phone call at 6:30 am. Love is there, even when the light’s off. Even when your back is turned. Even when you try to pry it out of your heart. This is not a lesson. This is just the truth.

We all make mistakes. Sometimes, we all run from love. But on the best, most insane days – we fight for it. We take a stand. We stop bluffing, and blundering, and coming up with reasons made of matchsticks. There are days where we are part of an unseen whole, where even the sunlight is a reminder of things we have been.

But this is not my story. This is not your story. This is an anniversary that hasn’t happened yet. This is someone else’s love letter. This is the truth within the lie.

sunlight

undone

February 3, 2013 Leave a comment

 

I love you
the words began as a bomb,
before turning into a key,
a lock undone without a sound,
no whispers,
just a sudden rush of air
to announce that everything is
different.

wanted: everything

August 31, 2012 5 comments

I am holding back. I am holding things in. Lately, my hands are tied. It doesn’t matter why. It just matters that is what is. I do not do well in circumstances like that. I am struggling to keep myself I check, instead of rebelling against the bindings. My first instinct is to fight, even though I am not one who picks fights without reason. However, thinking about it, I am not sure what’s right. I am not sure how to approach certain things. I am unsure of what to disclose and what to hold back. So, it makes me stupid and silent – and a thousand other awkward things that I am, generally, not.

I think it was Sylvia Plath who said that when we are wanting everything, it’s because we are so dangerously close to wanting nothing. And I don’t buy that. I don’t think the line between yes and no is that thin, that easily crossed. I’m always emphatically on one side or the other, the line made of neon and hand grenades. I cross it deliberately when the reason is there. I’m not shy about it. I’m never uncertain in my loyalties or gestures. I don’t leave things up for debate.

And yet…there are so many things I have yet to say. So many truths I am keeping in. I tend to hold things in until I cannot, then I blurt. I’m looking for an opportunity to get things out, but it’s like searching for a light switch with a blindfold on: there’s no telling when it might be found. I just don’t know what to do with these words swimming dangerously underneath my skin.

I feel caged. That is always a dangerous feeling for me. The truth is that I do what everything. I want so many things. I do not how hard I am supposed to push. I do not know the balance there. It’s moments like this where I wish my mother were here. Because I feel like she’d know. She’d at least understand. I just…don’t. You see, for a Libra, I am supposed to be a creature of balance. Except I rarely am. I am never maybe. Once I decide, there’s rarely ever any turning back.

But lately, the mantra seems to be life is weird. Any time something odd has happened in the past few weeks, and it’s been OFTEN, my BFF and I look at each other and go, “Life is weird.” Because it is. Sometimes, there’s just no explanation for someone’s behavior. Sometimes, I am floored that I’m STILL surprised by human nature. I shouldn’t be.

Recently, it is the inconsistency that baffles me the most. The certainty, wrapped in confusion, lightly coated in maybe. It’s a world of paradoxes. And yes, maybe this would be easier if my mother was here, or maybe I would still be this confused. Perhaps I am complicating my own life.

I do not want maybe. I want the exact certainty I offer. I want yes. I want assurances. I want promises. I want a thousand things. Too often I am considering the other perspective, when maybe I need to be a little selfish. Something about that always feels wrong.

I do not know. I only know that I’d like the chance to straighten out the crooked bits. I’d like to be more honest than I’ve been, because I’m all heart and no sense. Because, at my core, I’m all love and no reason. Because I would rather dive in, instead of running. I do not run away, even when it might be easier. I only run if I’m running toward something.

Perhaps the difficult reality is this: the decision is not mine to make. Perhaps I am not the one in control and flailing about helps nothing. Perhaps I should step back and let the chips fall where they may.

I am done holding back. This is precisely why I don’t play poker: I cannot keep my cards close to my chest. It doesn’t matter if they’re aces or a crappy hand. Almost always, I throw them face up on the table. And I never bluff.

The Importance of Discourse: Stop Shouting, and Start Speaking

May 31, 2012 1 comment

I love discourse. I love a good discussion. For me, it’s a learning tool. And, as someone who studied English lit for her MA, it’s a necessity. Participation was roughly 95% percent of my soul grade. You had to form an opinion/interpretation and back it up with the text itself (or scholarly research etc). As long as you could do that, your interpretation was considered valid. For instance, you couldn’t just INSIST that the protagonist in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper went crazy due to a miscarriage (this was an actual argument someone presented). While it would make the story infinitely more interesting, the text itself didn’t back up the argument. The analysis wasn’t valid, but the person did conduct herself in a reasonable manner. She presented her argument, listened to the rebuttal, offered reasons why she thought that, and everyone in the room learned something from that discussion. (Side-note: I loved her idea and wanted her interpretation to be true.)

She did not flip out, insist we were all wrong, point fingers, and mutter that we were all evil slaves to the patriarchy. She did not repeatedly rant about how her interpretation was MUCH better than everyone else’s. She didn’t rail at us, talk down to us, or suggest we drink her Kool-Aid. If she had, we would’ve all stopped listening. Because, as a writer or a lit student, what you SAY is just as important as HOW you say it.

Which brings me to my point: don’t be a douchebag. If you have something to say, fantastic. Please do. The internet, as you well know, is your pulpit. You can educate the masses, make people laugh, or write something so beautiful that people cry. (The highest compliment a writer can get, sometimes.) Having a big fanbase is great. People are already inclined to listen to you, rather than see you as the crazy guy on the corner shouting about the publishing apocalypse. (CLUTCH YOUR EREADER AND YOUR BIBLES! THE END IS NEAR!)

You see, once you stop talking about the reasons why something is awesome – and start flinging around mud, big words, and vitriol – people start to edge away. You can be perfectly, awesomely RIGHT – and still be wrong. Having a discussion is distinctly different from listing the reasons why the other guy is completely, utterly, stupidly wrong. You know what? We get enough of that in political campaigns. When you start telling me that Stephen King is SO WRONG, because of [whatever*] – I stop listening. And the thing is, I want to listen. I want to learn. I want to understand the changing landscape of the literary world, but I don’t want to drink the Kool-Aid, wear black Nikes, or worry that Charles Manson might be your prison-based penpal.

Stop ripping the other guy and tell me why I should believe you. Better yet: tell me why [insert belief here] worked for you. Don’t tell me why it’s the ONLY way. Don’t insist that it’s how things SHOULD always be. Let me reach my own conclusion.

Here’s the hard truth: I don’t care how people get their books. I don’t give a damn if you’re an ereader junkie, a paperback princess/prince, or an audiobook aficionado. You know what I care about? I care that you READ. To each, his own. Personally, I love books. I love stacking them in corners when I run out of bookshelves, space under the bed, or room in my closet. I love the way they smell and the fact that I can scribble in the margins. I love shoving one in my purse everywhere I go. But you know what? I’d love to get an ereader for vacations. Because I end up with more books than shoes in my suitcase. Imagine how much I could read if I wasn’t limited to what I could carry? I’m gleefully dancing at the thought of the limitless possibilities. I would read ALL THE THINGS.

The same principle goes for publishing. I don’t care if you self-publish through Amazon, publish through their imprint, get a six-book deal from [large publisher name redacted], or Kinko your own zine. Self-publishing is a great idea. (Full disclosure: I self-published a book of poetry through them. I had realistic expectations – which is that it wouldn’t sell three million copies. I knew what I was getting into and why I was doing it. That instance, for me, was a win. So many people have great success at it. *eyes Denise Grover Swank*) But self-publishing isn’t for everyone. That’s a fact. If you’re an unknown, without an audience base, it’s really difficult to build an audience or get the attention of people who aren’t already paying attention to you (either because they know you personally, or connections you’ve made via social media – which, in my opinion, is a godsend of awesomeness). Grand success stories, without a previously established reader base, are rare. If they weren’t, we’d all be Amanda Hocking – who, by the way, worked her ASS off to get where she is today.

But, back to the previously mentioned [whatever*]: he referred the physical, printed book as an “actual book.” Now, you can interpret that as Mr. King being an elitist douchebag – or you can view it as him referencing the tangible object. It doesn’t have to be a knock on ebooks. You can take it that way, sure. Maybe your opinion is backed up by the fact that he’s “holding off” on releasing an ebook. But you know, that’s his choice. It doesn’t hurt anyone. As I’ve said previously, if I like an author, I’ll read whatever he/she writes, even if it’s scribbled on a roll of paper towels. Do we get outraged if a film company doesn’t release something in 3D? Because if we have the technology, we MUST have access to it at all times. Honestly, there’s nothing I want less than a giant CGI piranha hurling itself at my head while I’m trying to eat popcorn. If the movie’s good, I’ll enjoy it in whatever what it’s presented. Although, I’d love anything shown at a drive-in, because who doesn’t like a nice drive-in? *ahem* Where was I?

I want to hear your reasons, calmly and clearly. I don’t want to feel accosted by your beliefs. I don’t want to feel like you’re shouting AT me. I want to understand. I want to discuss why and how and what. I want to learn. Stop shouting, and start speaking. I promise, I’ll listen.

Once Upon a Time: A Storyteller’s Thoughts about Self-Discovery

March 12, 2012 11 comments

Figuring out who you are is a tricky thing. It can, and often does, take a lifetime to parse out. Even then, I think we only graze the surface. Discovery is a process, not a single instant or a certain place. Revelations arise and fall away at unknown whims. I think that the moment we stop being surprised by who we are, who we could be, is the moment we stop growing as people. That is a dangerous state of being.

Some people never grow up. Some people get stuck in a mindset or attitude. You know the type. There’s always that one guy who you went to high school with, who keeps talking about The Big Game. But what happens if a person who was frozen in time, so to speak, suddenly wakes up? How would that person go about constructing or extracting an identity or sense of self? It is reasonable to assume that there would be a certain level of uncertainty, the kind that surfaces when we, as people, are nervous or unsure. Emerson once wrote that “[t]o be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Notice that he did not claim it would be easy.

Mirrors lie. Words lie. Worse yet: memories lie. (One of my favorite quotes about the nature of memory, “Memory is a mirror that scandalously lies” — Julio Cortázar)

But do actions?

Take the character of Little Red Riding Hood/Ruby (played by the lovely Meghan Ory) from ABC’s Once Upon a Time, specifically this week’s episode Red-Handed. (In case you need a refresher, here’s how the show works: The Evil Queen put a curse on everyone in Fairytale Land, transporting them to the Storybrooke in the Real World. No one can leave.) In Storybrooke, Ruby is a rebel with a confidence problem. She’s got red streaked hair, a wild side, and a desire to see the world – all while wearing a skirt shorter than a napkin (major props to Meghan for being able to rock that look with aplomb). She longs to experience life. Basically, she’s every teenager, magnified. Curiously, it is her conversation with August (the mysterious motorcycle-riding writer who is the first stranger to visit Storybrooke ever. He’s played by Eion Bailey, who I’ve adored since Center Stage.) that allows her to change. Until the sheriff, Emma Swann (Jennifer Morrison), came to town change was impossible. She set the clock moving, quite literally.

After talking to August, Ruby quits her job at the diner, urged on by the need to DO something. To SEE something. Anything. It doesn’t really matter what. In fact, she hadn’t thought about that part at all. She acted, without thinking, going on instinct alone. (That’s important.)

Her counterpart in Fairytale Land is just as rebellious. Where she differs, at least initially, is her grasp of self. When she found poor, displaced Snow White (who cleverly gives her name as Margaret – no, Mary. It’s important to note the connection between names and identity. The curse took away each character’s true name, thus stripping away parts of who they are. The act of naming is an act of power.), she doesn’t hesitate to take her in. You see, there’s a vicious wolf on the loose, eating people and livestock. She’s pretty badass. She knows how to track. She wears a beautiful red cape, until the very second that her grandmother stops paying attention, and she takes it off. Because she doesn’t want to be told what to do, like Ruby.

But it turns out that Red doesn’t really know who she is. She has plans to run away with Peter, the young blacksmith. When she and Snow discover that the wolf isn’t just a wolf – it’s a person cursed to turn when the moon is full – she runs to Peter, suspecting that it’s him. They devise a plan, so that they can still be together. She’ll tie him up with chains so he doesn’t hurt anyone. “You’d do that for me?” he asked, echoing a question she’d asked him earlier. “I’d do anything for you,” she answers, just as he did. That, right there? That’s love, pure and simple.

The trouble is, Red is the wolf. The cape she’s supposed to wear would keep her from transforming. In a tragic moment, she kills Peter. It is then that she discovers who she is: a killer, a monster, a wolf.

Or is she? Isn’t this transformation just one more curse? And who HASN’T felt like they turn into a raging wolf, sometimes? Granted, in real life, we don’t rip out people’s throats. But still. Red discovers who she is in a moment of blood and pain. It is a kind of birth. If the classic Little Red Riding Hood is a cautionary tale about innocence, lost and found, then Once Upon a Time’s rendering is about self-realization and discovery.

The discovery doesn’t end there. Back in Storybrooke, Ruby takes a job at the Sheriff’s station, helping out Emma. She slowly starts to understand that she’s capable of more than she ever realized. That she is smart and useful. In fact, she helps Emma track down David, who Mary Margaret encountered in the woods acting strangely. He’s wandering the area of the forest where Kathryn went missing. As an interesting carryover from Fairytale Land, Ruby has a heightened sense of hearing and smell, like a wolf. That little gem made me wonder what else people could, potentially, carryover from their previous lives. It’s not just certain facets of personality. It’s powers. Perhaps, then, it’s also magic. (We’ve seen a glimpse of that, I think, with Mr. Gold / Rumplestiltskin – as well as Regina / the Evil Queen.)

David, once found, is completely terrified by the idea that he blacked out and murdered his wife. He’s lost some time. He cannot remember an entire night, which presumably he spent in the woods. Then, Ruby (in her last act for the Sheriff’s office) discovered a box that’s been buried near the troll bridge. The box, exactly like the one that contained the Huntsman’s heart, holds Kathryn’s heart. On the lid are fingerprints. (Side-note: the symbolism of the heart in the box is a powerful one. Like the characters themselves, they’ve been held in a box, captured in time. In a way, Storybrooke is a kind of half-death. Each character is functionally alive, but reined in by the Curse.)

Horrified and grieving, David throws himself at Emma’s feet in a tearful, heartbreaking moment of desperation. But the kicker is that the fingerprints don’t belong to him. They’re Mary Margaret’s. At this point, in a nice showing of dramatic irony, the audience pretty much knows that Regina’s to blame for this, having a penchant for murder, tampering with evidence, and heart-snatching. Perhaps because she doesn’t have one of her own, she keeps thieving others.

Slowly, the characters of Fairytale Land are discovering who they are, and who they might be, in Storybrooke. Pieces of personality are revealed, but which pieces are lies? What truth could a mirror hold or yield, if the mirror itself is distorted? In a perfect world, it would be easy to form an identity, without outside influence or interference, without those bumps in the road, or forks, or the occasional ditch. But part of who we are as people arises when we face those challenges, when we rise to them, when we move beyond what we think we’re capable of. Just like Red. Just like Ruby.

Somewhere, we each have a heart in a box (not, dear gods, in the literal sense. Unless your name is Buffalo Bill – in which case, put the lotion down). A secret. Something stashed away from prying eyes. In a way, everyone is an unknown wolf, a darker side hidden in shadow.

Like Mary Margaret, we can be accused of something we did not do. Fingers pointed. Spray-painted accusations written as bright as shame. Like David, we can blame ourselves for something we are afraid we might’ve done. Who hasn’t taken responsibility for something, unnecessarily? Like Emma, we’re all just looking for the truth (although, that being able to KNOW when someone’s lying? I’d like that superpower). Like Ruby, we want to belong. We want to matter.

Sometimes, we are the monster. Sometimes, we are the wolf. And sometimes, like the case of the heart-in-a-box, things are not what they seem.

Once Upon a Time: A Storyteller’s Thoughts on Prince Charming

February 22, 2012 11 comments

There are two worlds: one of fairytales, with Evil Queens, happy endings, and magic – the other a slightly more real place, where love is messy and people are muddling through. There are times where everyone wishes that life were a fairytale, that evil was easy to spot and defend against. Where love, though occasionally tumultuous, is epic and grand. The stuff of legends. In that world, people are heroes. Good triumphs. Obstacles are overcome. True love’s kiss is a panacea.

But the real world? It’s not that easy. Things are complicated. Nothing is black or white. Grey is worn like battle armor. And love, though beautiful and real, is never easy. In this world, mistakes happen. Words are swallowed. Love isn’t easily captured. Even when it’s true and you fight like hell. Even if you try. Sometimes, in this world, it is not enough. Pain happens. People get hurt. Tequila is consumed. Hearts get broken. Damage is done.

Shakespeare said, the course of true love ne’er did run smooth. To that, I’d add: sometimes, you careen off a waterfall, darlings. Sometimes, you drown in the consequences. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or rare it is. In the real world, we fumble around – because life isn’t easily parsed out. The heart certainly isn’t.

Consider, then, for a moment – a person living in both these worlds. Okay, a character. Yes, I’m referring to Prince Charming/David from ABC’s Once Upon a Time. (Basic premise: The Evil Queen put a curse on everyone in Fairytale Land, transporting them to the Storybrook in the Real World. No one can leave.) This show has quickly become my favorite, because it’s wonderfully written, full of layers, and the acting is so divine. I admire the whole production greatly, because nothing is what it seems – even when you think you understand. (A lesson for life, that.)

Take Prince Charming and Snow White – even in Fairytale Land, they’ve got it rough. They both nearly die. One nearly marries someone else. And in a desperate moment, Snow takes a magic draught that does an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Because of how the show began, we know, of course, that they end up together. But that knowledge doesn’t make watching their trials any easier.

In the Real World, there’s David and Mary Margaret (Charming and Snow). He wakes up from a coma. They fall in the best kind of crazy, stupid love. The kind that makes you forget yourself, and ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ cease being words. They’re just letters without meaning. David and Mary Margaret have the kind of passion that tears people apart. And it does, slowly, bit by bit. They love each other in such a palpable way; it almost doesn’t matter that he’s married to Kathryn who he feels suspiciously little for. It almost doesn’t matter, but it does. Week after week, they dance around, half in pleasure and half in pain. It might just be tv, but the portrayal is dead on. Ask anyone who has ever loved in the wrong direction. Small looks. Waiting in coffee shops. Little moments, gobbled up in order to get through the day. Because what you feel is a consuming, whirling passion born of the very best madness.

Eventually, David says he’s going to leave his wife; Mary Maragert can’t take the lies and sneaking around. She wants to be honest, because in love – that’s what you DO. You want to be able to hold hands in public, not sneak off into dark corners (although, to be fair, dark corners can be fun). While he’s explaining things to his wife, he hesitates in his confession. An expression of conflict and fear blanket his face. In that moment, you can feel him waver, waffling because the conversation is freakin’ HARD. How easy is it to tell someone that you love someone else? It’s not. In the real world that we live in, it takes balls of steel. But I digress. David takes the easy road and doesn’t tell her there’s someone else, despite the fact that he promised. The wife finds out, Mary Margaret finds out he lied – and things go very wrong, very fast. David and Mary Margaret break up, and she’s been labeled the town slut. (Okay, that was a little Pleasantville, but I get it.)

Here’s the thing: people who watch the show were OUTRAGED. They were aghast that Prince Charming would fail to do the right thing, that he’d choke like that. Because he’s Prince Freakin’ Charming. Except…he’s not. Not really. This the Real World Charming, aka David.

And David? He’s human. He’s flawed. He makes mistakes, like we all do. Who hasn’t punked out of a difficult confession, skirting around the bombshell of an admission? Who hasn’t, at some point, taken the easy road? No one can say they’ve NEVER done that, especially in a situation like that. It’s not like missing a phone call or a lunch date. It’s “honey, I’m so totally head over heels for someone else. I can’t see straight.”

The course of true love ne’er did run smooth. In the case of David and Mary Margaret, it is a run full of rapids and rough waters. From a storytelling perspective, it can’t be easy. If they just got together and things were awesome, we (as an audience) would probably get bored. The twists and turns, the ups and downs, the moments of shouting at the television (come on, I’m not the only one who does that) are what makes a great story worth it. It keeps the tale dynamic.

And, in all honesty, I think that David’s fumbling were so very human. Withholding that information from Kathryn wasn’t just a character doing something stupid; that was a real life moment, where things don’t go as planned and a person doesn’t do what he should. It also served to illustrate the difference between Fairytale Land and the Real World. Because while each character has retained basic traits, they’ve also lived two lives. And it’s our experiences who help make us who we are.

Sometimes, we chicken out. Sometimes, we don’t show up or step up. Sometimes, we’re all a little bit like David – even in the name of love, even for the sake of love. What he did (omitting the fact of Mary Margaret) was cowardly. But I also think he had good intentions; he was trying to spare her pain. She was, after all, leaving anyway. She seemed almost relieved to be able to go off on her own adventure. It was almost a kindness.

Yes, the decision blew up in David’s face. It resulted in a loss, one that is probably temporary. Because as an audience, we’re pulling for them to get together. (And if you’re not – what’s wrong with you? You probably have a concussion. Seek medical attention.) If Sam and Diane immediately got together on Cheers, it would’ve gone the way of Moonlighting. Anticipation makes a lot of things better; storytelling is one of them. The hard parts, the tough times, they allow the wonderful moments to dance and shine. If things were perfect, if everything happened as it should, the story would suffer. And this is a story, just like real life is sometimes a little bit like a fairytale. Like all stories, it all depends on how you look at things.

Above all else, one must honor the story.