You are five years old and you have this collection of Disney movies on VHS (this is pre-DVD, DVR, on-demand, HBO life; yes, it existed) that you consider to be synonymous with gold, a profitable currency that allows you to trade with other Disney fiends and experience those last few films you have yet to acquire.
You tend to dance around the living room during the musical numbers, often misconstruing the lyrics for more “kid-friendly” words (i.e., “savages” become “sandwiches”). But as the end comes closer, with you sitting crisscross applesauce smack in front of the television, you have no problem with the fact that the girl always finds a way to her prince charming, that the girl goes through all these ups and downs and its all worth it in the end if it means a crown and boy. You take it all in like candy.
Now, at 23, your life so far from the charming versions of Disney, you still scramble for the TV remote when you see Beauty and the Beast is on at 7, so you can record it and watch it twice. But this time, decades since your five-year-old viewing of the film, all you see is the verbal abuse the poor girl so cleverly named “Belle” receives from that hairy brute. Until, of course, he magically turns back into a prince and his attitude makes a 180. If only every woman had a Gaston to sic on their guy, maybe it’d be possible to actually change him after all.
Beyond the monopoly of princes and princesses, sometimes I still feel like that five-year-old girl, watching real life folks make their own fairy tales. And I think to myself, “how lucky for them…” to be living in New York City, to be working their dream jobs, to have the courage to take a risk and be self-employed. How lucky? No, lady. Luck has got close to nothing to do with it.
It’s hard work. A good combination of blood, sweat and tears. They didn’t sail off into their futures with a genie lamp—they found some innate courage and worked towards it, pulled out some strength and kept going. They heard the words “give up” echo in their minds and had to pull out a dictionary because they don’t. know. what. that. means. Their only option was onward.
And I just wish I had seen a movie like that as a kid.