Bunny Bride - Early Meditations on Love
Drawings from a small book I made at 8 years old.
My mom was good about saving drawings that I used to make when little. Sorting through the garage one day, she unearthed this treasure. I happened to be home visiting, and happily took the cardboard box inside.
I sift through layers of yellowing, slightly crisp momentoes. It takes me back to my room that I shared with my sister and the sacred secret spots I found within to hide things: my journal, my found treasure in an old, girls jewelry box – white and decorated with delicate pink and pale green creeping flowers. There's the penny and the nickel that my sister and I laid on the railroad tracks minutes before the train came, and then hid behind bushes watching until it passed, covering our ears when the whistle blew, scrambling up the rock pilings to the tracks to recover our flattened coins. Wow! So cool. Look at this!
In between old photos - some square with white borders, I find my book. My late 40-something self smiles. Oh my God, I forgot about this. There is my 8-year old self sitting on a bench next to a boy. We are quite taken with each other. I have no idea who he is. I don't think he was anyone I knew. Not John or Jeff or Patrick, or Mark, the kid who used to chase me on my bike after school. So terrifying. (Later I found out he liked me.) No, this boy was my young soul mate. The glorious other. The heart-pulling, uplifting end-all.
On page four, I have somehow transformed into a bunny who is standing upright in a wedding gown. White, of course. Red carpet. Bunny ears. Why am I a bunny? Wearing red lipstick. Eyes wide. Dazed. Kind of googly. Scared? Disconcerted? But what's written overhead is: J – O – Y. This is joy. I don’t see a man. He’s at the end of the aisle. Waiting.
I finger the coins smashed by the train. So smooth. I lay them carefully in their resting spot in the corner of the old jewelry box. There's my POW bracelet with a Vietnam War vet’s name on it. I’d clipped out the newspaper mention of him when he’d returned home. Had he ever known I’d worn his name on the flat silver bracelet for years? Swam with it in swim practice? Had it helped bring him home?
The bunny bride drawing I find both startling and soothing. Startling because of its stark proof that I was, at a very young age, THAT enamoured with the idea of getting married.....of happily ever after.
Studies confirm what I already know about the way girls are socialized, the way female language includes apologies and phrases to water down our presence. I was just going to, I was feeling a little like, I hope he likes me, I hope I find someone, I wonder when, I wonder if, will he like this? Me? I remember the stories of Cinderella and Snow White, and the dark, handsome princes who would sweep you off your feet if you were just pretty enough, charming, likable, malleable enough. And how my own mother’s story was a little like that, she being a high school head cheerleader and my dad being the captain of the football team. They met at college and got pinned – engaged to be engaged – and then married. She sewed her own wedding dress of silk and pearls, and he looked so handsome, 6 foot 4, in his white Marine Corps lieutenants uniform and crisp hat. Even a sword.
Who would my prince charming be?
It explains so much. The innocence and hope and too eager desire to be part of something else and someone else before knowing who I was. It makes it easier to understand why I married at 22, and all that unfolded afterwards.