Happy Endings Are the Bestest — Erica L. Williams

Usually, my Valentines’ posts start with something like, “I said I wasn’t going to do it. Not this year. I wasn’t going to write about being single on Valentine’s Day. Then I would lament how after recovering from Thanksgiving and Christmas social shenanigans sans a partner, little time is given after the new year to exhale before the holiday cards are steamrolled off the shelves replaced by Valentine Cards and stuffed animals, some the size of people.

Then I would pretend to enjoy looking at all the couples on social media and Facebook’s #ValentinesDayCouplesChallenge as I eat a row of Oreos in one sitting.

But not this year. You probably think it’s because I’ve found the ONE. That I no longer have to post the Single, Taken, Writing a Book- √ logo on my social media page anymore.

I’m still single, but on this Valentine’s Day, in the words of Future…. life is good.

Now, on Valentine’s Day, I have been known to be cheesing like a kid on Christmas one minute. Then an unsuspecting DJ plays a song reminding me of a past love, or I discover that HBO is playing The Notebook on repeat. Suddenly, I’m in a fetal position lying in the middle of my living room floor crying hysterically, and yelling to the top of my voice, why God why when God when.

But not today. I’m not going to meltdown or go on Bumble and swipe right on everyone, including the man who resembles all of Katt Williams’ mug shots.

Today, I’m cooking myself a special valentine’s meal and watching movies. Much conversation has been sparked about the Netflix movie Malcolm & Marie starring Zendaya and John David Washington. The story of a filmmaker whose relationship is in crisis on the night of his latest film’s premiere. It’s been the subject of lively discussion in Clubhouse rooms and social media. Reviews ranging from it’s the best thing since king cake at Mardi Gras to they’re arguing for argument sakes, or what’s up with that mac and cheese has run the gamut.

My all-time favorite movie to watch on Valentine’s Day is The Break-Up. The 2006 film starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, tells the story of the couple’s nasty breakup, and how both refused to move out of their shared condo, morphing into antagonistic roommates. Various media outlets had reported that before the movie’s release, test audiences hated the original ending because the couple didn’t have a happy ending and reconciled. During that time, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt had recently divorced, and rumors were that the test audience wanted Aniston to have her happy ending, even if it was only on screen.

Reportedly, Universal Pictures tweaked the movie’s ending, and although the quarreling couple didn’t reconcile, the new finale offered a glimpse of a possible future.

Every time I watch the Breakup I long for the couple’s reconciliation. Then I can’t help but reflect on some of my past romantic endings. Not all my exes triggered Jesus take the wheel moments, but there were a few where I find myself randomly humming a line from Garth Brooks’ song ‘Unanswered Prayers.’ “ That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

Like the Break-Up, I often think it would be nice to have an audience who screens your life advocating and demanding happy endings for us all. But unlike the formulaic endings in the movies, I’ve come to realize that real life with its ups and downs, heartbreaks, and heart healings are better left unedited. And your life will turn out glorious, wonderful, happy, afterall.

Originally published at https://ericalwilliams.com on February 14, 2021.

MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Work has appeared in Necessary Fiction, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Blood Orange Review, & elsewhere.

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