Orlando, Part III: Magic Kingdom

When most people think of Disney, the first thing that comes to mind is the Magic Kingdom, the nighttime parade down Main Street USA, pictures in front of Cinderella’s Castle, and everything that comes along with that. So it was fitting that the next morning we were up early and on our way to the Magic Kingdom first. Swirling through my head were all the memories (both real and embellished in the intervening years) of my own trips there, the most recent being 25 years prior to our adventure.

As we drove through the expansive gates of the Disney complex it was like entering a whole new world (pardon the double entendre). I had Heidi take a few pictures as I drove a little slower to capture it all. The kids in the back with my mother were oohing and aahing over the huge likenesses of Mickey, and Goofy, and Donald painted onto the gates. I knew it was going to be an amazing day, although it had been hot as blazes when we’d left our resort, and I knew it would just get hotter as the day went on.

But we had a plan. If there’s anything you should know about Heidi, it’s that she’s the queen of planning things out. Our honeymoon was coordinated to perfection, and other trips we’ve taken have received the same treatment. Following the signs, we ended up in the parking lot marked for Simba (Alexa was upset we weren’t in the villains parking), but we were early enough that it wasn’t far from where we needed to catch the monorail. Continue reading “Orlando, Part III: Magic Kingdom”

Orlando, Part II: Settling In

It was hot. No. Seriously. Now, we knew going down to Florida in the dead of August was going to be a bit of a warm affair, but no matter how much we prepared ourselves, nothing quite compared to the real thing.

We touched down in Orlando late on Saturday night. Stepping out of that airport into the night air should have been refreshing, but the air was like a heavy thing, pressing down on us from the start. It was simply a preview of the coming week, though we were too tired at that moment to truly appreciate it.

But none of that really mattered, once we drove past the sign for the Magic Kingdom, and the other Disney theme parks. Maybe Alexa doesn’t believe in magic, but seeing that, just being there, it made all of us take in a breath. I tried not to think about how fast it would all go, because things always seem to move quickly when you’re trying to stop the world and move as slowly as possible, when you’re trying to let it all sink in.

Our resort was amazing, walking distance from Old Town, a fifteen minute drive to the Magic Kingdom. I still can’t believe we were so close to a sort of magic I hadn’t truly experienced since I was a kid and my parents sacrificed for my sister and me to be a part of that magic. Of course, though, as we pulled onto DeLorean Drive, that was the last thing on my mind. Continue reading “Orlando, Part II: Settling In”

Orlando, Part I: The Plan

“Do you believe in magic?”

I asked Alexa this about six months ago, while she sat at the dining room table, after ostensibly doing all of her homework. She looked up at me with this inscrutable expression on her face, the one that reminds me so much of her mother. After a few beats, however, a smile danced across her lips, and a laugh came out.

“I believe that we do what makes us happy, and if that’s magic, then that’s magic.”

Out of the mouth of children. Though, if I’m honest, she’s an “old thirteen,” a girl who understands the world even when she doesn’t. She was right, of course, that magic is what we make of it. For many that magic takes the form of the unexplained. For others it means fortuitous circumstances that drop down like rain. For yet others, magic is a living, breathing thing, coiled and ready to spring at any moment.

It’s in the eye of the beholder, like a beautiful puzzle that sometimes shimmers when it’s all put together.

“There’s a kind of magic that lives in all of us, a sense of adventure that doesn’t go away just because life gets harder.”

“Yeah, Dad, that’s too much to think about.”

And that was that, as it usually is. So, why did I bring up magic in the first place? Well, for an eternity Heidi and I decided this would be the year we went to Disney. We wanted to make sure both girls were old enough that they would remember it. We wanted to make sure the magic was as real as it could be for them. Perhaps we waited a fraction too long for Alexa, the girl who tried to trip Santa Claus last year, but perhaps not. Continue reading “Orlando, Part I: The Plan”

The Ineffable Quality of Love

ineffable: too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. 

The other day I ran into someone who uses the L word a lot. In the course of regular conversation, she expressed it no fewer than 10 times, to encompass everything, from the latte she was drinking, to her new bag, to the latest episode of some vapid TV show she watches but I’m glad to say I’ve never seen.

I nodded along, but inside I was counting, and thinking to myself, “You can’t possibly love all of these things.” I realized one of two things in that moment. Either she honestly believes she loves all of these things, or she hasn’t really taken the time to analyze her feelings for each one, and love is simply a placeholder until she decides she wants to dig a little deeper. If she ever decides she wants to dig a little deeper.

Too often people don’t. Too often they grab a word, put it in their pocket, and pull it out whenever the mood strikes, whenever they can’t think of anything that fits the situation they’re in. That’s why we often say we love others too soon, when all we can possibly feel is attraction, or companionship, or relief, or any number of a million other feelings that often masquerade as love.

We see others living the lives we want, having the love we wish we had…

Continue reading “The Ineffable Quality of Love”

The Dozens

The man at the door was new, a beefier version of the last guy, and the guy before him, but in every essential way he was the same: same broad shoulders, same blank look on his face, same everything. Which was both comforting and unsettling at the same time. Claire could imagine him doing unspeakable things in the dark, when he wasn’t at the nightclub door.

“ID?” he asked.

She was wearing her short black skirt, with the wraparound waist that showed pretty much all of her legs, a new, thin red blouse, and matching lipstick. When she looked in the mirror, Claire often saw a mature woman looking back at her, even though she was only sixteen. It wasn’t her first time being asked for ID, but it was the first in a while, and she frowned before fishing in her purse.

“Here,” she said, slipping the man at the door her fake Delaware ID. That was the trick, of course, a close enough state but probably not one he’d seen often, if at all. She smiled up at him expectantly, like she had done this a dozen times before. She had done this a dozen times before.

“Go on through,” he told her, handing back her ID with a smirk on his face that said he knew more than he was letting on.

She didn’t care. She was in. Claire hitched up her skirt, as a sort of thank you, and eased inside like she’d done it a dozen times before. It was easier to blend in, to be one of the sweaty masses, than it was pretending day after day in school, and with her mom, and everywhere in between.

“Want to dance?” a guy asked her seconds after she entered. Continue reading “The Dozens”

Clip-Ons and Half-Smiles

My mom never took pictures of me on the first day of school. I think it’s because she realized I looked no different then than any other time in my life. Okay, maybe I had a cleaner, ironed shirt on, but we all knew it would be rumpled fifteen minutes into the school year. So, why front?

It’s like when we had school picture day. Sure, I wore a tie most of the time, and a sweater to cover up the fact of no tie at other times, but generally I had on a collared shirt. That was fancy back then (at least when I wasn’t in church). I only knew it was school picture day because the clip-on would be lying on my bed when I got out of the shower.

It was like Santa had placed it there.

Sometimes I wish they had clip-on ties for adults. Don’t tell me they have them. You will ruin my dream. It’s the dream that sustains me, after all, the illusion that they don’t exist. If you tell me they do, then I’ll have to subscribe to a new illusion. Like when I found out about the Tooth Fairy.

So, I would clip on that tie, adjust it to hide the fact it was a clip-on, and I’d smile for the man, or the woman, who stood behind the camera with a chipmunk grin. Continue reading “Clip-Ons and Half-Smiles”

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