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 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”

Irish Pride

irish-flagThe first time I saw Ireland was through the tiny window of a giant airplane as we descended upon Dublin on a May day in 2003. It was our honeymoon, and we were aglow in the newness of the condition, then bombarded with the shock of the culture change that was about to hit us upon landing. I gripped my new bride’s hand in equal parts fear and anticipation, fear of the unknown and anticipation of the journey regardless. After all, it was Ireland.

I’ve always identified with all things Irish, since I was a wee lad. Honestly, my mother got awfully tired of me speaking in a poor excuse for an Irish accent (I’ve since gotten better at it) and wanting everything to be painted green. In fact, I had picked out the brightest green I could find and gotten my dad to paint my room that color. I was that committed to it, and I couldn’t have told you why it was Ireland and not somewhere else.

So, it was no wonder when I heard U2 for the first time on the radio and fell in love. Like with anything else I get interested in, I went overboard from the start. I quickly began doing research on the band, which was harder to do back then because the internet wasn’t as prevalent, so I went to the library. It was complicated work, but I was assured at the end of the inquiry that I knew all there was to know about the band, and by extension, about Ireland itself.

And I knew I had to get there someday. Somehow.

When I met my future wife, it was one of the first things we talked about, my obsession with all things Irish. I even joked about having been Irish in a previous life, and about the significance of my Irish last name. I knew she was humoring me, and I was grateful for it. At least she didn’t tell me to shut up. I also knew she was just as obsessed with all things British, so we would go back and forth on which culture was better. I still say it’s Irish, and perhaps our trip helped her to see things my way.

We touched down on Dublin soil after a seemingly endless plane ride, but I was finally there. In Ireland. I breathed in the air as we stepped off the plane, even though it was just recirculated airport air. It somehow felt different as I inhaled it, as if I were taking in the very essence of the Irish way of life. I would have knelt and kissed the floor had my wife not been with me. I didn’t want to embarrass her. That would come later. Continue reading “Irish Pride”