Small World

Small World
The advantage of living much closer to family is that I could make a semi-spontaneous decision to go see my sister in California. Sam was desperate to finish his novel and Henrietta and I wanted to see her aunt and cousins, so off we went, the two of us making the eight hour drive together. She was remarkably well-behaved during that eight hour (okay, nine hour) drive, and once we were there we  went to the beach and ate fish tacos and went to a glorious California farmer's market and cooked good meals and stayed up late talking to my sister. And we went to Disneyland.

I'm a bit of a Disneyland skeptic, as it turns out. I loved Disney when I was a kid, but I confess I don't much understand people who still love it as adults. So I was going mostly on my sister's word that we'd have a good time.

Henrietta and I had terrible trouble actually getting to the park (long story), and it took a complicated hour getting from the parking structure to the gates, so by the time I got there I was exhausted and hungry and I sort of hated everything, including Disney. I ate a sandwich as we rushed to a big theater showing a live performance of Aladdin, and it was during that show that I started to change my mind. Henrietta loved it, for one. She loved it immediately and completely, bouncing up and down on my lap and making her happy sounds. And I was transported back to when I was a kid, playing the cassette tape soundtrack to Aladdin, rewinding and fast-forwarding so I could copy down every word of my favorite songs, going to the other room to ask my mom, again, what "nom de plume" meant. It was such a complete and perfect time machine, that music. And I was suddenly looking forward to Henrietta loving those movies all over again.

In Toon Town

But she was tired, very tired after the show. It was time for her nap, and that place was much too exciting for her to consent to one. I tried tricks that worked beautifully just weeks ago, and still she screamed and screamed, and I didn't know what else to do but force the issue until she screamed herself to sleep. It got cold as she slept in her stroller, and I was completely unprepared for it. My sister and her family were all off at rides, and my cell phone had died, and despite our pleasant experience at the Aladdin show, I thought I had probably made a mistake in coming at all. Henrietta woke up after not too long, and with her teeth chattering I tore the cardboard back off a dark chocolate bar package and dug around in my purse for a pen and wrote a note to my sister, saying we were just going home and I was sorry we were lame. She came back just as I was poised to leave it and gather our things, and she talked me out of leaving and sent me off with my nephews to Tower of Terror.

Where I waited, trying to catch my breath after the horror show of nap-avoidance.
And there, on that ride, as I screamed and laughed, I realized what else I loved. Briefly, everything about that ride was real. It was a big pretend machine, and we were all pretending, and I wasn't Henrietta's tired mom, I was exactly what they said I was, a frightened guest at an old haunted hotel. It was a marvelous feeling, to be removed so forcefully from my real life, and I loved it even more on a ride that took me Soarin' Over California, meaning I was in front of a big IMAX screen showing scenes of the state I love, and my feet were dangling and they were blowing back my hair with pretend wind and I breathed in fake orange and pine and ocean smells, and it worked so completely on me that I was weeping, tears down my cheeks and landing on my shirt, it was so beautiful and the pretending was so perfect.

I'm unlikely to ever be a grown woman wearing mouse ears (and I saw an embarrassing number of them), but it's an incredible thing, to hold a tiny someone on your lap who is experiencing that same complete transportation. My sister and I came back another day, just us with Henrietta and her four-year-old cousin, and we went on It's a Small World and Winnie the Pooh and we walked through the castle and visited the Enchanted Tikki Room and we met the Pirates of the Caribbean and toured The Haunted Mansion, and Henrietta loved them all, her eyes wide and her happy sounds abundant and her little bouncing body on my knees.


Kathy w. said…
Nom de plume! I asked that same question.

Glad you both had fun.
belann said…
So glad you had this experience . Glad Meesha convinced you to stay. We're you able to get HP warm?
Amara said…
Yes! Exactly! Disney is like being in a different universe. I love that. The first time I went with Jeff and the kids it was truly magical. They aren't exaggerating. However: we went back two years later and it was too soon for me to lose myself again -or maybe Kai being sick killed the whole thing for me. I still teared up on Soaring.
Oh dear. I know the terrors of nap-avoidance & it's the worst (aside from maybe a child who won't go to sleep at night or keeps waking up in the middle of the night). Glad your sister convinced you to end up staying longer. I love Disneyland & have fond, fond memories of going there several times as a kid with my family. I hope to be able to take my kids, someday...
Bryson and Tara said…
I am a bit of a Disneyland freak, myself. I loved going before I had kids... but I've since been twice with my kids and it has been completely magical. It's my favorite place...and I seriously got a little teary eyed reading your post. Ha!

Such a fun trip!
Genevieve Beck said…
Yup, I'm a Disney girl. Most of my secular dreams for my children and our family involve Disneyland and Disneyworld. Michael and I love it without kids, but it is so magical to go with them. I'm so glad you had fun!

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