Weekend at Disney’s

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You’ve probably anticipated that my first article in college would be that of nostalgia and an emotional description of coming of age. Although I do fall in many cliché categories, I try to avoid them when I can. Besides, I’ve written enough about “lasts” for the past year. It’s time to write about “firsts”.

I walked off the plane into sunny Florida and realized for the first time that this was actually my home. The two-and-a-half-hour plane ride had felt like a vacation or a short journey away from home. It took until I reached the ground to realize that this was my home.

After about a week after move-in day, it even started to feel like home. I fell in love with my school, with the town around it, and most of all with the newfound freedom that I could eat whenever I want, sleep whenever I want, and even better, go out whenever I want (although I’ve proven to not use that last one enough to displease my parents, as a teenager would only hope. Try as I might, I can only “go out” a few nights a week!). I found friends who started to feel like family and I cried less and less every time I hung up the phone when talking to my mom.

My greatest complaint is that there’s no changing of seasons. At least not yet, anyways. I know I shouldn’t complain because it’s expected in Florida, but I’ve missed the crunching of leaves, the transitioning of shorts to pants, and the magic of the first day you prefer hot chocolate to iced tea. I barely even knew that my birthday was coming up, as these moments of fall were all reminders and countdowns every year. But my birthday did come, even without the leaves and the pants and the hot chocolate. It was my first birthday not at home.

When I was younger my mother had planned elaborate parties for my friends, anyway I wanted. Given, the first six birthdays were Little Mermaid themed, but beyond that I remember the living room becoming a magic forests of fairies and eating cake in castles. After I grew out of fairies and princesses (or was supposed to, at least), my mother spent months finding exactly what I want and finding the perfect birthday cake to somehow both be my preferred flavor (chocolate, of course), while also summarizing my obsessions of the year (past cake themes: Barbie Princess, purses, and shoes).

Eighteen wonderful, perfect birthdays spent at dinner with my family, while my parents planned for weeks how to surprise me, and spent the entire day telling me stories of my past.   

Every year, my Dad tells the same story from when we went to Disney World when I was three-years-old. I met Minnie Mouse, and was so star struck that I couldn’t even speak. She gave me a big “kiss”, or at least attempted to through the massive costume that was the Minnie I knew and loved, and I turned back to my parents in extreme pride and glee, exclaiming, “Minnie Mouse kissed me on the wips!” My three-year-old tongue had failed my pronunciation of a basic word, “lips”, and became the reason for many, many jokes for years. Eighteen wonderful, perfect years. And now it was my first birthday without these cakes, these surprises, or these stories.

 My friends asked me, “what should we do for your birthday!?” I wanted to do something extremely fun to get my mind off the fact that it would be a birthday of firsts. Truth be told, in spite of all my newfound freedom, I ached for my family in ways I had never known possible, and knew it would ache even worse when there would be no carefully planned surprises or Minnie Mouse stories on my birthday.

Without even realizing the relationship to stories of my past, I chose to go to Disney World. We were close to the world-renowned theme park and I had been dying to go since we moved in. As a present, my parents bought a hotel room for my friends and I to stay in, and we packed our backpacks and went to Disney World for my birthday weekend.

I didn’t intend for it or expect it at all, but it was the bizarre and exciting clashing of my two worlds. My past that had been revolved around princesses and castles and yes, even Minnie Mouse, and my undetermined future in college, since I was there with all the new friends I met. In between the Peter Pan ride and fireworks above Cinderella’s castle, we gossiped about boys and parties. It was bizarre, but I felt happy.

I had friends that I loved, and I was excited about my life as an independent and grown up human being. I’m ready for this life, ready to go after my goals and fulfill my greatest dreams. After all, I had been raised by the very best. But after nineteen years of growing, I was still the little girl who looked up at the Disney Princesses and really believed they were magic. At the 11pm fireworks over Cinderella’s castle, I shed a tear for the family I knew belonged by my side and the familiar music that reminded me of them, but I felt sincere happiness to be there, with my new friends who felt like family, in this new place that felt like home.

I dusted off the last of the glitter in my hair leftover from the weekend at Disney, and felt a calm sincerity that even as independent and “un-nostalgic” as I try to be, my “firsts” would not be firsts without my lasts, and my lasts will always stay with me. I apologize for breaking my promise and getting nostalgic and emotional, but I could not talk about my happiness without including it. I’m happy, I’m independent, and I’m back from a weekend at Disney World. But no, Minnie Mouse did not kiss me on the wips this time. 

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