i’m not ready for that final disappointment.
i was in disney world for most of last week. a lot of people laughed at me and thought this was a ridiculous incongruous venture but. you know. a lot of people don’t know me very well. they imagine me as some coal-hearted combination of moe the bartender and margot tenenbaum and ebenezer scrooge (it becomes apparent!)…well, they have never been to my apartment: crammed full of 80s stuffed animals and super kawaii objects; home to the pleasantest lovingest cats you’re likely to meet; the place where i put on my handsome linen apron and make [vegetable] stock out of the week’s scraps whilst listening to obscure folk records. all comfort and cuddles and frugality. at least on its better days.
in any case. as you probably know by now, my imaginary, i’m no coal-hearted specter, i’m actually a straight-up sentimental fool. i’m a lover, i’m a giver. commercials can make me cry. nostalgia works on my system like a drug. (a goooood drug!) and my father grew up in florida—st. augustine—when i was growing up, we generally went to visit his mother once or twice a year and then we would go to disney world afterwards. until i was about 11 or 12. so i went quite a lot as a kid and i have hardcore nostalgia about it. in fact riding on ‘the haunted mansion’ is one of my very first memories…and (as i realized on my recent trip) i can pretty much recite the whole opening stretching-room monologue. (your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding, etc.) (almost as if you sensed a disquieting metamorphosis!)
yes, okay, admittedly, the haunted mansion was my favorite ride by far—and you can argue that is evidence of a darker sort of personality—but i was obsessed with all the old epcot rides too, figment especially. (the old figment song can easily make me cry. he’s like…the hidden good in all of us….snifffff). also obsessed with hugging every single tiki at the polynesian resort and telling it i loved it. vivid memories of my parents having to yell at me to stop hugging tikis so we could get wherever we were going. (dammit, dora!) honestly i think the haunted mansion probably captured my imagination the most because of the vocabulary. i mean i don’t think i was especially macabre.*
so my BFF invited me to go along on his annual family trip to disney world this year and i was thrilled. i thought it would be a blast.
it was harrowing.
i amused myself and kept up my sanity by taking a lot of miserable selfies.
(apparently!) shattering no stereotypes of myself.
it was mostly not disney world’s fault, it was mostly his family’s constant fighting, but disney world certainly didn’t take the edge off. disney world is relentless. (you can’t just go off and do your own thing in disney world. i mean, what are you going to do? ride the teacups by yourself? i did eventually find myself sitting alone on a bench in hollywood studios, drinking a fine grapefruit hefeweizen, doing crossword puzzles on my phone, painfully conscious it was all costing me a damn fortune.) but even if i’d been with pleasant people, it would still have been hard on the nerves. i mean, yeah. the magic kingdom is not exactly a deserted beach on the isle of lewis in november. it was an exceptionally crowded week. and disney was still playing christmas music. and just a few days before i left for florida, i found my first gray hairs. and i so desperately want to have my own family and children. and in epcot morocco my friend’s aunt started up a conversation with me (all innocently) about why didn’t i have my own family and children, an attractive bright young woman like me, had i thought i didn’t want them, had i wanted a career? etc. she asked all the worst possible questions and i started crying behind my grotesquely large warby-parker sunglasses. (sunglasses so large you can have a good cry behind them, completely unnoticed!)
there’s a sentence i really love to quote: ‘how small everything has grown and how terrible is the deterioration within myself.’ it’s from orwell’s essay ‘such such were the joys.’ for some reason, i was assigned to read this essay when i was a child, about eight, so i have a weirdly accurate memory of it.** and that is largely the reason i quote from it so often. and i repeated this sentence to myself (and to my BFF, for his amusement) often at disney world last week. it’s a great sentence and viable incantation but it captures exactly nothing about my trip to disney world. disney world is still fun and impressive and it’s a hell of a lot bigger than it was twenty years ago. and i’m not exactly deteriorated: i’m all fertile a-quiver on the verge of tears. (also, and it’s easy to forget this, that essay is great because it’s all sensual, all realia: orwell talks about visiting the classrooms and showers etc. of his childhood boarding-school and they appear small because they really are small.)
well. i left d-world two days early and i’m glad to be back, i guess—as bleak and uninspiring as my own life often is, it’s still a hell of a lot better than being a child. always good to be reminded of that!
happy new year, blog. happy new year, every one.
* okay! john bellairs was my favorite author, but again i think this had more to do with the vocabulary (and the illustrations) than with the ghosts. they’re not scary books, for the most part.
** and i loved it (and it made me love george orwell forever) because child-orwell tells another boy that the headmaster’s beating “didn’t hurt.” (and the headmaster overhears and he gets beaten again, much harder.) when i was a child, i would always tell my mother that her hitting me “didn’t hurt.” with similar consequences.