And in the end in Wonderland we both went mad…

And in the end in Wonderland we both went mad…

I’ve been struggling with this whole identity thing lately. Like I had my Florida identity and for some reason that doesn’t seem to be working in Ithaca so I’m trying to find an Ithaca identity and I’m just having a hard time with it.

Let me back track a little bit.

So growing up in Michigan I never really felt like I fit. My brother and sister are so much alike, I always wanted to be just like them so I fit in. I was so awkward, my interests were always younger than my age and kids my age thought I was weird. I remember being in like 5th or 6th grade and I’d ordered a Pokémon drawing book or something from the Scholastic book order and when the teacher called my name to come get it from her desk all the kids in class laughed because it was a Pokémon thing and we were too old for that now. I was so scared of everyone and what they thought of me, I mumbled something about it being for my sister and started dedicating my life to being invisible. I would do whatever I could and like whatever people told me to like so I wouldn’t get made fun of. At least I tried this at school. At home I surrounded myself with video games and my walls were covered in magazine posters of boy bands and song lyrics. 

At home I could read my books and watch romantic comedies and talk on the phone with my best friend for hours about how awesome it would be if *NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys just showed up at our houses and asked us to go in tour with them. 

I always dreamed of escaping and moving somewhere where I would find more people like me, people who watched High School Musical who weren’t under the age of 10. Who when I said I loved High School Musical wouldn’t be like, “Uh aren’t you a little old for that?” Because no, you’re never too old to watch Zac Efron sing and dance, thank you very much.

I always felt ashamed of the things I loved, felt like I should be acting my age when I didn’t even know what that meant. Hell, I still don’t know what the fuck that means. 

When I was applying for colleges and wanted to run away, I was told I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know what that meant either, so I stayed put while everyone I knew grew up and moved away. 

Then I decided to do the College Program and only then did I finally find my people. We were all a little weird, all a little awkward, we were from everywhere trying to figure shit out, but we all had one thing in common, we were all working an insane amount of hours in ugly outfits in 100 degree weather with 100% humidity for a cartoon mouse. And after a few rocky months I fell in love.

My confidence grew because I was around people who didn’t tell me I was too old to love Disney. I watched that damn High School Musical show at MGM Studios aka Hollywood Studios SO MANY TIMES. I saw Monique Coleman backstage once and almost DIED. I had a High School Musical purse, I had disney stuffed animals and Disney clothes and I saw FIREWORKS every night and I got to sell glow necklaces and light up Mickey ears and I had a family of Snow Birds in the winter and on Mondays and Tuesdays I worked with the moms who made me feel at home. 

I remember when my brother came to visit me, it was in like October I think, I’d been in Florida for a few months. I took him and Nicole and Tiara to Fantasmic! And I was so excited for him to see where I worked and what I did. After the show was over we sat there for a few minutes and watched the people leave, and he was like, “That was really cool.” And it was like my life had meaning, because my brother is so cool and for him to think what I was doing was cool was a big deal. 

But over time as Marc and I got older, we started to feel like Florida wasn’t where we should be anymore. I was still me and I still loved my theme parks and my life, but we were growing tired of the heat and our apartments falling apart and we missed being close to family. 

And now we’re here, where sometimes I feel like I’m back in high school when my previously confident self casually says something about something I love and I know people think I’m a little weird. I’m struggling to figure out where I fit, where my place is, where I belong. I miss people knowing what I’m talking about when I make references to things.

Sometimes I feel like I’m in that episode of Buffy where the demon takes away all the sound and I talk but no one can hear me and everyone is just moving along and I can’t get anyone to listen.

I’ve been trying so hard not to lose who I am here, and trust me some days it’s tough. Like sometimes I wish I could just be in Diagon Alley in my Hogwarts dress, drinking a frozen butterbeer waving a wand at an umbrella to make it rain. Or eating an eclair in Epcot while leaning against the railing in Italy next to the fountain, waiting for Illuminations to start. Or walking to City Walk to see a movie, followed by a frozen yogurt and in depth movie analysis discussion at Menchie’s.

If you can’t tell, most of my memories revolve around food. 

But I have to remember that Wonderland is not real life, and eventually we have to climb out of the rabbit hole and keep moving forward. 

Trying To Find These Perfect Places

Trying To Find These Perfect Places

Just last week Marc and I went to Michigan and on the way home to see the family we stopped to spend a few days in Mackinaw City/Mackinaw Island (Mackinac Island? No one can make up their damn minds so I don’t know which one is right.) It was the first time we’d had a vacation on our own just the two of us since our honeymoon, and I was having a bit of a breakdown at that point in my life and my anxiety was a mess and I was NOT a pleasant person to be around. For our honeymoon we went to Vermont in the month of March I think because I wanted to see snow and we spent a full day at Ben & Jerry’s. That was fourish years ago though and we needed a vaca.

I wanted to go to Mackinaw because my mom and dad took my sister and I there when we were younger and I loved it. We stayed at a hotel right on the beach and in the mornings my dad and I stood on the balcony and watched all the geese roaming around. I remember taking my Nicholas Sparks book down to the beach and sitting on a bench pretending to be cool and chill, waiting for cute boys to notice me. Or like Nsync to show up or something. I always used to think Nsync would show up somewhere and we’d be friends. All that fanfiction I read messed with my brain. Why the hell would Nsync just like as a group be walking down the beach in Mackinaw City, Michigan? Its nonsense but it’s what I spent most of my time thinking about back then. It was a simpler time.

Anyway, we hadn’t been to Mackinaw in a long time because I used to get car sick during the drive when I was really little (see the previous post about car sickness anxiety problems :).) My mom got tired of having to stop at fast food restaurant bathrooms and throw people out of the way so I could puke in a nasty public restroom toilet, so we stopped going.

It’s funny because when Marc and I drove there ourselves this time, and I looked to see how close Mackinaw was to my families’ house, it’s like literally 3 hours. Compared to the 20 hour Florida/New York drive, three hours is chump change. It’s NOTHING. How did I not survive that before, and why did it seem like WAY longer? I have no idea.

We finally ended up going back to Mackinaw when I was in like 8th grade or something I think, I don’t think I was in high school yet. I remembered it being so beautiful and it had all this history, the island didn’t allow cars so you got to walk and ride a horse drawn carriage and there was SO. MUCH. FUDGE. So when Marc and I were looking into vacation possibilities, Mackinaw seemed like the best idea. Like good little adults we researched our hotel and booked it and then Marc refused to let me plan ANYTHING because he said we’d just “wing it”. He may have thought we “winged it” but I’d downloaded the Trip Advisor app and Yelp and everything we did was strategically researched.

So the fun thing about Mackinaw is you get to ride a ferry boat to the island. They take you under the Mackinaw Bridge and tell you fun facts about how the Mackinaw Bridge USED to be the longest bridge ever but now it’s like the 16th longest. Poor Mackinaw. It’s okay though, it’s still a pretty bridge though. Then they make a fun quip about how you’ve been in two great lakes at once and then they finally take you to the island. It was bummer ‘cause I wanted to sit on the top of the boat for the ride, but 1. it was a little cold and 2. FISH FLIES EVERYWHERE OH MY GOD LIKE WTF. They were EVERYWHERE. They have NO purpose except to fly around an just sort of run in to you. It was insane. It reminded me of this Michael Crichton book ‘Prey’. I was waiting for the swarms to just eat me alive. Like we passed a house that I think was supposed to be white, and with all the fish flies it was more of a dark gray. HORRIFYING.

On the island itself not much had changed since I had last been there, at least not that I can remember. Except everywhere takes credit cards now, and of course there’s a Starbucks. Because even a random island has to have a Starbucks, #smoresfrapploveforever. My whole goal for this trip was to have some good educational fun. We signed up for a Carriage Tour, where some kind tour guides told us the rich history of Mackinaw while horses poopooed mere feet away from our faces.

You know what the biggest bummer was? I had built this whole thing up for Marc. I was like, “This place is amazing, there’s so much history here, you’re going to learn about how amazing it is.” Well, you know what the story is friends? So there was a fort on the island, Fort Mackinaw, and one day the British came to the island and snuck up behind the fort. The guy who ran the fort was like, “Well that sucks, we are short some people. Guess we better surrender.” The end.

No, I am not lying, that’s it.

And as we went through Fort Mackinaw, meandering in and out of the buildings reading all the informational posters while school kids ran around frantically trying to fill out scavenger hunt fact sheets for their classes, we stopped to read a sign that said something along the lines of, look, war is a tough time, the guy was stressed, you gotta make some big decisions when an army sneaks up on you in the middle of the night, what would YOU have done, huh?

Apparently the guy who surrendered was not a popular man.

Other history of the island was that a giant turtle came up out of the lake one day and life started to grow on it’s back. Therefore, all the gift shops on the island MUST sell turtle figurines. I wanted to know where the fudge, popcorn, and taffy craze originated from. Not that I’m complaining. I had Mackinaw Island fudge ice cream for 3 days in a row. The last time I’d had it was when I went to visit my family and the ice cream shop we went to hadn’t put out that flavor yet, and my dad explained to the employees that I’d come all the way from Florida just for this ice cream (he speaks the truth) and then they went to the back and pulled out the gallon just for me. My mom says I’m spoiled. I don’t see it.

Going on vacation as an adult as opposed to being a kid is fun though, because you plan your own stuff and you do your own thing and you kind of just do whatever. Like spend the morning walking around the island until your legs feel like they’re going to fall off. 8.2 miles kids. And there were so many fish flies the buzzing echoed off the trees like something out of a horror film.

You know one thing that was also nice about Mackinaw, something that is also a little more common here in Ithaca than it ever was in Florida? Everyone we saw on our walk to the ferry in the morning said good morning to us. The people there are SO DAMN FRIENDLY. Marc was like, “Why do they feel obligated to say hello?” Omg because they’re nice and no one is nice anymore so it’s weird when it happens!

Overall it was a fun adventure. Would you like to know some other fun facts? There is only one doctor on the island, and 2 vets (because horses are VERY important). There is a restaurant called ‘Seabiscuit’, because there’s that movie about the horse, and the island has horses, do you see what they did there?

Alright one more one more, so there are 15 fudge shops on the island and if you sample fudge at all of them you’ll have eaten 1 pound of fudge and you’ll be praying that one doctor is available. Side note, the carriage rides were like the Jungle Cruise at Disney, SO MANY PUNS I LOVED IT. I laughed at every single joke.

Go somewhere beautiful. Don’t make a schedule (or like a strict one because I have a problem and need SOMETHING). EAT ALL THE FOOD.