Hey kids, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Since June 30th to be exact. I’ve started taking a Financial Accounting class to decide whether I like Business enough to try out a Masters and I’m in a new position at work. I went to a cycling class for the first time, it was so hard and the college kids kicked my ass. It was a struggle. I was also late and had to awkwardly roll a bike in from the hallway because they ran out of them before I got there. How do you not have enough bikes when you only allow a certain number of people to show up? These are the answers we will never know.
Anyway, so here I am. I’ve been thinking about something the last couple weeks. I do most of my thinking on the drive to and from work. It’s 45 minutes to an hour on country roads. No traffic. Lots of cows. Taylor Swift and I have many duets. It gets intense.
I just finished reading this book by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One. It was a quick read filled with wonderful pop culture references and nerdy video game stuff. I feel like if they do it correctly it will transition to the big screen quite well.
So in this book there is this thing called the OASIS. Like a virtual reality world, people basically live in it at this point because it’s the future and the world has gone to shit and regardless of your gender, race, social status, etc., you could be whoever you wanted in the OASIS.
A little backtracking. Sometimes after I’ve had a hard day or when I feel alone, I sit and watch people on Instagram hanging out at Disney. I ask myself why I miss Florida so much when at the time when we left I wanted so desperately to leave. I’ve started analyzing this at least twice a day on my drives to and from work. It’s not the weather, because my hair does not miss that humidity, though I have already started to dread the snow. It’s not my old job. It’s not our apartment.
I’ve narrowed it down to this, and I’ve sort of mentioned it before. Florida was Wonderland. Marc and I hid out there living our life in seclusion. When I had a horrendous day (and there were many) we would simply walk down the street, stroll into Universal, and I could ride the damn Hogwarts Express back and forth until I forgot why my day was so terrible. I can’t explain to you the immense feeling of joy I would get when we’d be on the train and the music would start up and Hogwarts would show up on the window screen. I had so many places there where I could just hide from things that were real and I could forget that there was this whole other life going on outside of the theme parks where bad things happened. I could sit outside of Hogwarts and drink a butterbeer and afterwards we would walk home in the dark and laugh about stupid things while trying to avoid the swarms of gnats that flew around the bridge we crossed to get to our apartment.
When I would leave to visit my family it was like I was reminded that life was still continuing and people were going through things. It would make me sad and after a few days I would run back to my Wonderland, put on my Minnie ears and ride the carousel because I didn’t want to feel that sad feeling anymore.
Here there is nowhere to hide. Trust me, I’ve looked. I’ve hiked stairs and steep hills, visited the most beautiful waterfalls, but it’s not Wonderland. And working in a college you can’t escape real life. Everything is real, and it’s overwhelming, and sometimes I feel helpless and I just want to run away.
Florida and my theme parks were my OASIS. I watch people on Instagram at Disney because I miss having somewhere to runaway to and hide. Where I didn’t have to be ‘on’ all the time. Where I could find a nice wall to sit on near the castle, my legs dangling, popcorn in hand, a lot of the time just there by myself surrounded by thousands of people I didn’t know, watching Tink fly through the air and listening to everyone gasp and cheer. Everyone else was in their OASIS too, taking a break from real life, wearing silly shirts and hats.
I remember ten years ago when Marc took me to see Illuminations for the first time. We stood leaning forward against the railing watching the ducks swim by. Our elbows were touching. My hair was in frizzy poofy pigtails. I talked about how I wanted to be a writer, whatever that meant. I remember watching the fireworks and there’s this part where the fountains are going and the song is building up while the videos play on the globe, it still gives me butterflies when I hear it, just like when I heard it the first time. It’s when I fell in love with Marc, fell in love with Wonderland, and jumped down the rabbit hole without having any idea what to expect.
I think I knew leaving Wonderland would be hard. I don’t think I knew how hard. Because it’s been over a year and sometimes when I’m watching Fantasmic through someone else’s cracked iPhone lens after a long day I just wish we could pack up everything and drive back so I could go buy a soft pretzel and sit in the front row of the theater jamming to the part of the show where the monkeys are dancing on the boats.
But real life isn’t going anywhere, and as my girl Dory says, we gotta just keep swimming.
May we always look back and think
(it was better than it was)
Maybe these are the moments
(Maybe I’ve been missing what it’s about)
Been scared of the future, thinking about the past
(While missing out on now)
We’ve come so far, I guess I’m proud
- “Good Old Days” Macklemore ft. Kesha