Remedial Fun

I wasn’t fitted with receptors that derive merriment from actual merriment. No, I derive no fun from singing and dancing, or any party-type atmosphere. My fun begins when a reveler begins to question the what and why of what she’s doing. She obviously can’t talk to another party-goer that’s in the midst of having fun, no, but there’s me over in the corner sitting silently.

And so it happens, the conversation begins. The questions that only recently started passing through her thoughts, I’ve thought about for years. I can relate and validate. And those complaints about other party-goers? Why I agree, in fact here are some more. And in the questioning of our condition mixed with a bit of shared distaste — we find common ground.

That was my character and how he interacted with the world. If you wanted to complain about existence, I was there to listen and agree. Now? Not so much. When I hear and see disparagement of life I tend to react defensively. I see the complainer as an ungrateful brat not even trying to appreciate all the good things that have been graciously provided.

Of course that convicts ME and I realize how pessimistic I’ve been all these years. I’m the brat times ten — the one always pointing out the worst of everything. Well, I apologize. But an apology is meaningless unless I keep trying to rectify my wrongdoing. And so in my actual life I’m currently committed to enjoying my surroundings. And so far, things are going well.

Just yesterday morning I took my bike out and rode all around town. I had a great time just cruisin’ along the nice little neighborhoods, lookin’, enjoyin’ the sensation of movement. I never did that in the seven years I lived at my previous place for instance. And the day before that, my mom commented how much she enjoyed her time with us over at Epcot.

Boy was it hot out that day, but we made it over to Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie, the bakery at the French pavilion — one of my favorite stops in all of Disney. I had a Napoleon, a chocolate Eclair, and a Palmier — tres bon! The World Showcase is definitely one of my favorite aspects of Disney World. (Okay one complaint, just one!!! They need more shade-trees.)

So that’s my life now, learning how to have fun. I guess that’s cool. I was in need of a change anyway.

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Mousekeeping

I’m currently problem-free. Okay, not exactly. My son has his own room for the first time in his life, which seems to be affecting his ability to sleep — plus, he’s about to start attending school for the first time ever. In addition to that, my wife seems strained by her leadership position within the household — she recently moved us to a new state and into a new home, so I guess managing all that is taking its toll. My only issue right now, is that I have to watch two people I care about deal with stress.

Beyond that, I’m just along for the ride. I kinda wish I could help, but nobody wants my help. And frankly, I don’t know how to help. It seems like each is entering a new chapter of their life and they just have to figure out a way to appreciate it. As for me, I’ve been having a great time going to theme parks, bike-riding, walking to the bakery, shopping — I’ve just been appreciating the heck outta my current situation. Prior to this, my whole life has been self-inflicted stress and strain, but I’m done with that.

I really feel at home here, more than anywhere else I’ve lived. I AM an annual passholder dammit! — it’s just what I am. I know my way around Disney, the parks, the rides, the resorts, the restaurants — as well as the little town that Disney built down at the end of World Drive. I have no imposter syndrome here. When I came back, I knew it like I never left. Despite the intense heat and high humidity, I breathed a sigh of relief. Mickey, it’s good to see you again!

Every little life on Earth is a silly experience, that’s just the nature of being an embodied being. I’m realizing that, and I’m accepting the fact that I’m a silly little human that was born and bred to be a dedicated Disney fanatic, to pick up where my mom left off, and carry the Mouse-eared torch even further. Yeah that sounds Goofy, but so what. It’s all a Fantasyland upon this Small World, this Spaceship Earth that’s Soarin’ around the stars — might as well enjoy the ride… Ta ta for now!

Have a Role

So what is the role with which I most identify? Obviously I’ve most identified with my inner-observer. I so often sit still watching life go by. But I don’t mind that, I don’t lament my inactivity, I’m more freaked out when life tries to engage with me. I’m like a tourist inside of a safari vehicle driving through the savannah watching all the action safely from my seat. But if the tour-guide stops the vehicle and asks me to step outside, then that’s a no for me dawg.

I can understand that in order to relate to life, I kinda have to live it a bit. But a bit is enough, just a taste is all it takes. In other words, to enjoy the performance, it’s best if I can connect to the material in some way. Beyond that, I actually do feel confined by certain limitations. For example, whenever I try to do stuff, it doesn’t really work out the way I want it to — so maybe life doesn’t even want me doing things on my own. Maybe I really am supposed to sit still in the audience.

On the other hand, life might just be throwing obstacles in my way in order to provide a challenging experience. That’s what games do, isn’t it — provide hurdles between the start and finish lines. A game without challenge isn’t fun. Competing in a contest and feeling the eventual triumph is always a good time. Maybe I’m just being a baby about it, “Boohoo, life is hard!”. Maybe I just have to accept the challenge and keep pushing forward with what I want to do.

But that’s the question isn’t it — what do I want to do? Frankly, not much.

[Fast forward to the next day…]

In that previous moment of contemplation while considering how uninspired I was, I was struck with an idea to go to Disney with my son. And so that’s what we did. It was an epic adventure too. We explored a newly built area, we took a boat to another park, we got FastPasses and rode rides, as a team we ordered popcorn and paid, we strolled the streets of far-off lands, we ate French pastries, we walked to resorts — it was just an overall good time.

In many ways I’m like a fish in water at Disney. And with a little-boy in tow to wonder at the sights and sounds, we’re the perfect duo to have a Magical Day. Maybe life really is meant for living.

Hotel Preferences

Having stayed in so many hotels recently (seven or so), as well as a whole bunch last year, here are some features that I prefer.

A scenic view, typically water (like an ocean for example).
A balcony with adequate overhead-covering, privacy, and seating.
A suite that includes a bedroom, desk, sitting area, and a kitchen/kitchenette.
A standup glass-enclosed shower.
A top-floor if not too high (4 stories for example), otherwise middle to low numbered floor (not ground).
Modern, clean, and no rugs.
High ceilings.
A grand lobby entrance.
A quiet non-lobby entrance/exit for bringing bags/luggage in and out.
Quality in-hotel dining options.
Walking distance to local points of interest is nice too.
Adequate self-parking.
Fast internet.
Laundry facility.

I’m not sure I stayed at any one place that had all those preferences met, but that’s the ideal I’m shootin’ for when I go to a hotel I suppose.

My tastes tend to be Disney-deluxe/with-view — not too fancy, kinda-faux-fancy, and family friendly. If I won the lottery tomorrow for example, you’d catch me over at the Grand Floridian in the lobby listenin’ to the live music that evening. Sometimes I go there to visit, but one day I’ll be able to take the exclusive club-concierge elevator to the top.

Florida or Bust

I went from trailer-park to technically homeless — is that an improvement? Hmm. I’m currently in the sixth hotel I’ve stayed-in since leaving my former house for the last time about a week ago. But make no mistake, they’re nice hotels — my friend is very skilled in travel-planning. We even did some sight-seeing along the way.

My mission was to try and enjoy myself. My mantra for the trip was: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy soul, and all thy mind — and love thy neighbor as thyself. Why that? I dunno, it just seemed to comfort me whenever I began to worry. To love the Lord thy God I have to appreciate the buffet of life placed before me — it’s not my place to care or complain — I’m just along for the ride, literally and figuratively.

Of course it wasn’t all peaches (well maybe in Georgia it was), but I have some fond memories. We saw a bunch of stuff in DC for instance. We parked in a deep underground parking garage from which we emerged and walked by many famous sites including the Washington Monument, the White House, the WWII memorial, the reflecting pool, and in the distance I saw the Lincoln memorial. It was hot so we took a bus back from there. From the car while heading out I also saw the Pentagon and the Jefferson memorial.

We went to Colonial Williamsburg after that. We liked it so much last year that we went again this year — but this time our hotel was within walking distance which was nice. And after that we went to Charleston and stayed at a hotel overlooking the waterfront. The view and incoming breeze was by far my favorite. Lying on the lounger on the large balcony just felt right — I like deluxe with view.

So now we’re here but haven’t dropped anchor. It’s good to be back. I’m so familiar with this place it might as well be my home. For the seven years I lived in my previous residence I barely left the house. Here, I’ve been walking out on my own the last few days as if it’s my personal playground. There’s no place in the world that feels as much like home to me. But, the magic must happen for us to find and maintain a physical home here. Luckily this is the place where dreams come true.

P.S. Hi Mickey, I missed you.

For Sale

Last year at this exact time, I was in Walt Disney World. My friend had the absolute need to go there and so we went. She actually wanted to up-and-move to the Disney area but I convinced her that perhaps a several-week vacation would suffice. We stayed with my mother (who lives nearby) for a couple weeks while there. We were probably gone for over three weeks because of the drawn-out travel-time (by car). I thought that would be the end of it.

This year she wanted to return for a vacation. We had used our savings to fund last-year’s travel, and since it hasn’t been replenished, I told her it’s not feasible. Well, now she wants to move there again. We actually used to live there about ten years ago, so that’s not as crazy as it sounds. Personally, I didn’t prefer the unrelenting heat and I kinda like being back in snow-country. But at the start of this year, due to my poor stewardship, I relinquished control over the family, allowing my friend to make the major decisions.

Partly because of wanting to support my friend’s wishes, and partly because I must be more willing to accept life’s narrative, and partly because I don’t prefer living in this particular house, I’m okay with moving. Therefore, we’ll be putting the mobile-home up for sale soon. The most uncomfortable aspect to me is having to empty the house, just the logistical aspect mainly — there’s not much worth bringing and we only have a small car for the stuff we do want.

So in my mind, there’s a 100% chance that we’ll be outta here by the end of the summer or earlier (that’s about 7 years we’ve been here). My wish though, is to travel in a larger, more comfortable vehicle (I was a bit dissatisfied with the car-portion of the trip last year). Plus, I would prefer to have plenty of money to spend along the way and when we arrive. Yes it’s true that selling this small house will provide some savings, but I would prefer significantly more.

At our wedding reception, my wife said, “I used to pray to God that I wanted to marry rich, and when I met my husband he told me he was Rich — and I said, ‘Thank you God!'” Well if “nominative determinism” is real, I think I’m due for a windfall. Funny enough, my actual last name is a synonym for “abrasive” — which does kinda fit me. So after twenty years of being together, I think my friend is due her windfall as well — she’s been the greatest aspect of my life and she’s put up with my abrasiveness all these years.

Have a Magical Day

I’m about to tell a very self-indulgent tale, but it’s my story, a part of who I am. It’s a childish fantasy to be sure, but life often consists of pursuing our childhood dreams.

Soon after I turned 2 years old I was packed into a motorhome with the rest of my family and we traveled down to Walt Disney World. We stayed at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. During my childhood my family would go on two-week vacations every year to visit Mickey and the gang. In my life I never felt more safe or more at home than when I was within the confines of Disney World.

At my house, I sat in my room all day. At Disney I rode my bike to breakfast, ordered my favorite french toast, and made friends with another little boy as we sat eating our syrup soaked meals. I was independent and free to roam. Disney felt like home. When I neared adulthood I stopped accompanying my parents on their yearly pilgrimage. But eventually my parents retired — now take a wild guess where they moved? To a place not too far from Disney.

I was a young-adult still living with my parents at the time, so naturally I moved along with them. Within a month or two of arriving, my mother and my friend both got jobs working for the mouse. My friend and I were on a pretty tight budget so hanging out at Disney consisted of low-cost activities. Plus the house was a bit too far to go anytime we wanted. In short, it was no vacation.

Overall I was pretty unsatisfied living with my parents at that point. One day my friend told me to get in the car, she had to show me a place she saw while working. When we arrived at our destination my jaw dropped, I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. It was Celebration, the town that Disney built. The quaint little neighborhoods, the Water Street canal, the brick-lined street of the downtown — I needed to live there.

My friend and I didn’t have much money but Celebration even thought of that too. They had something called “garage apartments”, little rentable studio apartments located above people’s garages. But unfortunately, we were a bit too unimpressed by the offerings. I continued looking through listings while keeping my eye on a particular top-floor condo overlooking Water Street.

By some miracle, I found a well-paying work-at-home computer-programming position and my budget increased significantly. I was able to rent the condo I wanted. My friend and I moved in. In the evenings we would often walk down to the diner, then sit at the counter eating meatloaf and coconut cream pie, or sometimes we’d go to the tavern and have blackened prime-rib sandwiches.

But unfortunately I was busy working most of the time, the condo was crawling with palmetto bugs, and the sound of leaf-blowers woke me up every morning. It wasn’t quite the fantasy I imagined. But no biggie, I simply moved to a different set of condos, the ones I envied from the very first day I visited Celebration — the ones named Mirasol. We lived in a top-floor 2-bedroom unit with a balcony from which we could view the fireworks.

From Celebration we could drive to wherever we wanted in Disney. We’d often head over to different resorts to have lunch or dinner and walk around. My favorite restaurant was Boma, the buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. As far as parks, our favorite activity was simply walking through the World Showcase in Epcot and finishing up with some sweet treats at the Boulangerie-Patisserie.

Eventually my foray into the business world began to crumble. I was going to lose my income so I was starting to sour towards everything in my vicinity. I left Florida not long after and returned to the region of my birth. I felt a sense of relief when I got back to snow-country, vowing never to return to that wicked land of hurricanes and heat.

It’s almost the ten-year anniversary of our Disney Fairy Tale Wedding. We were legally married in the northeast but my friend insisted on a fancy wedding at Disney. She received a discount since she worked for Mickey. My friend is a bit of an enchantress, so in the almost two-decades I’ve known her, she’s persuaded me to believe in magic. She’s recently convinced me that we should go back and live in Disney.

Yes that’s right, inside of Disney. I always wanted to live in Fort Wilderness, so it infused me with childlike delight when I first learned of Golden Oak, Disney’s luxury resort community located literally down the street from Fort Wilderness. I knew of its existence before I left Florida, I even drove past the newly constructed gate a few times, before there were any houses built.

I felt a bit emotional the other day when I thought about actually living in Disney World, like I had always wanted to do. It felt right, like I was finally going home. Disney was the only place I felt a sense of belonging and comforting familiarity. I can go on and on about Disney and all the places within it. But me and Disney, we parted on bad terms. But maybe, just maybe we were meant to be.

Of course it’s a fantasy to think I could ever afford to live in Golden Oak. But my friend made me believe in magic, and with magic anything’s possible. I would most likely need to win the lottery to make it happen, but I’m open to other windfalls as well. Why not, right? I’ve abandoned pessimism as my underlying philosophy of life, have I gone too far in the opposite direction? I really hope so.

I think of this not just for myself of course, since I’ve proven that I can subsist within a tiny room with minimal outside contact. But my friend asked this of me, the friend that removed the thorn of loneliness that plagued me throughout the first half of my life. For her I’m willing to restructure my concept of reality. Why not, right? And so they lived happily ever after….