At 3:15 on a Friday afternoon I stuffed myself into my best friend's mom's car. Already this wasn't quite the romanticized vision of roadtrippery I'd expected. I couldn't untwist my ankles for some time, because I was sharing my leg space with bags and bags of food, books, my sleeping bag, a cooler filled with equal parts Diet Pepsi and little syringes of medication, and another person. It was in this car that I spent the longest stretch of my life to date away from home. "Home" in this case being both people related to me, and my residence in suburban Illinois. Things I saw at 70 miles an hour ranged from beautiful (shale cliffs and rivers in Kentucky) to absurd (an field in Georgia with a lone black billboard proclaiming "HELL IS REAL") and back, but it never felt like I was in those places actually experiencing them. Places happened when the car stopped and I was disentangled from it, everything else fabrications and pictures.
Place 2: Disney World, Florida.
(Note that I'm skipping some places-- the parking lot of a Hardee's in the Indianapolis area, an interestingly graffitied gas station bathroom in Tennessee, the most rural part of Kentucky with scenery like a Tim Burton movie come to life--all stories for another day, children.)
Purportedly the happiest place on Earth, teeming with wide-eyed little kids, nostalgic parents, and cheerful employees whose pay (dependent upon their attitudes, I'm sure.) I'd pondered more than once. The first day I woke up around 7:30--always an early riser in strange settings. It seems like everyone is. (This may be some kind of evolutionary advantage. The unconscious ability to sense the foreign would come in handy.) It was raining. This is a contradiction in itself, people don't usually find happiness in rain, but we marched out, poncho-clad and determined to see magic.
Magic it was--the magic ability of a place to make its inhabitants 8 years old, its ability to strike conversations on a bus with people from Belgium and Georgia and everywhere else, its ability to make so many small things seem like magic--hot pastries,trespassing onto a purposeless stone table for picture opportunities, the way thousands of lights glint off rain after dark, everything and everyone spinning and screaming and constantly soundtracked by Disney music.
I'd never been more wet in my life for a longer amount of time (I caught a cold because of this, by the way. Funny how I had previously dismissed that as a myth. . .), and I'd never cared less. There were other days in other parks, but this blog is about the first and most vividly memorable, in the Magic Kingdom. There are some places 18 straight hours of rain can only enhance.