Walt Disney once said, "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning, together with every variety of recreation and fun designed to appeal to everyone."
I just read this on Facebook, as I've "liked" Disneyland and they post interesting factoids and fun stuff every day. But none of the posts have moved me enough to repost them, or write about them in my blog even! But this one hits.
Forty years ago this July, my mom took me on our first-ever (and only) girls' only trip. It marked a turbulent time for my mom, having just lost her own mother the year before. I remember watching the ambulance pull up, I remember saying good bye to Baba (hey, we're Czech, it's okay) and I remember the interminable hours spent at the wake, chewing on sugar cubes and running in circles in the basement area reserved for family only.
But what I remember most vividly, and what still makes me shudder, was the despair, the sadness, the greyness that hovered over my mom like a damp fog.
I'm sure my mom needed a great get-away; kudos to her for making it a girls' only trip, even after my sugar cube-fueled scampering freakfest. You'd think she'd want to have some quiet time away from Little Miss Frenetic, or alone time with my dad. But no -- it was Bea (my mom) and the Peanut (that would be me).
Perhaps it was more important for my mom to make sure she and I had a trip so memorable, so special, that bonded us in a way that she and her mother never were. Our trip marked a turning point for my mom. She never spoke of it, but looking back now, after going through my own chrysalis stages and rebirths, I can see that the mom I left home with and the one I returned with were different. I trusted her more. I loved her more. Plus -- she was my new-found playmate (though very nicely dressed and most often with a cigarette perched between her fingers). And much of it was due to what we shared at Disneyland.
We dove into a world of fantasy that both of us reveled in and learned from. We wandered through a mainstreet from another time and embraced its slow, steady sweetness. And we giggled like the little girls we both were.
In my office, on top of my white bookcase is a straw hat, a child-sized "Mary Poppins" hat, complete with silk daisy and plastic cherry, a treasured souvenir from our trip. It reminds me that at Disneyland, dreams do come true.
See you in my dreams, Mom.