Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fifth and FINAL

(Or maybe I will squeak in a sixth part. Our homecoming was pretty epic.)
And CAUTION, this post is long, rambly and deals with feelings.

So. AnyWAYS, here we are in Disneyland ...

Wait. Can I pause here? For an 'aside'?

We are in Disneyland very intentionally. By my design. And, OK maybe God's too...)
(I did pray about it, but it was more like, "Dear God, this year is almost up and we (O's) haven't gone on a family vacation yet... I've looked at all our options, and I think it's going to be Disneyland. What do you think?" Then there was the usual silence. So I said, "I'm going to move forward with a plan. CLOSE doors you don't want me to walk through...)

Seeing no doors closed (or maybe He was closing doors, and I kept pushing them open? Like running through the border on Friday morning? Was that Him? Saying 'stay home'? It's all so confusing when one spiritualizes everything, no?) anyway, seeing there was room for us on affordable flights, and we got a motel room for cheap, and had access to discounted Disney passes, and seeing Halee lives 10 minutes from Anaheim and had room in her house for Danica - it all seemed like the perfect place for me and my boys to vacation at.

In the summer of 2000, on a whim, I borrowed my mom's Astro Van and packed it up with 6 kids (ages 6 - 13), two tents, two coolers, 7 lawnchairs, a 20-year-old propane cookstove, my Omi's homemade dining room table (finished in high gloss, dark brown, woodgrain arborite), and a large colorful yard umbrella. We were going to Creationfest for the first time and I was whoa-fully under-prepared.

Regardless, it was such a good experience, that we went back the following year. And the following year. With more kids, older kids, more families joining us, and in a fully loaded motorhome. This had become our tradition. It was our 'family vacation'.

Clint and Max eventually stopped coming due to summer jobs, and in 2009, I went for the last time with just 3 fifteen year old boys.

I needed to find an alternate holiday situation that we (I) could look forward to, annually. So we started a new trend; exploring cities. First it was Montreal. Then New York. And last year, London. But this year? This year it was harder to pull all the pieces (aka children) together... we all had commitments that prevented us from having time off prior to November. And really, in Novemeber, I'm still awfully busy at work, what with year-end mailings and galas and whatnot. And Clint, in his third year of university, was thigh high in essays and projects... but these four days were the only ones on the calendar that worked. So we went with it.

And I chose Disneyland because it is:
1. In a warm locale.
2. Family-friendly.
3. A happy place to be.

The "family friendly" aspect was important, because we are an uneven (some mathematicians might say "odd") assembly of humans; one female, three males. Or if you add the girls; three boys, two girls, one mom. YES. Yes, I totally DO overthink things. I didn't want to be at a place where everyone was coupled up. I wanted to be around families. And I WAS fully aware, going into this, that on those rides where people had to be partnered, Drew would chose Danica, Max would choose Halee, and by default, Clint would be stuck with me. And that = a FAIL from any 24 year old boy's point of view. "So, yeah! I was in Disneyland! And I went on the Matterhorn with MY MOM." So not cool.

I couldn't remember how many rides were twosies and how many were singles. Fingers and toes were crossed that the good ones were group rides.

Back to Friday night.
We are in Disneyland. The five of us. (Halee was going to join us around 10 pm after she got off work.)

We've done the Jungle Cruise and it was exactly as cheesy and perfect as we all remembered. Next stop? Would've been Pirates of the Caribbean, but it was closed. So on to the Haunted Mansion.
And it's a two seater. I go as a single.

Fun. But not over-the-top fun.
We get our passes for Indian Jones, then head over to Space Mountain.
Again - this is a two seater. I go as a single.

Matterhorn - a two seater. I go as a single.

And so on, all evening long.

At 10, Halee arrives and has brought MacKenzie, her roommmate, with her.
We go on a few more rides, all two seaters, I go as a single.

You know, the more times you get to the front of a line and say 'single' the less you feel like a loser. Not. I'm used to being single in real life, it's not as big a deal anymore. But in fantasy life, where everyone is happy and well-fed, well-rested, and well-loved - it sucks.

I'm not complaining. I KNEW this was a possibility. It just sucked a little more than I expected.

We stayed at the park til midnight, then took the tram back to the parking garage, then drove back to our hotel, arriving just before dawn. (No we didn't. We were 'home' by 1:15am. ) The girls were at Halee's. I had three man-childs who were looking at me to prepare them their midnight meal. We tried ordering pizza, but no one was delivering. So we watched HBO and fell asleep, a little after 2. (Well, I stayed up til I knew they were all SOUND asleep because I could hear them talking about how loud my snoring was while I was still awake. My eyes were closed and I was praying but I was also snoring. Who does this? What kind of freak show am I?)

We decided to meet up with the girls at IHOP the next morning.

View from our motel room.

Clint is in pain with shin splints, and my legs barely move after yesterday's last minute marathon run.
"I wonder if MacKenzie is going to come?" Clint mused.
"Are you OK with that?" I ask. "Are you comfortable being paired up with someone you don't know at all?"
"Heck yeah. She's great. I'm glad she's here. It's way better than the alternative. I have someone to go on rides with... sucks when you have to do them by yourself."

Yes it does, I say to myself.

MacKenzie does join us for another day of fun, and it was a perfect day, weather wise, to spend in a theme park.

We decide to 'do' California Adventure Park first, where we meet up with the current Mrs. O and my boy's little brother. He is beyond excited to see them - huge hugs and smiles as he charges into each of them.

They decide to meet again in Disneyland later in the afternoon and do a bunch of rides together.

We head over to get passes for World of Color for later in the evening, then get something to eat. The afternoon is filled with lots of rides and me taking many photos.

It was perfect.

At around 3:30 pm, the kids decide to go on Star Tours again. I am definitely not joining them. I did that ride the night before and felt nauseous afterwards...
We make arrangements; they meet up with Mikail and Sherry and I will see them at the outdoor coffee area in Tomorrow Land in an hour.

I wander through the tech show building and take a look at the "house of the future", then stand in line to see Captain EO (the 3D movie with Michael Jackson that was likely cutting edge in 1986 but not so much now.) It has started to rain, so I move from my outdoor cafe seat to the last available one next to the building under the overhang. I pull out my book club book and start to read.

The sun is setting and I decide to capture a few photos of the rain slicked pavement, so I get my camera out of my backpack (which, by the way, the boys have been carrying around the park without complaining, even though it is white with silver swirls and pink accents) only to discover that my 50mm lens has cracked.

I am in Disneyland. Sitting by myself. In the rain. Reading a book about the second world war. With a broken camera lens, aching legs, tired feet and a lonely heart. Someone should write a country/western song about me and my pathetic circumstances.

One of the kids ran back to let me know they were heading over to Frontierland to go on more rides with Mikhail - they'd be back in an hour.

So I hunkered down and chatted with God in between chapters of The Postmistress (a novel about three partnerless women and their experiences during the war...) and got colder and colder. I was a miserable mess. I needed to connect with my kids. Not just bring them to a happy place. I needed to have a 'mom moment'. You know?

The only way I could see of redeeming this day was to take the kids out for a good dinner (Outback Steakhouse was just down the street) and cuddle up on the beds in our hotel room to watch whatever HBO was offering.

And then.

Then three very happy people came bouncing into the covered cafe area with, "What's next? Let's go on Matterhorn again! "
"Wow mom. You look kinda sad sittin here... comon, let's go!"

"Where are Max, Halee and MacKenzie?" I ask.
"They had to go, but Max and Halee will be back later. Probably around 10. I'm hungry, let's get something to eat."

I let their enthusiasm fill my depleted supply as we made our way to New Orlean's Square for some grub. Drew, who was walking in front of me, turned around and said, "You should have brought Sanjeet along." That was his way of acknowledging I didn't have a ride buddy like the rest of them :)

Danica and I had roast beef, Drew and Clint had some cajun Jumbalayian mess. With our tummies full, we wander over to Main Street and bask in the novelty of it all. The rain has stopped, most of the families with young kids have left the park, cheerful Christmas music is playing on all the speakers, the roadways are glistening with the reflection of all the Christmas lights and it is warm.

It is surreal. Feels like we are on a Christmas Movie set. As extras.

Drew and Danica shop. Clint and I fiddle with my camera.

Then we (the 4 of us) go over to California Adventure Park to see some water show about color.

And it is a holy moment. As in WHOAlly moment.
None of us are prepared for it's awesomeness.

It is amazing.

We are spellbound.

In awe.

Blown away.


We all look at each other when it is over and decide we must come back in an hour to see it again. It was all that.
And more.

It is then that I have my 'mom' moment.
We've all shared something bigger than ourselves and were all touched in exactly the same way. We were united in our desire to do it all over again. They were thinking and feeling the same way I was... and this is a rare thing.

My heart was full. My face was happy. My arms were warm.
It was all good.

At 9:15 pm we go back and watch again. And it is just as powerful. So Well Done. You have no option but to smile and sing along. Like a good worship set.

We meet up with Max and Halee 'round 10:30 pm do a few more rides...
We finish Big Thunder Railway (no lineup) and Clint, Drew and Danica race over to Space Mountain for another go, when Max comes up beside me and puts his arm around me.
"So mom. Is this weekend turning out like you had hoped?" he asks.
"Yeah. It's good." I reply.
"No. Tell me. Is it as good as you expected?"
"Hmmmm. There've been a few bumps but overall it's been just fine."
"Like what? Tell me...."
"Oh. I dunno. I'll probably process it all with my fingers on a keyboard..."
"You'll have to read her blog," Halee notes.
"She's my mom," Max says. "I shouldn't have to go looking on the internet to see how she's feeling."
Then he looks at me. "Seriously mom. You need to figure out a way to talk about these things. Not wait til you can blog about it."



Where did this boy come from?

"So?" he asks again.
"Well," I start, "I'm glad we're in Disneyland. It's still the best place we could have come this weekend. It's joy-filled and happy and there's lots to do. And it is family oriented. But.... But I wasn't expecting the 'couple culture' here. I was thinking "family group" whereas a lot of the rides are really about being part of a twosome. The new rides are better, but all the old ones? Definitely are designed for two people to cuddle."
"I can see that," Halee says. "I come here often with friends, and it does suck if you're a single."

"I've been protecting myself for years against situations where I'm going to feel awkward about being single. If I know I'm the only single person, and I know there are going to moments of romance or affection, like say, at a New Year's Eve party? I just don't go. I wasn't expecting my singleness to be an issue here. But it seems to have popped up all day long."

I pause.

"and that's how I feel about this weekend. I'm glad we're here. And surprised that I feel alone. I was not expecting that."

And just like that *snaps fingers, I've had my 'mom' moment with Max.

They eventually kick us out of the park. Max and Halee go to pick up pizza, and we meet back at our hotel for our 1 am meal. We lounge on the beds and watch HBO; Robin Williams in RV Vacation and it was good.

Perfect even. 


Anonymous said...

the Beatles wrote a great song that seems appropriate "Can't buy me love"...

Anonymous said...

Yo Jane,
I had tears in my eyes as I read your blog entries. I hear you.
The best part about going with Allison was that she didn't care much for the rides - she mostly wanted to shop, eat ice cream and watch the shows/parades so it was easy to ignore the couple-ness of Disneyland.
I'm glad you all got to go.
Love September