Saturday, 11 January 2014

Happily Ever After (?)

I can't sleep.

In four weeks today I will be moving out of the apartment that I have called home for a year, saying goodbye to the people that have become my best friends, and leaving the job that I spent my entire life dreaming about.

I was surprised at the number of people that emailed me during my first month in Florida. I had the emails that I expected- from my best friends and family- but I also had a lot from unexpected sources. From people that I never would have guessed would think of me. And every email said the same thing.

I was worried about you Rebecca. I was worried about the repercussions of having your dream come true. 

I was surprised and flattered in equal measure that people would take the time to think- and worry- about the fact that my dream had come true.

It never even occurred to me to worry about that, let alone people I hadn't spoken to for six months.

At the time I told them not to worry- that my dream coming true was absolutely nothing to be concerned about, thank you very much.

But I do vaguely remember thinking- what about when it's over? Surely that's the time to worry about? That's the time that the repercussions are going to set in?

Where do you go from your biggest, wildest dream?

I can only imagine that people were worried that working for Disney wasn't going to be what I had thought.

Fortunately it was my dream for a reason- I had done enough research to know that it was exactly what I wanted.

What I hadn't considered was that it would finish. 

I have managed to stay in denial about this fact for almost an entire year, but as the rest of my arrival group began booking flights and applying for jobs in the UK I had to begin to face reality.

I remember somebody posting on Facebook once that I wouldn't be able to live in the real world again after living in Walt Disney World for an entire year. My response to that was that I don't think I ever did.

And why should I?

If I can find a way to remain a functional member of society, to earn my own money, pay my own way and respect those around me, what's wrong with seeing the magic in everything?

Since deciding to accept my fate I have, alongside flights and UK jobs, started to look for magic outside of Walt Disney World, to prove to myself (and now you) that this isn't where all the magic lives, that I can continue to be happy outside of the happiest place on earth, and that I can Keep It Magical wherever I may go next...

1. Pumbaa.

Three weeks ago Pumbaa was asleep in her bed when her boyfriend came in and woke her up with a cup of tea and a wrapped present- a DVD. Padding downstairs in her onesie, cup of tea in hand, she put the DVD on and began to watch it.

It was a series of photos of her and her boyfriend set to the song Love Is Easy by Mcfly. If you don't know this song- in fact, even if you do- please listen to it now. It's wonderful. The song in itself is proof that magic exists outside of Walt Disney World.

When the video finished playing, she turned around to find her boyfriend on one knee.

2. Saks Fifth Avenue

When I was in New York we were wandering down a street in search of the Rockefeller Centre (I was wandering. I'm fairly sure that Dale knew exactly where we were going), when we saw 3.52 until show time! projected in huge red letters on the side of the building on the opposite side of the street.

On closer inspection we saw that that building was, in fact, Saks Fifth Avenue (and we were almost right outside the Rockefeller Centre) but we still had no idea what was going to happen.

When the time was up the entire wall was filled with the story of a modern Christmas- presents, ice skaters and decorations accompanied by powerful, dramatic music made it an absolutely beautiful show, and provided magic to the streets of New York on a freezing cold, December evening.

3. Merida.

This one, I will admit, did happen in Walt Disney World, but it was the person that I am about to quote that made this magical, and I totally believe that she would have said this wherever we were.

"I'm being very magical tonight Rebecca. I think it's because I've got curly hair today. It just makes me feel magical."

4. Exciting news.

Almost two weeks ago I woke up to a message from a friend. A good friend that I hadn't spoken to for a while. The message said: Let me know when you're free to talk.

A rock immediately hit the bottom of my stomach.

It must be bad news. If she didn't have something specific to tell me, she would have asked how I was. Or said she hoped I was doing well. Or something. 

I replied immediately asking if she was okay.

A while later, having still not heard from her, I hopped in the shower.

When I got out again, I had another message: Are you still there?

Definitely bad news.

I typed out, with shaky hands, that I was back again.

While I waited for her reply, I put my new favourite song on: Love is Easy by Mcfly (at this point Pumbaa had been engaged for eight days and I had listened to no other band).

Just as the song reached the chorus, she replied.

With a baby scan.

5. Monopoly

I recently Skyped my brothers and their girlfriends whilst they were playing Monopoly with my mum and her boyfriend.

Mowgli was winning.

Thank goodness.

Mowgli once got so competitive during an evening playing on the eye toy (do you remember the eye toy? It was like the original, and far more basic, wii) that he ran upstairs and changed into his gym gear for a running race. When I beat him in my dress and leggings I thought he might actually kill me.

So Mowgli has always been competitive and this time was no exception. While he was gloating about the number of houses he had, Chip was making fun of him. My mum was saying silly things in silly voices because she always does. My brothers' girlfriends were sitting on the floor with huge (ridiculously beautiful) smiles whilst the dog was running around and barking in the background.

For anyone that's never been away from their family this probably doesn't sound magical at all. For someone that has been away for an entire year from the best people in the entire world- it's something worth giving anything for.

(Mowgli won, if you were interested, so my brothers are still friends.)

6. Turkeys.

Now many of you may already know this but for those of you that were not aware, my friend Piglet is a vegan. So when it came to Thanksgiving she came out the night before and celebrated, she joined us for dinner on the actual day and just avoided the turkey, and spent the evening putting the world to rights in front of Harry Potter with the rest of us.

But after a few too many celebratory thanksgiving drinks, it just didn't feel like she'd done enough....

So she sponsored three turkeys: Harriet, Minerva and Thomas.

I'll not tell you how much she spent but to put it into perspective it was her wages for Thanksgiving week. 

She now continues to receive emails on their progress.


7. Sara Bareilles.

A few weeks ago a different dream of mine came true- one that I never thought would happen. I saw Sara Bareilles live. She was amazing. Her stage presence was totally different from what I thought it would be and she far exceeded my expectations, but it wasn't just this that made it magical.

The concert that she performed in was in aid of a children's hospital. Before she sang Brave (again, if you haven't heard it, listen to it right now) she brought a five year old boy named Joshua on stage. She explained that Joshua was the bravest person she had ever met and, after talking to him and being silly with him for a minute, she told the audience that he had asked whether he would be able to sing for everyone.

So Sara Bareilles and the entire audience (bear in mind how spine-tingling it is when an entire audience sings the words with no music) sang the words 'Sat what you wanna say, and let the words fall out, honestly...' then five year old Joshua confidently, whilst doing that half bop that five year olds do, shouted the words 'I wanna see you be brave.'

The whole audience- from big, beefy, fifty year old men to super skinny eighteen year old girls had tears streaming down their faces.

It was one of the most magical moments I have ever been a part of.

8. Concerts in general.

I always feel magical at concerts. I'll always cry at least once, laugh at least once, remember someone I haven't spoken to for ages, feel sentimental for the past and excited for the future....

This year I have been to so many more concerts than I ever expected to, and I loved every single one of them, but there was a moment during the John Mayer concert that I don't think I will ever forget.

I was daydreaming.

I was thinking that when I got home I needed to get my costume ready for the next day. I was wondering whether Dale would be home from work yet. I was contemplating whether to buy peanut buttercups on the way home or to be sensible and wait for toast at home.

When John caught my attention (yes, we're on first name terms). He was saying 'come back'. He said that he knew that mentally we had all left the room. We had all gone home and started doing other things. He told us to leave our houses. Get back in the car, drive back to the venue, park up again, and walk back to our seats and sit down.

Enjoy the moment whilst it's still happening.

I turned to the person next to me.

'Were you daydreaming about what you were going to do when you got home?'

'Oh my God I was that's so weird....'

We passed it down the line.

Everyone had mentally gone back home.

After he told us to all come back something in the atmosphere changed.

It became more magical....

Anyone who knows me well will know that I treat John Mayer's songs as everything I need to know about life. You know in Love Actually, how Karen says that Joni Mitchell taught her how to love?

John Mayer (with the help of Avenue Q and Dr Seuss) taught me how to live. He has taught me how to deal with life and everything it throws at you.

When I almost had a nervous breakdown about turning twenty (I know, I'll never cope with turning fifty), I became obsessed with Stop This Train. When I had my first big break up I couldn't stop listening to Slow Dancing In a Burning Room. And now? Now that I'm terrified about facing life after My Dream Come True? I keep replaying his words.

Stay in the room.

Come back to the present, and enjoy what's happening now.

Equally prominent in my mind just now is Richard Curtis's new film About Time. If you haven't seen it yet- make sure you do when you get the chance.

The story is that just after his twenty-first birthday, Tim finds out that every man in his family is able to go back in time- anywhere that they have been before. So if anything goes disastrously wrong, they can just leave the room, go back in time and change what happens.

Imagine if you could do that? If everything you did could be undone. How differently would you live your life?

One of my guests the other day told me that it's the things you don't do in life that you regret (that's also an Inbetweeners quote but I didn't want to crush her joy at passing on this piece of wisdom so I didn't mention it), and since seeing this film I have done so many things that I would never normally do, imagining that I would have the chance to do it again if it was a disaster.

None of them have been disasters yet. I don't regret a single one of them.

So between them John Mayer and Richard Curtis have got me living in the moment and doing things that I would never normally have the guts to do. My friends and family and sometimes strangers in the street are reminding me that magic is everywhere, not just inside Walt Disney World.

Between you, you're all making me feel far better about the whole thing.

In fact, as I take off my ears, pack up my Disney merchandise and bid a see ya real soon to all my favourite characters, I'm beginning to think that maybe a Dream Come True is just the start of a far bigger adventure....

...and that I might find a way to live happily ever after after all...

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