Opinions: From the desk: Magical moments

I did as I normally do every other week. I sat down at the desk in the corner of my room in the pitch black except for a lamp illuminating the area directly around my laptop. There were papers and letters and water bottles scattered on the ground and deadlines creeping toward me.

I was on empty, and sleep was dragging me further down into the darkness.

With my next vacation mere days away, I was attempting to write a column about my life-long love of Walt Disney World. There are only two more days until Spring Break begins, March 10, and I’ll be waking up bright and early at 4:30 a.m. to catch a 7:15 a.m. flight to my happy place.

Normally I fill the silence with the comforting long, deep notes of Gregorian chants, but on that day, I opted for some of my favorite music from various movies like “Tangled,” “Hercules” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

On my phone I have a playlist encompassing over 100 Disney songs pulled from everything from animated movies to park rides to nighttime shows. At least half of those I can belt out every lyric. Ask anyone who’s ridden in the car with me, and they’ll describe the nervousness they feel when I’m screaming “We Know the Way” from “Moana” while I’m speeding 50 mph down 109.

Sitting at my desk, however, I had nothing. I was at a loss for words as I tried to describe an entire 18-year-long obsession in a 400-word column. As a freshman, I spent an entire semester researching the Walt Disney Company. I could barely scratch the surface in a 20-minute presentation.

There was no possible way I could do it justice.

The music shuffled to “Fantasmic! Exit Music” and transported me into Mickey’s mind. Sitting in the large, open-air theater, I rooted him on as he drew a long silver sword out of a nearby stone.

Maleficent had taken the form of a dragon and lit the encompassing river on fire. Mickey used the sword to lift water high into the air, put out the flames and shoot sparks at the powerful beast.

To celebrate his victory, an all-white steamboat floated around the bend full of my favorite childhood characters including Stitch, Goofy and Mary Poppins. When the boat finished making its run, Mickey lifted fireworks into the sky with the movement of his hand. A puff of smoke and a flash of light moved the mouse to centerstage for the last time. Dressed in his formal tuxedo, the last line the audience hears is “Some imagination, huh?”

That is the ending to my favorite show in Disney World, “Fantasmic!” On cue, the exit music begins to play, and the tension in my shoulders melts away as I cry with the joy of childhood.

The thought of it seems a little embarrassing–an 18-year-old boy sitting at a laptop shedding tears to Disney music in the middle of the night.

Disney is not at all cheap, and children’s memories as murky. My three-year-old brother TJ most likely will forget spending his fourth birthday in the Magic Kingdom this year, March 14. But it’s impossible to put a pricetag on a child’s expression.

While I don’t remember what rides we rode last time, I can vividly picture the little, toothless, cheeky grin on TJ’s face as he saw Winnie the Pooh come walking towards our lunch table.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that moments are much more precious than memories.

In my first draft of this column, I spent hundreds of words describing my affection for certain attractions, places and shows in the Disney parks. That is a conversation I am up for any time.

I was so caught up in the experiences that I lost sight of the feelings.

“Fantasmic! Exit Music” is a powerful piece of music not because it is a great composition but because it makes me feel like a ten-year-old kid again still wishing on shooting stars and daydreaming about flying off to Neverland.

So I was sitting at my desk worrying about registering for college, finding time for my job and preparing to graduate. Stress seems to accompany me like an old fiend everywhere I go. Now, in my last semester of high school, I look forward to retreating from it all and focusing on the memories I’ll be making with my family in Disney World.

Before adulthood consumes me fully, I’m going to spend my Spring Break wearing Mickey ears, singing along to “It’s a Small World” and watching the dragons of this world be slayed by the perpetual forces of good being embodied by the character of a mouse.

I know these magical moments will fuel my imagination in future times of stress and anxiety. Now I can imagine a great big beautiful tomorrow.

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