I love Disneyland. Many of my fondest childhood memories were created there, and each time I return it is a reunion of old sentiments and new excitements. Eating Dole Whip near the Tiki Room reminds me of my grandpa, and his stories of life in California as a kid; riding the Monorail reminds me of my sister and her NOT wanting the family to be separated on New Years 2000; Soaring Over California reminds me of my mom (and it reminds her of her dad); the Haunted Mansion my brother, he was the only one who would want to go in with me, and would always hold my hand if I got scared, and Autopia my dad, where he taught me how to drive with endless patience and encouragement as I ran into the middle section and other cars more often than not. These memories stand out to me, as well as many more with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, siblings and friends. It’s these that greet me upon each entrance, as well as excitement like a child for the new adventures ahead. Albeit full of crying children, long lines, drained parents, child leashes, trying to figure out if they really DO set cats free at night to catch all the mice, etc., it still is and will remain, the happiest place on Earth.
While the Teacups at night are my favorite ride (the at-night part is very important because sparkly lights and short lines), Space Mountain a close second, and California Screaming races up to bronze third. It’s a Small World was never a ride that I really got behind. The best word I could use for it was “tolerated”, and tolerated I did in order to appease my mom, grandma, and grandpa, who all insisted we go, every single time, at least once every single day we were there.
I remember watching my mom’s eyes as she would point out the different dolls, explaining where they came from, and what language they were speaking. (There was no need to explain what they were SAYING in those languages) ((It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small, small world)). Every time, without fail, she would light up when we arrived by boat in the Asia section, and she would always point our her little Filipino doll, dressed in white, dancing. This made me happy, but never as happy as my mom, grandma or grandpa. I simply can’t imagine the thousands of memories that are perched there along side that doll, but I am beginning to understand their deep desire to ride that ride (daily), as there was gold hiding within.
Before I left home, the world felt very big. Hungary felt like it was forever away. Once I arrived here, home felt even farther than Hungary had before I left. It wasn’t until I started forming memories both within the city and within my community, meeting people from near and far (even one person from CENTRAL OREGON) and just letting myself be here and only here, that Hungary soon began to feel more familiar. “Home” started to feel like it could maybe exist in more places than one (or two, looking @ you, Slum Home).
In a world that is increasingly obsessed with borders, and keeping people out, I find that community is more important than ever. I am learning that shared meals, saying good morning to neighbors, laughing with new friends, petting dogs on the street, making mistakes, and trying new things make the world smaller for me every day. This is not a restrictive, claustrophobic kind of small, rather a refreshing discovery of the similarity of human beings, God’s children, my brothers and sisters. This is not a small where everything is boring, rather this smallness makes everything more exciting, and the world more approachable (my “oyster”, you could say).
This morning, I overheard a conversation where two of my fellow staff members were discussing how a person, knew a person who knew her dad. “It’s a small world” they both said. There’s a statistic in my head that I don’t know where I heard that has always stuck with me (very scientific and official, I know)… I was told that within six connections (friends of friends, relatives, someone who knows someone) you can connect with any person in the world. While I am not sure how realistic this is, it is something that inspires me to connect with people intentionally, especially while I am abroad.
My time here feels like it is going by far too quickly, especially this morning when a student asked when I would be leaving. “Next month” I answered, then had to do a double take in my own mind (NEXT MONTH??!! I thought… when dd that happen??!!). I am still loving every day here as my worlds grow closer.
(Also I get to go to Disneyland this summer and I’m excited to give It’s A Small World more of a chance.)
It’s a Small World,