|Happy Hour - Susan, Linda and Annie|
|Susan and Annie with their Publix subs|
Saturday morning we made do with breakfast in the room, some fruit and yogurt. I did some yoga and then we were loaded into Linda's car, took 192 to I-4 to our exit and followed the signs. We drove under welcome signs and followed others as they directed us through the maze and into the park further into the parking garages and deep into the bowels of this land of fantasy. We parked in the Cat of The Hat Parking lot.
|Entrance to the park|
|Entrance to Diagon Alley|
|Annie and the Hogwarr Express|
|Butterbeer and a moustache for Annie|
We walked what felt like forever, but we all laughed that the walk back that night would probably feel even longer. We moved along the people movers, ever herding into larger and larger crowds as the mass of humanity headed towards the magic, the wizard, the cartoons, the past, the future, to fantasy. A fantasy that is made of cement and wood and fiberglass and is painted colors that are bright and cheerful like in the Dr. Seuss world, or dark and gray covered with a heavy layer of snow in Harry Potter World to a jungle in Jurassic Park or the bright graphic buildings of Marvel comics. Amanda had told me to go directly to the butter beer cart, which I did. I bought one cold butter beer, which does not have any alcohol in it, and the four of us sipped at it, leaving creamy mustaches the color of butter on our upper lips. It was sweet and creamy and tasted like cream soda and butterscotch.
We kept moving further back into this world of fantasy and by 9:30 we were moving through the twists and turns, up and down stairs, around and around and around further into the center of Harry Potter's Amazing journey. Along the way we moved through areas filled with pitcher plants and they had screaming mandrakes caged along one wall screeching at us. Then into the castle itself with the moving and talking pictures on the soaring ceilings. The entire area, dark and made to look like stone and an old castle. Yes, we were in Hogwarts. We were surronded by muggles and possbily mudbloods and full wizards, it was hard to tell looking at the people surrounding us. Around each corner was another surprise, another piece of the story being told. It was perfect. It was absolutely perfect. Moments captuered like photos in a camera, my dear beloved friends, the most popular sold series in the history of books. A world we have lived in for more then a decade, a story that Annie grew up with, like I did with the Wizard of Oz.
Before we left the hotel, I had told the ladies that I was going to take an ativan because I did not want my anxiety to make me miss this most special day. Linda thought I was anxious about the rides. I did not realize that she thought that until we got onto the Harry Potter ride and they locked us in. The first jerk of movement occurred, and this sweet precious friend reaches out her hand and says, "here, hold my hand." I reached out, and even though with the seat I could not see her face, I could feel the hand holding mine, sharing her strength with me. I was fine, I loved the ride, and it was all the more special with someone who has been a part of my life for 30 years to be there sharing her self with me. Honestly, it is when the crowds are closing in around me that I need the hand, not as I zoom through space and time and magic and lights and dark and smoke and water safely locked in my seat. The ride was probably only 5 minutes or less, but it was so worth every second.
|Entrance to the Harry Potter Journey ride|
|Hogwart's castle rising up and above the park|
I then got down to some seious shopping I had some special people on my list that I needed to pick up for, and I took care of it right away so I would not forget anyone. We walked up and down through Diagon Alley. We found a little hidden place, really it is just overflow seating behind The Three Brooms. It was lovely and quiet and no one was ever there. You could sit out of the wind, in the warmish sun overlooking a water feature, over the roofs of the buidling depciting Diagon Alley up and there was the Hogwart's Castle rising up dark and mysterious over the rest of the park.
After spending the morning in Harry Potter World, we went to Mythos Restaurant in the Greek Mythology area for lunch. Then Linda, Susan and I decided to walk all the way around the entire park. When we got to Marvel Comics area, Linda and I road the Spiderman ride. That was so cool because it was 3D. Susan gets vertigo if she is dropped quickly or twisted or turned aprubtly, so we talked her into going on the Dr. Suess Cat In the Hat ride. I mean there were babies less then a year old taking the ride, with their parents and older siblings. It had been about 13 years since I was last on that ride. It had been several years since Linda had gone on it, and we honestly did not remember how jerky the ride is. We both think they tweeked it since we last rode on it because it jerked and spun around more then either of us remembered. I remembered it being a lot like A Small World at Disney, just an easy ride through the story of The Cat In the Hat. Susan did just fine, but we felt bad for luring her onto a ride that could have caused her discomfort. The kids drank lots of butter beer, wands were bought along with chocolate frogs and every flavor beans. It was perfect beyond words. We laughed, we supported each other to have the best experience for each person. We were there from around 9 until maybe about 7? I am not sure, but it was a long day and I was so tired. Happy but tired. The five of us jostled and bumped into each other and staggered the long walk back to the car. We loaded in and drove home. We had had a delicious lunch, and had snacked throughout the day, so dinner was leftovers. Linda's son Josh, needed more food then the measly girlie stuff we had in the frig like spinach salad or fruit and yogurt. So Linda and Susan walked down to the pizza parlor at the restaurant and brought back a large hot fresh pepperoni pizza. Then we played Apples to Apples. We laughed and the fact that we know each other so well only made the game that much funnier. Josh was a great sport about it all, being the only guy amongst four woman who are best friends. Four woman who talk and listen all at once from our hearts. We had not seen each other as a group in four years and yet to listen to us you would think it was a monthly get together. We know each other's heart and soul so well. And Josh, sweet, handsome and so precious just got along with us like he had been with us forever. Well, in a way he has. After all he and Annie are the same age and have grown up together the children of best friends.
We finally were all so tired the game was not making any sense any longer, so we called last hand and played out the cards we had in our hands. Linda won, beating me by one card. Everyone was a great sport, and I crawled into my double bed, just the perfect size, and mumbled to Linda how much fun I had, and how much I loved her and thanked her for being there with me today.
It was a perfect day. The friends were perfect, Universal was perfect, the food was perfect, the weather was perfect, it was a perfect day. A day filled with complete joy and moments so precious I will hold them in my heart forever. I never thought I would ever go to a theme park again. It has been like I said about 13 years ago since I have stepped foot into one of these parks in Orlando. The crowds of humanity pressed together to experience the world designed and built from the minds of people who see worlds so wondrous and magical.
We all woke up a little after 7 Sunday. We picked up our adequate breakfast from downstairs, packed our bags and pretended that we were not all getting ready to head our different directions, Linda and Josh drove Susan and Annie to the Airport to fly away north. I put the top down on the toy and looked up at the blue crystal bright sky and headed west by northwest. Linda and Josh would head south after dropping the ladies at the airport. I made Annie promise to come and visit me. That if she had trouble finding a job, to come to me and see if there were more jobs here. We al hugged each other and hung on. So sweet, so precious these dear beloved ones. And then as we left, there were no tears, but minds filled with love and memories of a journey to see the wizard. The most wonderful wizard of our time. A wizard who has replaced the wizard of Oz, as the wizard we dream of.
The ride home was glorious. Absolutely glorious. The sky blue, the beginning of soft fluffy clouds forming in the far north. The temperature cool, but lovely in the toy as I zoomed up black ribbon of the turnpike then the interstate and on to my little home here. Like the ride down, and the drive on Christmas it is perfect birding as you drive these long distances. At Christmas I saw robins, white pelicans, an eagle, hawks, finches, storks and herons. This trip was mostly filled with hawks, but the ponds along the way brimmed with herons and egrets.
The "kids" are adjusting to me disappearing for these short trips. They were happy to see me, but there was no fear that I was not coming back. They know I will come home to them. They know I will jump from my car and open the gate and wrap my arms around them. Hug them and love them. Bob had his ball in his mouth and I can tell that Judy had thrown the ball for him while I was gone. Judy and Denise took care of everything and made this trip possible.
There is so much from this perfect weekend that I have in my heart, but it will come out in moments of sweet memories to think of and savor and live all over again. All I can say is that my fear of theme parks is gone because of this most special weekend. And now I will try to get with my brothers, Rob and Tom and see if we can make arrangements for all of us to take a trip to see the wizard. The amazing and wonderful wizard, Harry Potter, and I can do this. Because of the memories from this weekend, I will by the end of the year have two special perfect weekends to remember. I can't wait to share this with them.
And when I got home, my dear one in Delaware checked in to see if I had enjoyed myself. I had, oh yes, I had. We only spoke for moments, a shared smile, a kiss across the Ethernet, but a perfect moment in a weekend already bursting forth with perfection. Then I talked to Dad, and he sounded good. I had not talked to him in a day, and I don't like missing a day with him. After all it is no different now a days to speak long distance as it is to talk to your neighbor next door. So why not call him everyday. He and Marie will go dancing tomorrow. I will start a new week, and I am excited about this new year. Two perfect weekends in a row. And the common denominator?
And maybe tomorrow I will go by to see Ms Moon and wrap my arms around here body warmed and relaxed from Cozumel. I will shop with Carolyn on Tuesday for yarn to learn how to weave this weekend. Then I will volunteer at the Opera House. And life will continue, and if my resolution was to live life to the fullest, well, I am already running down that road. I am also proud to say that out of eight days this year, I have done yoga five of those days. Yes, this is a year of great beginnings and I am feeling good.
Life is good.
Let me enjoy it to the fullest
let me wrap my arms around my dear precious beloved ones.
and let them hug me back
and our hearts will recognize each others heart
and that is all that matters.