finding my laughing place…

My mother phoned today. She was pretty stressed out, taking it out on me a bit. Not that I was that surprised, that is usually her way. I’ve been expecting her call for a few days now, to query about Thanksgiving. In the meantime, I have been racking my brain attempting to find a way out of the festivities. It was my first year on my own, and I didn’t really look forward to spending a day surrounding a turkey.

Unfortunately, I had not come up with any good ideas and was left drowning on the line. “Are you going to be able to make it to Thanksgiving dinner, dear?”

Keep in mind. When my mother says ‘dear’ it’s not quite in the affectionate sense; it’s more in the sense that she’s trying to get away with something. Sort of an impatient asskissing.

“No, Mom, I’m sorry, I can’t.”

“Well, why not?”

My mind went blank. I don’t know why, but this was the first thing that popped into my head. “I’m going to Disneyland.”

Disneyland? My mother was not as surprised as I thought she would be. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. She didn’t even question it.

“Oh. Well, be safe, and we’ll definitely miss you. When you get back into town, give me a call. And how long has it been since you spoke to your father? You know it really wouldn’t hurt you to pick up a phone…”

“Yes, Mom.”

Since I moved out, I didn’t speak to her much because she was rather coarse and self-consumed. But there were times she softened up. Times I felt bad about not being closer with her, or trying to be. Times I remembered how we were when I was young, when we were closer; when she was the smartest, most beautiful woman in the world; my hero. Her hair had been dark and thick and wild (something I always envied) and her pale skin contrasted in a sublime way. She had the most marvelous laugh, the kind that erupted from her lips and would fill a room, the kind that men would follow blindly.

“I love you, Jo.”

“I love you too Mom. We’ll have dinner when I come back. I’ll cook. How’s that sound?”

“It sounds lovely.”

It’s easy to forget about your family when you don’t see them or hear their voices. There was age in my mother’s voice. Exhaustion. Perhaps it was just my imagination. Perhaps I just hoped that the occasional melancholy was good for my mother; kept her humble, helped her take a step out of her everyday business and remember me. I knew I was always somewhere in her mind, but it seemed I was somewhere in the back of it. Not that I saw that as distinctly depressing or inspiring. I just saw it as a fact, like any other.

I hung up the phone, silent tears cascading down my cheek. Perhaps I’m weaker than I thought I was. Or maybe just less heartless than I hoped to be. Which could be not as bad of a thing as I originally thought.

When I was done with my pre-menstrual moment, I sat down and thought about my alibi. Disneyland. I haven’t been there in two or three years, but I had often frequented the park during high school. I thought about the money I’ve made, stashed away in the past month or so. I could totally afford to go for a day or two. And for Thanksgiving? I knew holiday periods were busy there but going by myself rather with a group would probably be less frustrating and more interesting. Single rider lines. No holding places in lines for bathroom breaks. Every ride, show or meal my choosing—no compromises. I could wake up, or leave the park as late or as early as I wanted. I could go on Star Tours. Why did everybody hate Star Tours? And after years of it being gone, I could go on Submarine Voyage—the Finding Nemo version.

I thought of Johnny and our porch on Main Street, where we would sit and listen to the music, drinking our triple shot mochas, feeling like kids getting away with drinking coffee. I thought about the fireworks display that would take over Toon Town entirely and explode over the castle in a kaleidoscope of colors and songs. I thought about the bubbles that would emerge from the rooftops of Main Street, ‘snowing’ on the crowd and the faces and noises the children would make upon their discoveries of them.

Disneyland had melded moments for me that I would always hold dear, hold onto in my old age like rope that would blister and callous my hands till they bled.

The more I thought about it, the more appealing it became. I knew I couldn’t miss work Friday night but I was almost positive I could get out of my Wednesday shift. I half-thought about inviting Vincent but decided I was more in love with the idea of being there alone than being there period. I had never done that before. It would be an adventure.

Then I realized. It would be the first time I would be making that drive the whole way. It was slightly disheartening, but if I wanted my solo Disneyland Thanksgiving, it was the only way.

Drew’s call broke into my thoughts like a sudden awakening from a dream, the kind where you feel like you’re falling. I answered, a bit disoriented and still rather hurt about the birthday business, but still pleased to hear from him. He asked me how my day was going and what my plans were for Thanksgiving. It was humorous to say the words again, this time not lying, this time, proud of and excited about the truth. “I’m going to Disneyland.”

He laughed. “Really?”


“With who?” I grinned at the green monster, rearing its unexpectedly ugly head. It felt good to know that he was jealous, jealous of nobody even. I had spoken of Johnny in passing once or twice, and he knew that we had spent a lot of time there, so I’m sure he thought that was the case this time.


“You’re going by yourself?”

“Yes.” I didn’t even ask him what he was doing. I was busy planning my trip.

“I’m cooking this year. More into it all now, you know.” I don’t know if that was him trying to blame me for his newfound chef inspiration or if he was just explaining that he had never cared about the Thanksgiving traditions.

“Wow, that’s ambitious.” I smiled.

In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room, in the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room…

“Yeah. Well, I’m a master chef yo. I’ve got what they call, le skills. Maybe if you’re lucky you can sous for me again sometime. Or at least, help me put out any fires.”

His humor uplifted me. It was rather unique in that it was clever disguised as anything but. I guess I missed him. If I wasn’t so excited about going to Disneyland, I might be more responsive to his holiday hinting. I decided to get off the phone before I changed my mind about it all, and he asked me out for Sunday evening before we hung up.

He had left me out of his birthday but Sunday night would suffice. He was adamant about it being early, which admittedly made me quite curious but I didn’t bother questioning him. I knew he would tell me we were going somewhere like McDonalds or Jack in the Box just to make me crazy. He makes me crazy anyway. Maybe just crazy enough.

…all the birds sing the words and the flowers croon, in the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room!


2 Responses to “finding my laughing place…”

  1. November 28, 2007 at 11:39 am

    I’m waiting to hear about Disneyland.

    Not helpful commenting from me, I know. Perhaps knowing you’re going through things everyone does could help?

    Maybe a hug?

    Maybe a pint of ice cream on a particularly taxing day?

    So did you go to Disneyland? 😀

  2. 2 B-Town
    May 7, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    I have to say that I don’t think Jolie is the Disneyland type?

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