The castle at the Magic Kingdom

Things I’ve done in the past ten days: visited the Magic Kingdom, wrote with my friend J, hung out with my friend L which included going out for Mexican food with Sophie, listened to Christmas music at my dad’s, ate shaved ice at a downtown Sanford food truck event, went to the local writer’s group (excellent, again!), had a delicious gingerbread latte from G, tried a couple new grocery stores (still searching for the right one), and played a lot of ball in the backyard with Miss Sunshine. Like, a lot.

Things I have not done: written anything worthwhile.

I bought a book from Amazon recently, called, “Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times”  (<-affiliate link), and I have barely started it, but I think I might be wintering. Conversely, I might just be dealing with some seasonal and situational depression. Or perhaps it’s a little of both.

Things I am doing: eating my vegetables, pushing myself to take walks, working on setting myself up for sleep success. The last is still the hardest, made newly more challenging by sharing a house with other people who live on different schedules. The beep of the microwave at midnight is almost the only way I know that one of my housemates is still living here — he and I are on completely different schedules. I assume he can hear the sounds of me making coffee at 5:30AM, and wishes he couldn’t. So it goes. I do try to be quiet, and I think he does, too, but it’s a small house.

More things I am doing: pushing myself to get out, pushing myself to reach out to people, contemplating possibilities for my future. And really trying hard not to worry or ruminate. I had a slight setback on the ruminating when Suzanne sent a package to my brother’s house; he forwarded it on to me and it turned out to be a plastic bag containing old earrings of mine that I’d given her when I decided I was not going to wear earrings anymore. And a rock. Um… ??? Yeah. I have no idea. I’m trying not to ruminate about it anymore, helped by my housemate saying, “Well, that’s weird!” when I told him. Right! I thought so, too! I guess I needed the validation, ha.

The Magic Kingdom was fun. And also hard. I spent so much time there with R when he was little. Adult R probably doesn’t even remember most of our time there — he would have been too young — but we used to go straight to the Dole whip place and have pineapple ice cream for breakfast, then up the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, which he loved. Eventually, we’d make our way to Tom Sawyer Island. He didn’t like rides much until he was six or so — or maybe five, just turning six? I went to a conference in Orlando in October 2001, and afterwards spent a couple days with R at the parks. We camped at the campground in my parents’ RV, and rode around on a golf cart, visiting all the different playgrounds and swimming pools. That year Disney was empty (9/11 had happened about six weeks earlier and people still weren’t flying) and we had a day in the Magic Kingdom where we went on ALL the rides. On Goofy’s Barnstormer, the little kid roller coaster, we went three times in a row. After our second time around, the person running the ride just let us stay in our seats and ride again. I would guess that R doesn’t remember that at all. I do, though.

By happenstance, though, my day at the Magic Kingdom coincided with the visits of two sets of… well, people in t-shirts. The folks in the red t-shirts were there with the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Fallen Warriors project. In other words, they’d lost a loved one in the military. The folks in the green t-shirts were with Make-a-Wish. There were a lot of red shirts, not so many green, but plenty of both, potent reminders that loss is part of life, and that we’re all allowed to be happy and have fun despite our losses.

Still, Florida in general is far more filled with reminders of R than California was, unsurprisingly, and so I’m experiencing those feelings of loss again. Which isn’t to imply that I’m not always experiencing them in some way, but they’re more intense here. It’s the holidays, too, of course. Grief is always more pronounced this time of year, no matter how much you think you’ve recovered. The last couple of years, S & I did a solstice ceremony of lighting a flame and burning origami cranes and snakes, representing the things we were hoping for and letting go of, which I guess will be a reminder of loss now, too, if I try to continue it on my own. I might anyway, though.

Moving on!

The holiday event at my dad’s included live music, tons of people in colorful sweaters, Christmas cookies and candy canes, a nativity scene with live goats and a cranky baby, an angel moving in slow-motion, Victorian carolers… but also a Grinch, I guess for the people who weren’t quite in the holiday spirit. I am doing my best to get in the holiday spirit, helped by lots of plans for upcoming fun events, a real Christmas tree for the first time in eight years, a Harry Potter advent calendar that my housemate is sharing with me, and presents needing to be wrapped. And I’m not going to be a Grinch. I’m going to be grateful for all that is good, eat my vegetables, take good walks, and get plenty of sleep.