A cold snap has hit the city and it’s hit me especially hard since I just got back from a week in Florida on Sunday night. The past day and a half have been an absolute blur of writing, working, yoga teaching, housecleaning, grocery shopping, and laundry. Dear lord, so much laundry. A week in Florida was the longest time I’ve gone without doing laundry, and there was an absolute mountain of it. Today I put the fuzzy flannel sheets on the bed, making for an even six giant loads in the past 36 hours.
But it was all worthwhile, this thudding back into reality. It was a great vacation which I’ll write about in more detail a little later. I don’t want to forget a thing.
I love travelling and I love coming home; I love meeting people and talking to people and people watching, and then I love coming home to my cozy little house filled with Christmas music and yummy, non-fried food. It’s really interesting, the people you see when you travel far from home. I mean, some people are more interesting than others, like the very drunk man who got escorted out of the Disney resort with no shoes nor shirt, only shorts that he had urinated in. I was outside reading, waiting for the Disney Magical Express to take me to the airport, when I noticed him being held upright between two Disney employees clad in white pants and brightly coloured shirts. It was 1:15 pm and you have to wonder, was he drinking at the Drop-Off Bar at the Big Blue Pool? How does one get that drunk at a Disney resort? Yes, there is a cacophony of children and tinny music, but is that any excuse to pee your pants? Sir, focus on making better choices.
On the other end of the spectrum was the emotional and heartfelt employee at the shop in the Orlando airport. My husband had given the person in front of us a penny (they still have pennies in the States!) so she could receive an even amount of change back, and the employee was so touched by his “generosity” that she discussed it with us for two solid minutes. I don’t mean to take away from his penny, but her gratitude exceeded what I thought was appropriate. Then, while I purchased breath mints and fruity Mentos, she chatted with me for several minutes about my accent (“Are you from Scotland or Ireland?” she asked, and seemed a bit disappointed when I said Canada.), my trip to Disney World, and her impending head cold. Meanwhile, the lineup behind me was increasing rapidly. The next person in line got similar treatment so I think that woman was in her element, working the cash register in the shop where she could meet and chat with people from all over the continent, and maybe even the world.
As a sidebar, I was purchasing breath mints and fruity Mentos as a last resort, as what I really wanted was gum for the flight. But – fun fact – there is no gum for sale in the entire Orlando International Airport. Gum cannot be acquired for love or money. The reason, as I found out from listening in to another conversation that the employee was having, is that there is carpet. Were people spitting their gum onto the carpet? I guess so. It must have been a large enough problem to do away with gum altogether.
All of which is to say that if you’re travelling in that area and you want gum, bring it from home. Just don’t bring any Kinder Surprises, if you know what I’m saying.
Speaking of contraband items, one of my very favourite things about Disney World and Universal Studios is that they really make sure no one is packing heat in the parks. I don’t know about you, but I find that incredibly relieving. Disney does a thorough bag check AND “random” checks with metal detectors. It’s not really random because both my husband and I received those checks on Wednesday night after we were running from the bus to the park entrance, so as to not miss our Fast Pass window. Our Fast Pass for Space Mountain expired at 6:50 and we got to the park at 6:35 so we were sprinting past the scooters and slow-moving foot traffic. Do not do this if you don’t want to seem like a suspect. I was happy to comply, of course. I’d happily go through a physical pat-down if it meant I could enjoy Big Thunder Mountain without worrying that there was a disgruntled/ angry/ unstable armed person around. Universal Studios does not do random checks – everyone goes through the metal detector, just like at the airport.
Another thing about Disney is that they issue “Magic Bands” to wear on your wrist, that can be synced with all your personal information, your phone, your passes, and even your credit card. It’s an incredibly efficient system, but at times it is a little startling. I was in line for Expedition Everest, when one of the signs that they change to keep things interesting flashed “Welcome Nicole!” It was both Big Brother-ish and kind of nice. I mean, it’s nice to be welcomed.
The elderly lady sitting next to me on the plane ride from Calgary was a little worried about not being welcomed in the Orlando airport. Her husband was behind her, a lesson for everyone to just pay the $10 so you can choose your seats, and she kept craning her neck around to shout conversation starters at him, which he did not seem to respond to. I don’t know if she was brand new to flying, or just super excited to get free refreshments, or both, but every time the cart came around she would order three different drinks, a hot one, a cold one, and water. When asked if she wanted cookies or pretzels she said both, every time, and then stashed them in her purse with an expression that showed her joy in scoring such treats at no cost. Throughout the flight she kept shouting to her husband “Three hours left!” and I would look at my watch and see that there was only two hours, but not think much of it.
The pilot announced that we were starting the descent into Orlando, and the lady went OFF. The flight was an hour early! Why was it so early! She checked her ticket and the time was WRONG on the ticket! The time of arrival was supposed to be 4:45 and here it was only 3:15! The airline messed up and now she was going to be waiting for AN HOUR at the airport because no one would be there to meet them! This went on for some time until her husband finally shouted back that it was 4:15 and she must have set her watch wrong when they landed in Calgary.
I later saw them at the luggage carousel, happily with people who I assumed they were staying with. It’s nice when things work out like that.
The Friday before we left, I came home from teacher training to find that the boys and my husband had brought up the tree and ornaments from the basement, so we could decorate before leaving for Florida. It was the best surprise ever, and now my house feels wonderfully Christmassy. We bought a new tree this year, after several years of my husband putting the tree up and saying “We need a new goddamn tree, this one is terrible.” We couldn’t decide on white lights or coloured, and so we found one that has a white light setting, a coloured light setting, and a setting that cycles between the two. I love it so much.
Oh, what’s that I’m holding? My teacher training certificate! It’s official now, and I’m as happy as can be. Plus, get a load of the tree! It’s gorgeous. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some laundry to fold. xo