The flamingos, Mickey Mouse, and even those sun showers that often fall amid the humid, hot air are all part of what draw me to central Florida. I fell in love with the place as a kid, when my parents would take us to the Sunshine State for a little bit of summer magic in the middle of January every year. Sometimes, we would be bundled up in sweatshirts, but it was still warmer than back home in Jersey. And there was no sign of snow, except for the fake kind that Disney creates around the holiday season, when we’d sometimes visit.
While I’m thrilled to be back in the Garden State – despite the real snow on the ground – after nine months in my husband’s native Italy, I’m a little sad that our sojourn in Florida between Italy and New Jersey is over. We’ve only been home two days, and I’m already nostalgic. I usually feel refreshed after a stop in the sun. But this time it happened so fast, and I was so jet lag, and there was so much work to do – even while I was visiting EPCOT and Baby Boy was hopping on stage at the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at Disney’s Polynesian Resort – that it felt as though we were never even on vacation. The cooler-than-usual temperatures that turned to 90-degree summer madness on the last day we were in the state didn’t help, neither did Baby Boy’s bout of the flu (despite the flu shot he had gotten two weeks earlier).
Still, there’s something about Florida that gets me to dream, to think about possibilities beyond my everyday. Maybe it’s the inspiration of Walt Disney, the greatest dreamer of us all. “If you dream it, you can do it,” Disney once said. Or perhaps it is the lovely view of the sun as it both rises and sets amid those clear blue skies and puffy white clouds and creates that pinkness you only see in Florida. Or it could be the smile that my son wears as he pretends to be a pirate, races down a slide, or hugs his favorite cartoon character, Jake. Whatever it is, after being in Florida – even when it’s hard to savor the vacation – I feel like the future has potential and that I can accomplish just about anything I’d like. I must confess I’m addicted to the feeling, which might be why I enjoy planning these getaways almost as much as I enjoy the trips themselves. It’s like I’m getting a fix from home. I guess there is something to that old ditty that you often hear at Disney, “When you wish upon a star…”