How do I relate the importance of a place to someone else?
However you want.
But how do I begin? I mean, there’s a million ways to tell a story, how do i make it interesting to someone else? It’s all interesting to me.
Of course it is, it’s your story. Look, you’ve been thinking about how to sum up Florida since you knew for sure you were leaving and that was months ago.
I know. I wrote the title on a blank page months ago. The rest is still blank.
Well, your alarm is gonna go off in less than 8 hours. If you want to say something before leaving this place you better get started.
Right, that’s the problem. Shouldn’t I be figuring out how we’re gonna get all that crap in the car AND the 3 cats AND the iguana?
Forget about all of that. Once you actually leave this place your attempt to tell about it will change. Maybe better,
maybe worse, but it can’t be recaptured after you cross the state line.
Okay…okay. What’s the first thing you remember about Florida?
Family trips of course. The only time I was excited to get up early. If I slept. Mom, Dad, sisters, sometimes Grandma. All in the big red van, endless driving that would all be worth it. And I always got sick. My parents didn’t know about motion sickness medication then. Or maybe it didn’t exist. I don’t know. But it wasn’t a vacation until I vomited.
At least they were prepared.
yeah, it’s like my cat on car trips. I know he’s gonna pee on me getting into the car, puke soon after and eventually
Right, family trips. Always to DisneyWorld. I was always the awkward kid. Never had many friends. My sisters only played with me if they had nothing else to do. But at Disney they played with me. People, strangers, were nice to me. It was the only place outside of our house and my grandma’s house that I felt okay.
Yeah. As soon as we got back home I’d plan ways to save pennies so we could go again.
When did you first decided you wanted to work there?
Dunno. I remember walking with my father in the Magic Kingdom and we were talking about how he would retire and work there and I wanted us to work together.
So when did you finally work there?
When I was 21. They had what they called a college internship program but was just a way to get cheap labor. I didn’t
care. I got to achieve a childhood dream. Shit, I was writing about working there for years though.
Really. When I was in sixth grade I started writing a story about working there, terrible fiction, just a purely fantasy piece in order to escape from feeling outcast and depressed all the time. It eventually got to over 1,800 pages before I burned it.
Why’d you do that?
It was terrible. Seriously. Terrible. Especially now that I want nothing more than to be a fiction writer, imagining that it existed somewhere and might be read…I’m so glad I destroyed it.
Hahaha, the “lost masterpiece” eh?
But the internship.
Yeah, it was incredible. I mean, the job was crappy and they paid us next to nothing and treated us poorly, but I couldn’t have been happier. I met some amazing people, achieved a childhood fantasy and even fell in love.
Nice. So then why can’t you wait to get the hell outta here?
Honestly, the last ten years have been kinda shitty a lot of the time. I went back to finish my degree in politics but had long known I was extremely naive thinking I could be a politician and change things for the better. I mean, jesus, what other 16 year old named “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” as his favorite movie? Don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but at that point I thought I could do it. Anyway, where was I? yeah, I figured I had to finish but then didn’t know what the hell to do with myself so I went back to DisneyWorld. My parents ended up moving down to Florida too. My Dad and I went to casting together and they put us working at a hotel together and all I could think of was that time him and I talked about doing just that.
Another dream fulfilled.
Yup, seemed like a good start. Pretty much all downhill after that. After a couple months I met a girl there and what
should’ve ended after about 6 months or so went on for 3 1/2 years. I thought I could make it work. Again, still naive. I was miserable at Disney and left after about a year. Got another job for awhile and then had to get outta this state.
Moved back to Illinois with the girl I was dating. She missed it, I didn’t. We broke up two years after that. I
occasionally went to Florida for a month or two each year to stay with my parents and see friends down there. On one of those trips I told a girl who I’d been long interested about my feelings and she reciprocated. Soon after that went to hell and I swore I’d never return to this godforsaken place.
But you just couldn’t stay away.
Well, I mean, it’s not like I didn’t have a good reason. My father learned he had cancer. I was single, living in Chicago with no attachments outside of a handful of good friends. I broke my lease and moved back down.
When was that?
Almost exactly two years ago. He died in February. The house officially closed today and we’re getting the hell outta
here. Leaving in 7 1/2 hours.
You won’t miss it?
I’m sure I will. Eventually. Right now I need to leave. Even if it’s to move to a region of the country I don’t want
anything to do with.
You do what you gotta do.
I want to write.
I’m going to.
I can’t believe I’m almost 31.
I’ve wasted so much time.
I need to learn to give up fantasies earlier.
I guess I should get some sleep.
That’s up to you. Do you think you’ll actually sleep?
I don’t know. You remember that episode of Boy Meets World where they went to DisneyWorld? I remember staying up watching that episode over and over the night before we left for one of our Disney family trips. I had a huge crush on Topanga at the time.
You know they’re doing a sequel, right?
Yeah, but after she cut her hair it was all over for me.
Isn’t that always the way?