The Happiest Escape From Reality

In Journeys
Replace your troubles with your happy ending.

Close your mind’s eye. Stop thinking about the tests you have coming up, the illness you’re suffering from, and the conflicts you are facing. As hard as this may seem, do it. Do it, because worrying about what you can’t control will only hurt you more. Instead, imagine this…

Many girls love a happy ending, but sooner or later, they end up waking up from their fantasy. What would you say if there was no waking up, only the happy ending?

Where, you say? Disney World. Now think of your favorite Disney character and imagine you will soon be in Disney. You are dying to see this beloved character of yours; you can’t remember the last time you wished for something so heartily. (In fact maybe, if you’re anything like me, you will go so far as to say this Disney character is not just your favorite – this character is your fictional role model.) For a smooth flow of your imagination, let’s just call your favorite character “Mulan.”

You’ve been in the fantasy…I mean amusement park of your dreams. All afternoon, you’ve been having a blast laughing with your family. Now, you and your family are just getting off the ride, Soarin’. You’ve come back from California. You’ve smelled the oranges and waved your feet high above the water. Now, you are slowly making your way down the runway. The Golden Gate Bridge, water, green summer grass, and the realness of it all have your mind spinning. Then, you suddenly realize oh no! Just thirty short minutes left until Mulan leaves for the day.

You must see Mulan. Begging your family to walk a little faster so you won’t miss your chance, you briskly move forward yourself. Your family’s a little worn out, and you realize this, but as long as they are able to walk ahead, you’re continuing your journey at a good pace. As you lead your family through the park, you think about how you’ve never had the chance to see Mulan. She was checking on Mushu, her dragon, when you were here ten years ago.

With only the amount of stress you’re dealing with weighing down in the back of your mind, you tell yourself you deserve to be happy. Seeing Mulan is just what you need.

With so many thoughts traveling through your brain, you begin to run and weave through the diminishing swarm of people as fast as the crowd allows. Your heart is beating out of your chest just like a little kid’s. With every glance at the time on your blinking phone, you feel your feet push off the ground a little harder than the second before. Every few feet, heads turn your way, but you take no notice of them–only the increasing number of people becoming smaller and smaller as you carry on.

Suddenly, you’ve traveled ten years back, and you hear your little sister behind you, desperately asking you to “Slow down!” Hearing her sweet young voice, you stop until she’s beside you. The Magic Kingdom suddenly drifts into sight. Together, you and your sister see the beauty and magic of the castle. The tall, pointed cones seem to shimmer in the sunlight, almost heavenly against the pale sky. It’s unlike anything you and your sister have seen before. How majestic, you think. Smiling, you watch your little sister run into the distance.

Looking upwards, you watch the sun slowly escaping from the immense sky. Shifting your gaze forward, you think, yes, I’m getting closer! You just passed America. A few more countries and you’ll be there…but…will Mulan still be?! Despite feeling some anxiety, hope surges through your mind. Your feet move a little slower as you approach Germany, and your heart skips a few beats trying to regulate itself.

You think, is there any chance left? Well…I’ll keep going.  “Hi. Do you possibly know where I could find Mulan?” you ask a park employee.

“Yes!” is the only word you hear over your labored breathing. Your heart rate increases not from exhaustion, but from excitement. Nobody could have stopped your lips from curling up at the ends if they tried. Jogging, you push past the soft-spoken employee and arrive at the back of the enchanting Mulan.

You think, Mulan is still here. Now, I just have to make it to the other end of this never-ending line. Hopefully, I don’t arrive there just to be denied access. I ran all the way here. If that doesn’t indicate my desire to see Mulan, I’m not sure what does.

Only a few more minutes until it’s your turn! Congratulations; you’re so close! Now, you just have to make sure your camera is ready. Once Mulan is finally just a few small steps in front of you, you remember you need to ask the lady behind you to take the picture for you. You want, and need, to document this special experience! After giving the lady a few quick instructions, you swing your arm behind Mulan and beam widely beside her before seeing the camera flash. Unlinking your arm from hers, you turn towards Mulan.

“Hi! I’ve been waiting the entire day to see you! I can’t believe it! You’re really standing in front of me. You have no idea how much respect I have for you. You’re loyal, honest, and just have a beautiful soul. If I could be half of the person you are, I would be happy.”

With a hand to her heart, Mulan replies, “Thank you so much! That means so much to me. I was just fulfilling my duties; it was a great honor.”

“How are your parents, Li Shang, and Little Brother? Li Shang better be treating you well, and Little Brother is just the cutest!”

Laughing, Mulan replies, “My parents are doing great, and don’t worry. Li Shang is a keeper. It’s so nice to spend time with both my parents and my husband. Little Brother is doing just fine, too!”

“Great! Thanks for taking a picture with me, Mulan! You’ve made this the greatest day ever!” you say before leaving with a wave and a few backward glances.

You beam all the way back to the family you mistakenly left behind. Walking, you stop to smell the yellow, vertical flowers lining the smooth concrete beneath your feet. A few steps past the flowers, you stop again to breathe in the fresh air around you and observe the surrounding crowd. Some babies lie sleeping gently against their mothers’ chests, while some toddlers attempt to drag their parents behind them. Some families enjoy dinner together, and you watch a couple stare lovingly at one another.

Everyone looks happy, and you think this is just the place I want to be.

Briskly making your way towards your waiting family, and quietly chuckling to yourself, you admire and appreciate the Mickey topiaries, giant ceramic Twinings tea cup, and Eiffel Tower in the distance. You are sure your family is waiting to see the big picture of the night, and they deserve to see it after the way you quickly lost them in the sea of people. Immersed in a family group hug, your father looks at you and asks, “So?! Let’s see it! I’m so glad you got to see Mulan before she left. It’s amazing. I had never seen an adult quite as excited as you until tonight! I’d say I wasn’t sure you were going to make it, but I can’t. You would have thought you were trying to have a major comeback in a race when you took off.”

With a quiet sigh of contentment, you hold up your phone for all to see. Looking at the screen yourself, you see that your dream has come true. You have to blink a few times just to make sure you’re not imagining it. After a few final glimpses at the famous picture of the day, you and your family leave the vicinity in which eleven countries stand in one small circle.

Just like that, this has become the park of your dreams. In only one day.

Mulan and Lily

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