Chapter One: A Best Friend’s Gift
Disney had always been a part of Roselyn’s life. Ever since she was a child of six and her Grandparents had brought back a souvenir map of the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, she had been enamored with it. The Haunted Mansion, its hallowed form rising above the landscaping in the brochure, was a particular favorite. She wanted to go so badly and see it in person, and had made her Grandmother recant the rides in detail over and over again.
Life has a way of dissuading us from our dreams, however, and it was no different for Roselyn. Married for 24 years, her husband Joe had recently come home from work to announce he wanted a divorce now that their two children were grown and on their own path. Roselyn had been devastated at the time, and wallowed in her self pity for as long as her daughter and best friend Mitzi would allow. Slowly, she had regained strength and became determined to at least function through the days. The life altering moment came quietly as Mitzi entered Roselyn’s family room during a visit one Thursday evening.
“Here you go!” Mitzi said, throwing a small packet on the coffee table in front of Roselyn’s sofa. Roselyn leaned over and picked up the blue packet, examining the image of the castle on the front.
“What is this?” she asked.
“It is our getaway-from-it-all-ex-husbands-be-damned-friendship celebration trip of a lifetime!” Mitzi replied.
Mitzi had been a lifesaver, to be sure, and her very nature was most unpredictable, but this! This was as unexpected as finding the fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Roselyn took a look at the packet in her hands, and gently opened the envelope. It was a welcome packet to Walt Disney World, complete with airline agenda, resort accommodations, tickets, and even luggage tags.
“Mitzi, how did…..I mean… I can’t….”
“Oh yes you can- my treat! We are going and I do not want to hear one word about it. The kids will watch your house while we are gone and it is all paid for. All you need to do is pack your bags because we fly out tomorrow morning!” Seeing the shocked look on her friend’s face, Mitzi softened her tone and sat on the sofa. “Look sweetie, we’ve known each other a long time, and I have to tell you, life is going to pass you by if you don’t realize there is more to life than Joe. You have always said you wanted to go here, and now we can go together, so what do you say?”
Roselyn nodded and smiled for the first time in months. “I say….I have packing to do!”
We Have Arrived!
Roselyn and Mitzi stepped off of the bus that had picked them up at the airport. Mitzi had managed to converse with every single person they had run across, starting on the plane. Roselyn was still a bit in shock and apprehensive about coming to this place that had escalated to an almost mystical status in her mind through the years. She also wondered how Mitzi kept her voice from giving out. Three stewardesses, one co-pilot, seven airline passengers and the Magical Express driver would have agreed it was quite impressive. Mitzi was a wonderful person who wore her heart on her sleeve and wanted to share everything with everyone. She turned to Roselyn at the check in counter of the Carribean Beach Resort.
“Come on Rosie- let’s find our room!” Mitzi said, grabbing her by the arm as if she had had a large drink from the fountain of youth. Suddenly, both women felt like they were in their youth once more, exuberance washing over them and erasing the pricks and pains of their adult lives. They were at Walt Disney World, and Roselyn’s dream was coming true. It was strange that she felt as though she had been there before, but she shrugged off the feeling of persistent deja vu and continued down the perfectly manicured garden pathways feeling a sense of joy that she had not felt in months.
It was around 6 o’clock in the evening.
“What should we do first?” Mitzi asked, lounging on the fluffy double bed and flipping through a booklet.
“I am starving, Mitzi! Do you ever eat?”
“Sure I do, when I think of it,” Mitzi laughed. “Why don’t we go to Downtown Disney tonight and go to the parks tomorrow? World of Disney is there, and I sure could handle a healthy dose of shopping!”
“You are relentless, Mitzi! Sure. Shopping sounds fun, but only after we grab a bite to eat, ok?”
Mitzi nodded as she grabbed her purse and headed for the door.
Roselyn wondered what they would discover next. The room had been such a beautiful surprise. This was no ordinary hotel room. The little Caribbean touches and bright colors made one feel as if they were truly in the tropics. Roselyn barely had time to ponder this when the bus they were on came to a stop and they were at their destination.
The sun was setting and Downtown Disney was alive with shoppers and families going out to eat. The lights were beautiful, and there was live music coming from somewhere. The smell of popcorn, and coffees and other pleasant aromas drifted through the warm evening air. Looking around, Roselyn noticed all the smiles. Families together with children laughing together were everywhere. Older couples, and younger ones, strolled arm in arm, gazing at each other as if they were seeing one another for the first time. There was indeed something magical about this place.
They entered the World of Disney Store and were immediately amazed at all of the Disney themed merchandise before them! Larger than life figures of Disney characters hung from the ceiling in greeting, and the store displays were so creative and welcoming. Roselyn could not help herself! She shopped right next to Mitzi, who had both arms full of souvenirs just minutes after entering the place. It was then that Roselyn saw something that would change her forever, although she did not yet know it. It was a green colored room with several circular racks in it.
“Hey Mitzi- look at that! What is in there?”
“Let’s go see silly,” she replied.
They approached the room and Roselyn saw a wonder. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of what looked to be pieces of shiny metal hanging on the racks. She turned to the Cast Member nearest to the entryway.
“Excuse me, but what are these?” she asked.
“Why, these are Disney pins. You can collect and trade them all over the World. Is this your first time?” the Cast Member whose badge read “Helen” asked.
“Hang on, I will be right back, “Helen said as she walked across the room to the sales counter. Roselyn saw her open a drawer and do something before she turned and made her way back to the two friends.
“Here you go- welcome to pin trading!” Helen placed something small and shiny in Roselyn’s hand, then gave one to Mitzi (although it was difficult to find Mitzi’s hand under the Disney shirts she was carrying.)
“Thank you!” Roselyn replied, shocked at this person’s hospitality. She examined the beautiful shiny pin in her hand. It was Mickey Mouse, and it was both adorable and beautiful at the same time. Roselyn loved it.
“Wow- look at all of them, Rosie. Aren’t they lovely? They are like little works of art, right in the palm of your hand. This looks like fun. I have to have some of them to take home. What do you think?” Mitzi asked.
Roselyn was already combing over one of the racks, giddy with excitement from her new found treasures.