Updated: May 22, 2020
During a difficult time in my life, not too long ago in fact, I discovered some habits to keep my anxiety at bay. I like to think we all have these little things that lift us up out of a dark place, or prevent us from getting there in the first place. Sometimes it’s harder than I care to admit to myself, especially at a time like this. When I find myself struggling, I try to pick up one of these activities- for me, they include going on a long walk, dancing around my apartment to loud music (sorry neighbors!), reading a good book, and daydreaming about future vacations… it all depends on the situation which method I use to comfort myself. Lately, I’ve been applying these methods more and more, I think for obvious reasons (hello, pandemic). Since I have no future vacations to look forward to, I’ve been revisiting past trips, which has been keeping my spirits high that I’ll be going somewhere soon, even if it’s just to the Jersey Shore for a long weekend. There’s something about nostalgia that always lifts my spirits, I know I can’t be the only one…
I’ve heard him described as the original emo millennial, that’s why my generation is so obsessed with the series. For me, I think it’s the transportation to a world we all wished existed, a magical one with wands and unicorns and dishes that wash themselves (um, hello, where do I get these?!). Of course, I’m talking about Harry Potter. This series has long been an escape for me and countless other people. The first book sucks you in with the idea that there are witches and wizards living among us and introduces the readers to a whole new universe. Then the most amazing thing happened, Universal Studios in Orlando announced they were actually building Hogsmeade, one of the key backdrops in every Harry Potter story.
My first time visiting was in October 2011, shortly after it had opened, and I was with a group of media students from my university. We were in Orlando for a conference and had been allowed some free time during our stay to visit the parks. I still remember the feeling of seeing the snow-capped roofs and winding pathway that led to Hogwarts, the main attraction/ride. I had been transported in to the pages of my favorite books, does it really get any better? Years later, March 2019 to be exact, I went back with a group of my best girlfriends from high school. Diagon Alley had been built and the Hogwarts Express was added to take passengers between the two areas. I even saw the Knight Bus and knocked the door at Number 12 Grimmauld Place (no one was home). This time I could afford to buy myself a wand and *several* souvenirs. Now when I read the books, I imagine walking through those streets just like the characters, wand in my pocket and my best friends at my side.
The same trip that took my friends and I to the Wizarding World was actually a Disney World vacation. We had been together back in 2009, after our last friend graduated from high school. This time it was a convenient excuse for a ten year reunion back in the place we loved so much. This time we could drink (and eat and shop) our way around Epcot, which of course we did. Earlier I mentioned nostalgia, is there anything more nostalgic than Disney? I’ve read a lot about why humans crave nostalgia in a time of crisis (in today’s case, a pandemic). It’s like a security blanket, a reminder of simpler times, happy memories, less responsibilities. I’ve always been a child at heart, but never more so than when I’m at Disney. I remember one of my girlfriends turning to me and commenting on the sense of amazement and wonder on my face as we walked up Main Street towards Cinderella’s Castle, even as a 29 year old. There’s a certain comfort that comes from seeing the characters walking the sidewalks, interacting with the guests. The themed rides that remind us of a time when we didn’t understand how difficult the world can be. My mom always tells a story about the Dumbo ride. When I was little, Dumbo was (and still is) one of my favorite Disney movies. Well, I knew Dumbo couldn’t fly without his feather, so I requested to take one on the ride with me. I’ll have to confirm with my mom, but I don’t believe I took a dirty bird feather with me, but it’s a heartwarming anecdote nonetheless. As of this writing, my girlfriends and I find ourselves torn between wanting to remain safe in the time of Covid-19, and planning a future getaway to the most magical place on Earth (most magical *real* place, anyway).