Exactly three miles north of Disneyland is my house. It’s on a cul-de-sac, and it’s the street that I grew up on.
I like to think of my casa as the everything house. It’s the house that I came home to after my first day of preschool, my first day of kindergarten and it’s the house I was nervous to leave as I readied myself to head off to first grade. It’s the house that my brother and I stood in front of each Halloween as we posed in our costumes for the obligatory annual photo, it’s the first date house, the first heartbreak house, the learning to drive house and the prom house. It’s the house that I would wish I was home enjoying when I was away at college in Michigan, the house whose backyard I’d come home to each weekend for laying out instead of walking a block to the sand when I lived in Redondo Beach and it’s the house that I now reside in with my cat (natch).
Each night around 8:40, the Disneyland fireworks begin. If I watch them from my driveway, it feels like you can reach out and touch them. The explosion reaches me and resonates in my chest shortly after a million specks of light flood the sky, and some nights it’s as though I’m back in high school working my summer shifts as a merchandise hostess in Frontierland, Adventureland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country. I remember staring up at the sky like the rest of the park guests; the magic overhead seemed like something you could watch a thousand times over without it ever getting old.
Other times, seeing the fireworks reminds me of college. My first semester away was the hardest and I remember — when I found out he was going to visit the park — asking my brother to buy me a CD of the Fantasmic music. I don’t consider myself the biggest Disney fan, but having grown up a stone’s throw from The Happiest Place on Earth and having spent two great summers working there, the park holds a special place in my heart. Sure enough, he bought the CD, and after it arrived, I tore off the packaging and wasted no time listening to the songs. It was as though I’d never left home, never stopped working at the park, and I’d play the show over and over in my mind while chilling in my East Shaw Hall dorm room with a white wonderland of snow outside.
These days, I sometimes watch the fireworks while I sit at the computer in my front room. The colors twinkle through the leaves on the tree just outside the window, seeming more like fireflies than fireworks if it wasn’t for the booming that punctuates the otherwise still night. Sometimes I’ll be at the piano, and that first explosion is just the signal I need to stop what I’m doing and peer out through the plantation shutters at my own personal fireworks display. It’s something I probably take for granted most of the time, but tonight I was reminded of those infrequent nights when I’m aware of their absence and how my heart feels a little less full, and the night sky feels a bit darker than usual.
Tonight I am thankful for those extra sparkly and beautifully bright spots in my life that I don’t always take the time to acknowledge, but which would leave an unspeakable void if they were gone forever.