Though the Mountains Divide, It's a Small World After All
Act I, in Which I Set the Scene
There is just one moon and one golden sun,
and a smile means friendship to everyone.
Though the mountains divide,
and the oceans are wide,
it’s a small, small, world.
Her name was Jasmine. Yeah, I know. Pretty cliché, right? A Disney story starting with a girl named Jasmine-- haven’t heard that one before.
But my name is Thomas, and this is my story... it all started with a girl named Jasmine, and it all ended with Jasmine. It's funny how our lives can be so captivated by a single person, isn't it? It's almost like time and space slow down... and no one exists except for the two of you.
Growing up I lived in one of those little suburban neighborhoods where everyone knows everyone; the kind of place that Thomas Kinkade might have visited to get inspiration for his next painting. Well kept lawns, beautiful homes, trustworthy neighbors next door who would give you a popsicle on a hot summer's day... the whole nine yards.
Surrounding it all was a dense forest that could have come straight out of the scenes of a Disney movie. As a kid, you think places like that are magical-- a place of adventure by day and unknown horrors by night. If you grew up on the edge of a forest, you'll know what I'm talking about.
Act II, in Which Jasmine Captivates Me
When I first met Jasmine I was 18, sitting in those woods. There was a clearing back there about a half a mile down a dirt trail, a clearing that is now long gone (as is much of that forest), torn away to make room to fill the demand of more homes. Even though it no longer exists, I can still picture the place. I can smell the pine trees in the air and see the rays of light shooting through the branches like spotlights; still feel the butterflies that flew through my stomach on that autumn afternoon.
As I sat on a tree stump digesting the words of my History book, trying to cram for an upcoming test, I heard the leaves crunching-- signaling that someone was coming towards me. As I looked up, I saw her for the first time: blonde hair that blew in the breeze like strands of gold, blue eyes as deep as the ocean I had once seen on a vacation to Hawaii... and a smile that mesmerized me.
After a few moments of fumbling over words, we shared names and stories: she had recently moved into the neighborhood. She lived alone with her dad, who was involved doing something with the Army. They moved around a lot. I forget all the details. To be honest, I could have cared less about the details at that moment, because I was still coping with the beauty standing in front of me. And needless to say, I didn’t do too well on that History test.
The next several months were some of the best of my life. After school, I would run back to the clearing and Jasmine would often be there-- even in the middle of winter. We would talk and share stories about our lives; share our favorite bands and end up realizing that we loved whatever the other suggested. To this day, I still have some of the albums she burned for me, her tidy handwriting listing the band's name on the surface of the CD.
She understood me so well... and I understood her. And for the first time, I felt like I was truly alive. I had never laughed so much or been so happy in my life.
Act III, in Which My Heart Shatters
I'd truly never been happier...until one fateful day. On a cheery spring afternoon in 2001, only several months after meeting Jasmine, I paced the clearing-- checking my watch time and time again to the point of worry. We had planned to meet there at noon, and it was going on two. She had been late before, but nothing like this. Although I’d never been inside her house (her dad worked late and slept during the day), I knew where she lived. I ran down the street and up her driveway, and as I reached the garage I noticed a man loading some items onto a truck.
"What’s going on? Is Jasmine here?" I asked, thinking that this guy may have been her father.
"Nope, sorry kid. The girl and her dad left for San Diego this morning. Left everything here-- I’m just the guy they hired to pack it all up and move it into storage. I guess the Army does that from time to time" the man offered, giving no further explanation.
My world shattered. I had no forwarding address, no phone number, no email address. Keep in mind that this was before cell phones were popular and the internet was dial up only. I, in a word, was completely devastated. Why hadn't she come to say goodbye? Did she possibly have my address to send me a letter or anything? The hot tears poured down my face-- and I rarely ever cried.
All wounds heal over time, but love never dies. The tears eventually stopped, but the pain never really went away… sometimes it just numbed for a few days before returning with a vengence.
Act IV, in Which I Discover Disney Magic
Skip ahead 11 years to 2012: I’m now 28, living on my own in San Diego, California. I found work here, yeah… but in all honesty, the reason I moved here is because I’ve always hoped I’d run into Jasmine.
At the grocery store.
At the movie theatre.
Jogging in the park.
I’ve always been a huge Disney fan. And so as soon as it was announced, I decided that I would take the trip to Disneyland for the One More Disney Day event on leap day-- a day where they would keep the park open for 24 total hours without closing. My goal was to ride every ride in the park within the 24 hour period, and after a literal two hour wait for Haunted Mansion and another hour and a half hour wait for Pirates (and of course many more), I was It’s a Small World away from completing my goal. That’s never been my favorite ride, but I figured I could get on it and be off in time for the 7:45 showing of Magic, Memories, and You at the Small World Plaza, which is an amazing show.
So there I was, riding along, listening to the dolls sing out the famous song in all the languages... when suddenly ahead of me I see what no honest Disney fan would ever want to see-- the boats are jammed up in the distance and it looks like I’m going to be stuck (for who knows how long) on Small World; the dolls grinning those plastic grins and singing on and on and on.
If you’ve been stuck on Small World, you know that the best part is seeing how hard you can bump into the boat in front of you. It’s all downhill from there. I chuckled as the women in the boat in front of me let out a small shriek as my boat knocked into theirs. Laughing, I said “Sorry!” and continued wearing the cheesy smile as the two women turned around to laugh with me.
The dolls fell into the background.
The music faded.
One of the two women blurred from my vision.
On the boat in front of me was a girl with blonde hair that as she turned looked like strands of gold. Her eyes were like deep pools of the ocean, blue as the pristine water I’d once seen in Hawaii. And her smile was mesmerizing.
The ride couldn’t end soon enough. I’ve never been more speechless or cried more tears than I did on Small World that day.
As we finally embraced each other in the Small World Pavilion for the first time in 11 years, the 7:45 show of Magic, Memories, and You started. As the building began to transform and change colors and seemingly shape, I realized that my life was about to transform as well.
Dreams do come true.
It really is a small world after all.
And with “One More Disney Day,” I rediscovered the girl who will forever be my life.