This is part one in my year in review content.
Five hundred twenty-five six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in a life?
A friend recently reminded me of these lyrics and as 2018 comes to a close, I find this on my mind. 2018 was a great year, but how do I describe it in the context of my life? How do I measure all of the experiences from this year?
To preface, I ended 2017 feeling lost and confused. I felt like I had lost my sense of self, like for the first time in my life, I had no idea where I was going. All I knew was that I wanted to change directions: I wanted to find myself, to rebuild, to be better. Looking back month by month at 2018, I am sure that that lost and confused girl would smile at what a year did.
Here’s part one of my year in review:
January: The year started off in the place that would be the most influential spot of the year, Magic Kingdom. On this last family trip before my College Program began, I knew that Disney World would give me an adventure, but I had no idea how much this program would change my life. The month progressed with me having a bit of dead time that I spent enjoying home and New York. During this time, I volunteered with my high school’s speech and debate team and saw some wonderful old friends. These days were some of the most important of the year. They reconnected me to my younger self, one that had passion and drive. They connected me to a version of myself that had no doubt I would change the world for the better. The month concluded with the beginning of an adventure: I moved to Orlando, Florida and into my apartment at Vista Way on January 29. These last days of January are some of my favorites: they brought me three of my greatest friends, Kelsey, Beth Anne, and Destiny. These girls, my roommates, have become my rocks and I treasure our friendships.
February: February began with some roommate bonding and exploring of our new neighborhood. Beth Anne mapped out for us a day to go hotel hopping around the Disney resorts and the day ended with us eating dole whips by the pool at the Polynesian– in my opinion, that is how all good days should end. Two days later, my Disney adventure truly began, as Destiny and I went through our Traditions (Disney orientation) together and got our park admission (aka the key to the kingdom, quite literally). I spent my first days off exploring the parks alone and my first days of work going through training, following by spontaneous roommate trips to the parks at night. I look back so fondly at these first days: the magic was so alive and vivid. February also brought me one of my favorite people in the entire world, Julie. Julie and I worked together and after our last day of training, Julie asked me to go to Magic Kingdom with her that night. That one question formed a most wonderful friendship. For the rest of the month, Julie and I were practically inseparable and spent all of our days off exploring parks together.
March: March brought my first family visit and I was so happy to see them and show them around my new home. The rest of the month can be summarized by the arrival of new friendships. I grew closer with my coworkers and I felt the magic in Disney changed. No longer was the magic from the place, but rather the people I got to spend every day with. I could not get enough of these people: we worked together for forty hours a week and I still wanted to spend every moment off with them. These park adventures we went on together were some of the most random, unplanned, yet magical days I had my entire program. I cannot say enough times how much I love my coworkers and friends I made at Disney: they are my Ohana.
April: March ended and April opened with festivities: Destiny turned 20! We celebrated in appropriate Disney fashion: with a character breakfast. The month continued with hang-outs with my amazing coworkers and one of my favorite days of my entire program: a day spent at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival with Beth Anne and a good friend of mine from work, Sadia. I mention this day specifically because it was so wonderful: the three of us spent hours together, laughing, joking, and eating at every country in the world showcase. It was the definition of pure bliss. This day was shortly followed by a very special family visit– they were here to celebrate my dad’s birthday and my sister even came along: we had so much fun celebrating together. The latter parts of the month were spent trying to take advantage of the parks as much as possible and spend time with friends, as my departure date of May 17 started to creep closer. It was in this time that I found Disney and Orlando had become a home to me.
May: May was a month of many tears and goodbyes. As my departure day approached and many friends departed before me, I found myself realizing how much this program had meant to me. It gave me people who truly loved me and appreciated me. It gave me people who had magic within them and they gave some of that magic to me. Together, we were able to make the world a little bit happier. I tearfully walked through Magic Kingdom in those last days, staying on Main Street with friends until we could stay no longer, passing by every cart I had worked at with a wistful look in my eye, and watching Happily Ever After, the fireworks show that had lit up my workdays. I cried as I turned in my key and took one last look at Vista Way, the place that had been my home since January. I knew as I drove away that this place had changed me. I would miss it and the people dearly.