After hopping out of the Greyhound bus into the dusty sunshine, Mary and I had about five hours to kill in Anaheim the day of the Fresh Beat Band concert. We had been emailing back and forth with a last-minute couchsurfing host, Catherine, and she suggested a place that no one could resist: Disneyland!
I’ve had the good fortune to visit Disney World twice, but Mary had never so much gotten near the happiest place(s) on earth. We walked along the perimeter of the park, looking at the wooden backs of roller coasters peeking through the palm trees. “If I had a ton of money,” I told Mary, “we’d go there right now.”
Fortunately, there was an alternative, which Catherine had mentioned to me: a cute shopping district known as Downtown Disney. Mary and I wound through pretty sidewalks and picturesque flowers before emerging onto the neat brick streets, where the storefronts rose up with a fairy-tale realism only Disney can create. We took lots of enthusiastic pictures and I told her that this was really Disneyland, they had just shut down the rides for the day. Being the generous sister that I am, I spent an entire two cents to allow us each to throw a penny in a wishing well. Mary looked around the stores for a while. And then, clearly, it was time for ice cream.
Yes, we can get Häagen-Dazs back home, but I swear it tasted better when Mary and I shared three small scoops while cuddled up on the edge of a large planter with the sun bearing down on us and pink mannequins in the Wet Seal shop window staring at us and Lifehouse’s Falling Even More in Love with You washing out from speakers in the background. It was a beautiful day.
|Yes, I get very excited about ice cream.|
After the concert, Mary and I once again had time to kill, this time while waiting for our couchsurfing host to contact us. We sat in Denny’s and ate spinach chicken salad. We sat in McDonald’s and ate McFlurries that Mary bought. Then, eager to stretch our legs, we hoisted our backpacks, walked out into the damp cool night, and began walking in the general direction of our host’s house.
Five minutes later, we were practically racing between the half-lit palm trees, bellowing out Disney songs in two-part harmony. I want to be where the people are! I want to see, want to see them dancing! Strolling along down that… what’s the word again?
“Street!” I yelled in response. My phone rang. It was Catherine, our host. She was willing to pick us up. Suddenly, I felt as exhausted as someone who had woken up early, caught a Greyhound, run all over Anaheim, and attended a concert should be.
Catherine lived with her sister and parents, who all welcomed us warmly to their suburban home. Catherine had mentioned that they were Coptic Christians, so I wasn’t surprised to see the crucifixes on the walls and observe the family’s beautiful dark-haired, dark-skinned features. They had made chocolate cake with caramel bourbon sauce for the father’s birthday, and we all sang for him and shared in the celebration. He told us about the Mediterranean restaurant he owns and laughed hysterically when I said that I had always thought falafel was a kind of pasta. We learned that he and his wife had come to America to escape religious persecution in Egypt. Mary gave Catherine a back rub as we all chatted. I was exhausted, but I didn’t want to go to bed. There was peace in this house, a peace that could be felt.
I slept well that night.