Monday, December 17, 2012

You've changed

Every few minutes I wake up and fall back asleep, with all the ambition to get back to writing this blog and actually go to sleep properly, but none of the stamina. I guess jet lag has officially settled in after my nearly 11 hour flight back to southern California from London. No surprise. It had to come some time considering the day I left I managed to stay up from around 8:30 am Greenwich Mean Time to 10 pm Pacific Standard Time. To paint a more calculable picture, that's about 21 and a half hours of being awake. And during that time I was by no means resting, but running around in all different directions.

To top it all off, I forced a little taste of California back on myself this morning. A trip to Disneyland is like a visit with an old friend who never changes no matter the length of time you are apart. You return to him or her (I refuse to give DLand a gender) expecting what is familiar and beautiful. You aren't often disappointed.

Things may get shuffled around however; today I learned that the hard way. Just to be clear though, by "hard" I mean "tangible" more than I mean "difficult."

Coming back during the holiday season was an event in itself. This is the time of year for things at Disneyland to be turned on their head. The park is decked for the halls with wreaths everywhere. The castle has a fresh layer of snow on it that remains there all through the holiday season. There are familiar tunes only heard in November and December playing over the speakers of Main Street, U.S.A.

Those were all changes I expected.

When I went into the Animation Academy at California Adventure, however, there was a change I didn't quite expect. What has become a tradition within my group of friends and between my dad and I is going into the Beast's Library and finding out which Disney character we're most like. You do so by answering quiz questions within digital "books." After a few, you are show a picture of the Disney character your answers most closely resemble.

Some time within the last few months they have revamped the quiz which, for me, was bittersweet as well as exciting. It's a new kind of feeling - coming to Disneyland and not meeting with exactly what you left behind.

But it's not a bad one. In fact, it's one that I embrace. Every new enhancement at the Disney Parks was at once a phenomenon I hadn't experienced. But eventually they become part of the routine and part of what I love about Disneyland. If I am patient that first new time, then that fate is inevitable.

New introductions were not limited to the Disney Parks, however.

This afternoon, once I'd spent several hours hopping and bopping around Disneyland already, I made my way (with my dad, who had accompanied me to the park for our mutual reunion with it) to my sister's house to be reunited with another love of my life: my niece.

Sydney - that's her name - is a year and 9 months old. That's 3/4 of her second year, actually, which has been a significant period in her life. When I left home a few months ago, I knew a baby who had just begun to talk and show signs of real aptitude and human interaction. I still felt like I only barely knew her. My insights into her mind were limited at that point.

But with only a brief reintroduction to this little girl (supplemented by a few interactions via FaceTime over the past few months), I feel like I know her infinitely better. She speaks her mind, she throws tantrums and knows what she wants, she expresses love more readily and more excitedly than I've ever seen her do before.

She's a little fireball. That is only made more appropriate by the color of her hair, which is most decidedly ginger now that it has grown in more than ever. I love her zest for life and the way she likes to talk in gibberish and repeat the words I say back to me. It's all exploration for her now.

She's a little rugrat. I imagine when she says nonsense that she's actually thinking real thoughts and trying to communicate them, in a way only other babies might understand. Like Tommy Pickles, she has enough agency to share her goals and ideas, but maybe only in a way that I can but half understand.

Tomorrow I'll be babysitting which will be a whole different adventure. The prospect is a bit nerve-wracking seeing as the last time I took care of this little girl she was still much more of a baby. But I look forward to getting to know her better. And still changing her diaper - proving therefore that she is still very much a baby.

Coming back to California has created a slew of new experiences for me. Not with unusual environments or one-off experiences, but by returning what is tried and true, known and loved, and getting to see how it's grown and expanded in just a few months.

Things constantly change and grow and that can be a bit frightening. But it can also be one of the most fascinating things about humanity and the passage of time. We never stay stagnant do we? Good for us.

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