Every two weeks, the blogosphere comes alive with something called a Blog Off. A Blog Off is an event where bloggers of every stripe weigh in on the same topic on the same day. The topic for this round of the Blog Off is "What one thing did you really want when you were a kid?"
When I was a wee lad, my most prized possession was an LP and an accompanying story book of Disney's Dumbo. I played that LP to the point of wearing it out on a portable RCA record player. I would listen to the story (it was essentially the soundtrack to Disney's 1941 movie) and read along in my story book and be transported.
Here's a copy of my old LP I found on eBay.
What got me more than anything was the introduction to the Disney story book. One of the first illustrations in it was this map of Florida.
It looked so exotic and peaceful. Palm trees were something my Pennsylvania young self could only see in books and I longed to live in a place where they grew. Even as a kid I loathed winter and I ached to live in a place where it didn't exist.
The house I grew up in was not a TV kind of place. In fact, we didn't get our first color set until I was heading into high school. I was a very loved and very valued member of a large family. We had a big house and a big yard, something my brothers and I were charged with maintaining. Between all of the stuff we did outside, homework and the tomfoolery inherent when there are six boys under one roof, watching TV never really figured into our lives very much.
However, everything else we were doing stopped on Sunday nights at seven o'clock. A lot of people reading this will be too young to remember what Sundays at seven on NBC meant. But to those of us of a certain age, Sunday nights meant this:
(The actual intro starts at :20) That's right, The Wonderful World of Disney. In a time before DVDs and DVRs, most of us saw the classic Disney films on The Wonderful World of Disney. They never failed to enthrall me, even though I saw them on a black and white TV.
I found the intro to Dumbo. Watch it before Disney yanks it off of YouTube.
At one point in those years somewhere in the 1960s and 1970s Old Walt himself introduced the world to his vision of Disney World on a Sunday night during a telecast of The Wonderful World of Disney, something he was planning to build in where else but Florida.
I somehow knew better than to want to go to Disney World when I was a kid. We took our vacations in rural Canada, something I loved as much as I loved life itself and to miss that was unthinkable. Even at six or seven or eight, I knew that the Florida thing was going to have to wait.
However the die was cast some time around 40 years ago. Even then, I knew that some day I would call Florida home. As exasperating as life and times can be in this banana republic sometimes, every time I walk out the front door I see palm trees that I grow myself. It doesn't matter what our ridiculous governor is doing, I sink my feet in the sand and watch the sun setting over the Gulf of Mexico any time I think to walk on the beach at the end of the day. So what that our grandstanding legislature practically insists the world is flat, I have palms and parrots and geckos and 75 degree January afternoons.
Every time I hear the wild parrots squawking or hear the thump of a ripe coconut falling I remember back to a time when all of this was unthinkably exotic. I remember back to a childhood lived out in the rolling farmlands of Pennsylvania and I just smile to myself because when it's all said and done, I got what I wanted.
So to speak to this week's Blog Off topic, what I wanted more than anything when I was a kid was to lead the life I lead today as a middle-aged man. I toy with leaving this part of the world all the time. Some small part of me remains fundamentally attached to the northeast US. However the palms, the sand, the parrots and the geckos make me want to stick around for just a little while longer.
And there you have it. My childhood fantasy, realized. What about you?
As the day goes on, the rest of the participants in today's Blog Off will appear miraculously at the end of this post. Keep checking back and check out everybody's posts. You can follow along in Twitter as well, just look for the hashtag #LetsBlogOff. If you'd like more information about about the Blog Off or if you'd like to see the results of previous Blog Offs, you can find the main website here.