It’s 8 p.m. and my wife and I emerge from the turnstiles marking the threshold of Disneyland. The Twins, on the other hand, have just entered Dreamland back at the hotel with my wife’s grandmother, who graciously volunteered to do so after walking around the park all day with us.
I feel considerably lighter without our progeny in tow and can’t fight the smirk on my face. While experiencing the Happiest Place on Earth with our children for the first time that day had been an absolute blast, we’d been restricted from the fast-moving “big kid” attractions, but now, for a few hours, the Land is our oyster.
As we hurry our way down Main Street, U.S.A. towards the iconic, lit-up Sleeping Beauty Castle, I take my wife’s hand and with the bubbly inflection of a seven-year-old, ask, “What do you want to go on first? Star Tours? Splash Mountain? Big Thunder?”
“All I really want to do right now is go to the bathroom.”
“Should we do it?”
“I don’t know–they could really like it, but they also could really hate it.”
“Yeah, I know. But how often are we here?”
“Exactly. If we don’t go now, we might not get to at all.”
We were so close. The timing was almost perfect. Sure, it could end horribly, with double toddler tantrum a cappella until it was over, but that line of thinking would imply that any new experience with the Twins has such potential. Pessimistically speaking, the whole trip was a risk, but we’d gotten this far without a hitch, and now, in The Happiest Place on Earth, the optimism was running high. And there was just no way we were going to leave Disneyland without going on The Pirates of the Caribbean.
You see, to us, this wasn’t just a ride. It was a pilgrimage of sorts, a half-decade in the making.
One the earliest conversations my wife and I had when we first started dating in January 2007 involved divulging each of our Favorite Things Ever–you know, one of those late-night heart-to-heart sessions common to the super-duper thrill of a new relationship. I had learned early on about her incredible sense of smell–we’re talking vampire-caliber here (to this day she can literally detect a poop-filled diaper from the opposite side of the house). With that in mind, I eventually wound up asking her what her Absolute Favorite Smell was.
Without hesitation, she replied, “The smell in The Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland.”
I was taken aback–I hadn’t expected something so specific. “Really? THAT’S your favorite smell?”
“Absolutely. It has this sweet, musty, kind of old side, but also this fresh, watery feel. And then there’s all the pirates and singing. It reminds me of simpler times, when I’d go to Disneyland with my family and being on Pirates was just the best thing ever. It just…The thought of it makes me happy.”
I then imagined myself riding it–the thrill of the pitch-black drop, the splashing cannons, the singing scalawags, the way the faux night sky looks so damn real…and that smell…
“Yeah, you know, now that I think about it, that is a pretty awesome smell.”
“I think I’ll take you there someday.”