On the Steps of Main Street

I was standing in the middle of Main Street, USA, my father was right next to me. I had never seen the Disneyland fireworks before, and at 9- years- old I had finally made it through the whole day of fun without completely crashing. My reward was a wonderfully magical kiss goodnight. The lights dim and the music begins and a voice speaks:

“Good Evening , this is Julie Andrews.”

I turn to my father, jumping up and down, and he knew exactly why; Julie Andrews was my hero, my Mary Poppins. So he bent down and told me, “Yup that’s really her, and she’s here for you.”

Disneyland was already an amazing place for little girl like me to be at, but the moment I heard that Julie Andrews was here, I knew that magic was real, and it had happened right here on Main Street, USA.

Now that I’m adult I know that Julie was never physically there, but that doesn’t matter, because over eleven years later I remember that moment, and I remember that feeling of pure bliss, and how I wanted nothing more than to be apart of a place that created happiness. When I returned to the parks as an annual passholder at 15, I discovered what role was to be my dream one. A department that had been created by Walt Disney himself, Guest Relations, also known as Plaids. They were located at the front of Main Street, right where magic begins and I would walk by City Hall thinking one day, that would be me.

A little over a year ago, right before my 20th birthday my favorite manager here at the Disneyland Resort, Michelle, signed the papers allowing me to finally have a chance to live out my dream. I had the support of her, and fellow co- workers, all of them believing so strongly in me. Shortly a few months later, I had gotten the call that my transfer had gone through and I would be starting in just a couple weeks. The news of my new position was a silver lining, finally something good, no something wonderful, while my life has been nothing more but bad luck, broken hearts, betrayal, traumatic experiences and mistakes. I was finally doing something right.

The day I tried on that plaid costume was a moment filled with victory. Everything in my life suddenly seemed so much better, this job had become my happiness, my brand new start. But underneath that neatly tailored costume was still someone who was still felt like screaming, as the voices inside my head reminded me of every possible thing that could wrong. I still carried the hurt from the betrayal, broken heart, traumatic moments, except now I had a shiny new costume to disguise myself. You see it’s one thing to leave all your problems backstage, putting your best foot forward when you enter the rest the world. But to push everything so far down and be someone so consumed with the fear to be yourself that you pretend to be someone else, that’s a crime to no one else but you I thought this job would magically turn every bad thing in my life around, as if this costume could turn me into something extraordinary. But the leaders saw right through me, so one day, not too long after I had been there, they pulled me aside.

“I’m sorry, but we just don’t think you’re ready for this role, so right now, we will be emailing your store managers that you will be returning back to you polka dots next week”

I felt my soul leave my body; I can’t exactly remember crying, but I know I left that room mascara running down my face.

Their word were worse, and sharper than any other rejection I have gotten. Was it because I was stressed out, had I finally cracked into an emotional breakdown? Yes, I did, all the pressure of everything in my life had finally come crashing down. I had gotten use to life hurting me, but I couldn’t understand why God, the universe, and the people that inhabit it would present me with an opportunity to touch my dream, only to strip it away once I had fallen in love. In that moment I thought I had lost any single ounce of hope I had for myself, any hope I had to dream.

“You can finish up your scheduled week here, but for now, we think it’s best for you to go back to your home department, and grow” I didn’t understand, how was I ever able going to prove to them I belonged here, when I can’t even be given an opportunity to. My Heart was too busy screaming to hear the leaders tell me, “ I can see how passionate you are about this place, please, please do try again.”

At one point they offered me comfort, and allowing me to let me leave for the day if I wanted to. So I asked to speak to Michelle, I might have actually run to her. She comes to meet me where I am and sees the look in my eyes and she embraces me with a hug; I once again began bursting out into tears. “I couldn’t do it Michelle, I couldn’t do it. This is all some pipe dream, maybe I’m not good enough.” Michelle kept telling me that wasn’t true and she was so proud of me, but my heart was heavy, I felt like a failure; I was a failure. I had disappointed her, myself, and every single person who believed in me.

Returning to work the next day I was exhausting; I had makeup covering up the bags under my eyes and put on the bravest face I possibly ever could. My assignment was the VIP viewing area that cold December night, so I head on over to my position with a company issued phone and clipboard in hand.

I stood on the steps leading up to the Main Street Train Station. My coworker Noah is holding the Umbrella over us. With the Train closed for the time being, the area had been turned into a VIP viewing area; I was holding the magical clipboard of the names of guests who would be allowed through. Though it had been raining off and on all day, they’ve yet to cancel the 10:30 PM showing of The Paint the Night parade, so until then, there we stood on the steps of Main Street. At 9:59, Noah handed me the umbrella so he could go take his last 15 minute break, leaving me all alone on the steps. No one had come to retrieve their seat, in fact the park was nearly empty, a site I never get to see while it’s still open.

In front of me there’s an enormous Christmas tree, and a family taking selfies. The rain from earlier had left the ground glimmering with the reflection of lights from the Christmas tree and the shops along Main Street, USA. I head up the steps to the top of the station, completely alone, as I get higher, I can see the castle, covered in fake snow, but for a moment I’m believing it’s real. A soft tune of Silver Bells plays in the background while I stand higher above everyone in the park, looking out at the Magical Kingdom the Walt created, thinking about how all of this was possible with imagination and determination. For 15 minutes, all of this is mine and it’s everyone’s simultaneously, it’s a world where I belong. Up until then, the past couple months, have made my life seem it would never stop moving, never stop hurting me; I don’t have the time to think, to feel, or to breathe. Right now on Main Street, I’m finally at peace.

A small wind of a whisper tells me “Keep moving forward, because if everyone just gave up when they failed, you wouldn’t be standing on these steps right now”

Noah comes back, and I’m no longer alone, he asks me if I’m alright, and I tell him I will be.

Days later I’m back in polka dots, ringing up guests and restocking my store as if I’ve never left, trying to not think of what could be. Everything seemed so simple back in home department, I wasn’t in a panic, and I thought maybe, just maybe I’m meant to be here, in this store, with the guests. So, I thought to myself, I could stay here, the people I’ve befriended standing next to me, creating a future and a new start, and new beginning and though it was difficult, I found my happiness. In the smallest actions of my life, both inside and out of work. Slowly I started to allow myself to feel joy, spend time and experience love and support and healing. I couldn’t understand why I just didn’t accept my role in stores. I still created magic, made dreams come true I still had the chance to lead, and to grow and be guided by wonderful leaders; more importantly I never once doubted the current role I’m in was just as important and vital as anyone else in the resort, what was wrong with me.

I went to Michelle in her new area, three and half months of being back in my polka dots, expressing my conflicting feelings and how despite the stinging feeling of rejection, my heart was still calling me back to be plaid, but I was terrified.

“Perhaps it’s because, you still are meant to be there”

“Michelle, they sent me back…I belong here”

“You hesitate saying that, Jay, what is your heart telling you? Because if that voice in you continues to scream, maybe should listen to it, this is who you are. You have grown, see it, and take pride in it”

Michelle looked me in the eyes – “Jay, It’s not the job that makes you wonderful, it’s the person you are. If you can make magic in one department, then you can do it in another. The magic is yours wherever you go. Whatever you choose, wherever you end up, I will be proud of you and so will many others”

She hugged me goodbye, telling me to always keep her posted. I walked over to Main Street, to buy myself a cream cheese pretzel. It’s 9:30 and suddenly, the lights dim and the music begins and a voice speaks.

“Good Evening, this is Julie Andrews”

A memory from my childhood that I had onto so tightly, was being relived. Julie continued to speak, and the music persisted, there’s a sparkle in the sky, and tears in my eyes, but this time it’s not of sadness. I look over at the crowd of people in awe of the wondrous site; I sit there frozen, overwhelmed with happiness, smiling at the new memories being made for all the ones who heard Julie Andrew’s speak for the first time. Memories that would inspire people like me to dream big. I hear Julie’s voice once more.

“Remember, dreams come true”

Right in front of me, I envision my father and I standing there on Main Street, telling me how she was there for me. Perhaps it was all recorded music in the air, but I didn’t care. Julie was here in Disneyland, reminding me how of everything that made me want to create magic in the first place and those words, the fireworks, and all of Main Street was mine, and somehow managed to be everyone else’s simultaneously.

I placed my application for the role of a Plaid a couple days later on April 25th, and on July 25th I got invited back into the department.

The past eight months have taught me more about being myself and following my heart than I ever have in my entire life. For the longest time I kept wondering why I was given a chance to achieve for my dream, only to have it taken away once it was in the palm of my hand. But the truth is, it took me out of my comfort zone, I know now if I had never taken the opportunity to possibly leave then, I probably wouldn’t ever leave stores. Maybe timing wasn’t right, and maybe I still had lessons to learn, but I know this isn’t a pipe dream, this is possible, and it’s happening to me. Turns out dreams are more than the  wishes I make on stars and birthday candles; it’s about finding my passion and running with it and never looking behind you, to always be moving forward.

Healing isn’t linear and the fear of rejection still stings like a healed up broken bone. So, maybe the key to all of this, is to stop carrying so much self-hatred for things I could not control, to stop apologizing for loving the things that I do. Every morning I have to remind myself that I show strength in how much I’ve grown and continue to face the world fighting for the happiness and peace that I deserve to have. I make my own destiny. My happiness is finally finding a place in this world where I belong and the people I encounter throughout my life are meant to be a part of it somehow.

Tomorrow I begin a new journey, a new job, a happy beginning, understanding now that my costume does not define my growth, my healing, and ability to make magic. I’ll walk in there being nothing less than the person I am. And if I’m ever overwhelmed with sadness, grief, or ever anger, I’ll just head to the steps of Main Street. I’ll look at the world that I have been given, the opportunity I have to create not just my own happiness, but for others as well. I’ll remember the people I’ve met and think of the love and support they’ve given me.

Dreams do come true, how foolish was I to ever believe they couldn’t.

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