So, tonight I’m hopping on a plane to Florida for a two week vacation in Disney World and Universal Studios. I haven’t been to Disney World since I was 14. My parents went while I was in college and I always joked about how ‘angry’ I was that they didn’t take me.
When I applied to the Peace Corps and got accepted, my parents promised to take me back to Disney World when I returned home. When my days got especially hard during those two years in Senegal, I would turn on the Disneyland soundtrack and think of myself walking down Mainstreet USA. Perhaps it sounds rather childish or even pathetic, but after a day of racists, sexist comments, or having a really bad span of ‘my brain can’t comprehend Pulaar’, putting myself in Disneyland helped reset my sanity.
There was one other thing - my hat.
When my parents came back from Disney World (that trip without me) my mom bought a hat that had Mickey as he has been portrayed over the years. I borrowed it to go for a run that summer.
I never gave it back.
I took it with me to Senegal and for the 25 months I was there I wore it - no joke - for a total of 24 months.
This picture was taken in 2011. My sister (on the left) and myself are super excited for Magic Morning in Disneyland. See the Mickey hat I’m wearing? It’s all pristine and still pretty much new.
After two years of extreme heat, humidity, rain, dirt, sand storms, direct sunlight and a kitten who decided to chew on it one morning it looks like this:
Yes. That is duct tape.
Towards the end of my service I stopped wearing it every day because I was so afraid it would reach a point where duct tape wouldn’t be able to keep it together. It has shrunk. I sewed the holes together multiple times. Duct taped the parts that couldn’t be sewn and stopped washing it because doing so would cause its destruction.
My host family - especially my siblings - told me to throw it away more times than I can count. ‘Get a new hat’ they told me, ‘It’s so ugly now’. There was no way in hell I was going to do that. This hat was my constant reminder of what awaited me once I was done. It shaded my eyes from the sun as I walked around the village, went on my daily run or biked through the countryside. I’d put it over my face during a 14 hour car ride so I could sleep. I’d hand it over to my host moms so their baby boys could look adorable in it while I took pictures. It was a conversation starter. Early on during training it was my identifier - I was known as the Disney girl - and in the end it served as a physical metaphor to all of us PCVs what what we’d gone through - beaten up and dirty, but still alive and ready for the next adventure.
So now I’m going to Disney World and the first thing I am going to do is walk into a store and buy a new one. Not to throw this one away, but to ensure that it survives as long as possible to remind me of the incredible journey I took, how I’ve changed because of it and how I’m ready for the next adventure.
I need more tv shows that are on air right now, so like/reblog if you post
- Once Upon A Time
- Captain Swan (because who wouldn’t ship this?)
- The Flash
- How to Get Away With Murder
- Outlander (recently just watched this & currently reading the books)
- Faking It
- The 100
- The Vampire Diaries
& I’ll check out your blog once I’m finished with the loads of homework I have! :)