i am a planner of the first order, a list maker extraordinaire. some call me bossy, others call me a control freak, but none call me unprepared.

two weeks ago, we met my husband’s brother and his wife in the atlanta airport and the four of us trekked down to orlando where we picked up my 50-year old developmentally delayed sister-in-law nancy, and took her to visit the mouse. we don’t see this brother/wife duo more than once or twice a year, and given that traveling together has wrecked more than one friendship, and since we’re so different (both as individuals and as couples), and because nancy is more than a little on the high maintenance side of things, i think you’ll understand why i was the teensiest bit concerned about how this adventure might go down in the family history book.

talk about your unintended consequences . . . i was out of town the three weeks immediately preceding this little adventure, which meant i headed to orlando completely unfettered. no need for a packing list, i just took whatever clothes happened to be clean. no need to list things we might possibly need for nancy, we’d just take the rental car out and fetch anything we lacked. as for the list of conversation kindling, well shoot, i completely forgot about making that.

thursday found us at the magic kingdom where there were no crowds – i’m not kidding – which meant no lines. no crowds + no lists = no stressing over how to fit everything in. that night when nancy became ill, her two brothers were able to help her right into the ladies restroom, empty because even the teensiest bladders will magically wait patiently during magnificent fireworks displays. and when i decided we needed a wheelchair to get nancy back to the hotel, like magic, the first aid station happened to be right next door to the ladies restroom we inhabited.

friday found us at epcot where we strolled leisurely about, happening upon the italian players just as they needed someone who looked just like my husband to play romeo in their version of romeo and, well, edna; walking into japan just as the drummers flamboyantly waved their drumsticks in the air; arriving at our table in the moroccan restaurant just as the belly dancer took the floor. though we were not shopping as we made our way through the norway gift shop after exiting the viking boats, i spotted copies of my favorite 4th grade book called snow treasure. and when i approached the register with a heart racing with the happiness at being reunited with a long-lost friend, i was the only customer and thus able to pay and get outside before donn and carole even knew we were no longer right behind them. and as if all that isn’t enough, we happened upon mexico just in time to watch the sun set over the water as we sipped our margaritas – the spell broken only when nancy surprised us all by uncharacteristically saying “nothing wrong with me.”

despite the lack of planning of what to talk about, the only lull in conversation was when we slept, and even though i had no packing list to go by, i wore clean underwear every. single. day.

it was a magical five days, yes it was. not overly tiring, no cross words were uttered, and we didn’t leave a single thing in the room when we checked out.

now some might say it’s the camel who spat on me not once but several times who’s responsible for the magic. others might credit the mouse and his creator. had she been there, my mother-in-law would say i was holding my nose just right. but really, i’m thinking that the magic we enjoyed on this five-day adventure has to do more with me letting go.

quoting liz emmett mattox, patti digh writes “those who look and expect to see magic will find it everywhere.” with my nose not constantly hovering over various lists, i spied magic all around me. with hands not responsible for marking things off, i preserved magical memories that i’m finding far more satisfying than any list ever made.


the story is mine, but credit for the kindling goes to gwen bell and her best of 2009 blog challenge.

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