Every once in a while there is a brief moment where our world falls away. Or at least, that’s what the songs tell you. A moment where the veneer of our daily worries retreats just enough to bring things into perspective. ‘A Disney moment,’ Angela would call it. And as she turned the page of her book, and heard the melodic clink of ceramic on ceramic , she finally learned what that truly meant.
It had been a hard day. Josie had been difficult as usual, or a ‘bitch’ as Angela preferred to say (privately.) To Angela it seemed odd that a woman so similar to her could be so challenging to work with. But she supposed there was an element of misunderstanding, different expectations and reactions. But in the ongoing show-reel of her head, Angela was happy to entertain the drama.
‘You are too dramatic, just let it go’ her mother had always said. Angela hated to admit when her mother was right, but, annoyingly, as time went on, she seemed all the wiser. But she didn’t have to admit it, instead she preferred to pretend. There had to be a little entertainment. A hard day could just be another story.
But with a hard day comes something lost, something she needed to fulfil. And usually she just went home and watched Netflix. Let it all blend together. But, today felt different.
So, today of all days, she had decided to reward herself. She had always enjoyed an iced latte, but upon reaching the counter at Starbucks had found herself drawn elsewhere. An exotic Colombian roast. She had always wanted to visit Colombia, but work had always got in the way. The world never stopped turning for you.
The world of Disney princesses, fantastical princes and adventures was a far cry from what truly was. It was invented to make life bearable, and the brief breaths of romance and heroism were, as she considered, delusions. There was simply no magic left, just the odd physical pleasure, a new taste, smell or sound. A brewing Colombian coffee on a Friday night.
So there she was, mind buried in the events of her day, Josie’s (bitch) face droning on, the words of her novel half ignored, and her special coffee warming her stomach. But Angela wasn’t really there until she heard the ‘clink.’ And in a very human habit, she turned her head and saw him; the old man with the tired eyes.
His skin had greyed a little, and fresh whiskers poked out from his pale face. He had a small coffee pressed to his lips, which were pursed. A little of the coffee had spilled down his front, staining his white shirt (although, it was already a little yellow.) Angela liked that, authenticity and permanence were comforting in such a rapidly changing world.
But it wasn’t his shirt that caught Angela’s attention. It was his eyes, and something in his hand. Across the table were strewn pictures, some yellowed like the shirt, others new. An empty packet read ‘Charles’, which Angela vaguely remembered as shop up the street.
Every picture featured the same face, and as you glanced over the collage you could see it age.
For a moment Angela was perplexed, but then the man’s eyes answered her question. They were red, staring off beyond the polaroid in his hand. They seemed to look through it, as if back in time. She could see his mind working, struggling to put the past and today together. Something that she understood. But whilst he was clawing at the past, she often pushed it away.
Always chasing that quick reward. The moment yet to come.
But in this moment, as she realised that the man opposite her was saying goodbye to his wife, she had that Disney moment. Angela felt things fall away, and something came into focus.
A Disney moment wasn’t about a fairy tale, but the moments that transcend our worries. The seconds that remind us of our dreams, and how they come and go. Where a second can become an eternity, and what’s lost can be held for just so long.
Life wasn’t about a mermaid or hero, but about the beauty of moments we cherish. How they could provide us purchase even in the harsh cyclone of our lives speeding up. A smiling face in a yellowing picture, a yellow hat in a shaking hand, anything could be that moment,
All of a sudden Josie, her mother, the hard day and the quick reward seemed trivial. And all that was left was the old man, his moment, his story and the timeless love. She caught her breath and smiled. The old man looked up, his hands trembling, and nodded. He held up the picture, pointed with his other hand and smiled.
‘This was at Disney Land,’ he said.
Every once in a while I like to write something different. Image courtesy of Flickr.