Thursday, June 28, 2007

Almost Complete

It's been a few years now, and Duloc Manor is almost (but not quite) complete. When we left Chicago, all we were able to take with us was what we could fit into Canyonero (my Aztek). Even then, the space was severely limited by a giant cage containing three cats, a smaller cage containing Bradley, my cockatiel, and two baggies temporarily acting as fish habitats.

Still, there wasn't much in Chicago that I couldn't live without. My mother was a compulsive packrat/hoarder, which pushed me to the opposite extreme. With few exceptions, I don't get overly attached to material items. There were only a handful of things that it broke my heart to leave: My paperback library, since I am a voracious reader and am also the sort who can read favorite books over and over again, with just as much pleasure the 100th time as the first; my comedy and tragedy mask collection, which as swelled to well over 100 pairs in virtually any style you can imagine; and a very special piece of Disney Cruise Line artwork.

Below are two walls full of my comedy and tragedy masks (there is a third wall, but sadly I don't have a shot of that one). If you look very closely at the lefthand picture, you will see a duplicate of the pair that hangs at the 50's Prime Time Diner at Disney MGM Studios. Below them are a duplicate of the masks that started my passion; when I was a tiny toddler or two or three, they hung over the mailbox in my Chicago home (we had the sort where the mail is put in a slot and comes into the house). I would sit on the chair below the mailbox, flipping the door open and closed with a child's idle curiosity as the masks hung benignly overhead. My mother would point to them and say, "That's Comedy and that's Tragedy." What does a tot know of drama? It my simple, literal child's mind, I figured it was two guys and those were their names. I have no idea what happened to those original masks, which disappeared when I was four or five. But as an adult, I made it my personal vendetta to find duplicates. It was a long, frustrating search until my husband discovered the wonders of Ebay; it still took me a while, but I managed to find the originals along with over 100 adjunct styles.

To a lesser extent, I miss my doll collection (I have all sorts of charater dolls, ranging from Drew Carey to Ed Grimley to Dennis Rodman to the Simpsons and the South Park gang, plus a generous sprinkling of Disney luminaries). But for some reason, I'm not quite as deeply attached to the dolls as I am to the aforementioned items.

This past week, I was finally reunited with one of the missing pieces: My Disney Cruise Line print. That was easier said that done, as it is enormous. It's one of the prints that hang over the stateroom beds; I love this one in particular because it is a duplicate of the one in my favorite stateroom, 5650. After nearly 60 Disney cruises, with the majority of them spent in my favorite location, 5650 is almost like a vacation home to me...a place I know almost as well as my own home. I love its location, way off in the back of deck 5. There is only a neighbor on one side, and no one at all across the hall, so noisy foot traffic is virtually absent.

You do hear the rumble and vibration of the engines, especially when the ship is docking, but I am a white noise fan so it doesn't bother me a bit. I also like the somewhat larger verandah, which is recessed due to the curve of the ship. It makes a very cozy little nook to enjoy breakfast at sunrise, to curl up with a compelling novel at midday, or to watch the orange fireball extinguish itself on the horizon at dusk.

Over time, I fell in love with the print that hangs over the bed in 565o on the Disney Wonder (the ship on which we spend most of our time). It's a picture of the ship, with little circles showing various goings on:

From left to right, there's a man lounging on a deck chair, a chef preparing lobster, a couple dancing, and a shuffleboard player. There is a matching print in some of the other staterooms that shows Castaway Cay (Disney's private island), but because this particular one is in my "home away from home," it's the one that grew on me.

A couple of times, a copy was offered for sale in the onboard auction. But the starting bid was high, and each time I tried, someone else had to jump in and offer more until the price exceeded my comfort level. How I coveted that print; it would be so lovely to have a little piece of the Disney Wonder and stateroom 5650 to enjoy while back on shore.

I was beginning to lose hope; then we went on a holiday cruise, and I received a very special Christmas present: A copy of the picture for my very own...I was estatic! However, I still faced a daunting challenge. The picture was quite large (four feet by two feet), and at the time, we still lived in Chicago. I had to figure out how to get it home in one piece.

It was wrapped snugly in tissue and bubble wrap, but I knew that the packing materials would be no match for the desctructive capacities of the baggage handlers. My only possible hope was gate checking it, or by some miracle being allowed to take it on the plane. Since the airport was packed with luggage-laden holiday travelers, and since the picture didn't even come close to meeting any carry-on dimensions, I doubted that would be a possibility.

As we waited to board, with the hulking, mummy-like package, nearly as tall as me, leaning against my side, a gaggle of teenage girls caught sight of it. They whispered and giggled amongst themselves, and from what I could gather, they were trying to figure out what might lay below all those wrappings. Finally I said, "I know you're dying to ask, so I'll solve the mystery. It's just a giant picture." Not as exciting as a body that had been run over by a steamroller or a panel from an ancient Egyptian tomb, but at least their curiosity was saited.

As we neared the jetway, I was seized with fear. Even if my precious cargo made it through the rigors of the baggage hold, I knew there was no way it could survive the tender mercies of the Midway airport baggage handlers. Their mascot: The silverback gorilla. Their motto: "No item makes it through unscathed."

Fortuntely, luck was with me in the form of a merciful flight attendant. She laid the picture on the floor of a luggage bin, and she only allowed soft items like coats, purses, and the like to be placed on top of it. Whew! Even though ATA eventually went to hell in a handbasket, I am still eternally grateful that they let me transport my beloved picture in one piece.

For years, it hung in a place of prominence in our Chicago condo. When my mood was as gloomy as the gray winter skies outside my window, I only had to glance at the wall and a smile would spread across my face. Forget the bitter cold and the heavy, slushy snowflakes. My mind was two thousand miles away, on a sunny verandah somewhere out in the azure ocean.

Now that we had moved to Celebration, I was back to Square One. Just as I couldn't easily get the picture from Florida to Illinois on an airplane, I was now faced with the same dilemma, albeit in the opposite direction. It would have to come by car someday, but I knew that day lay in the far, far future.

Almost five years later, my patience finally paid off. Two of my nieces and three of their friends embarked on a road trip to Florida in an SUV. With all of those bodies and the attendant luggage, there wasn't much additional room. But somehow they managed to fit my beloved picture into the mix; now, FINALLY, it hangs in its rightful place of prominence, dominating the family room of Duloc Manor.

We've been bringing my books in a small but steady trickle; my beloved masks are still at the Chicago condo, but I have faith that they'll be back in my hands someday. In the meantime, as my fingers fly across my laptop keyboard and I feel overwhelmed by my work, I can glance up just as I did in Chicago for an instant smile recharge. Even when I can't be on the Disney Wonder, a little piece of it is always close at hand.

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Anonymous said...

I am delighted to learn that the picture has made it to Duloc Manor!! What a great story.
Hoping you are well,
Jan Easterly

Jan said...

I am glad to learn that the picture is finally in Duloc Manor!
Great story.
Hoping you are well,
Jan Easterly