A Whole New World

You know the “Aladdin” song? (just in case you need a reminder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq2KLYRLQyw ) Well, that’s how I’m feeling these glorious November days, my new favorite month of the year, next to retirement October and September, the months the world goes back to work and school and retirees get to wander.

I’m here in Queens waiting the arrival of my new grandson–any day now.

If this sounds like deja vu, it’s because just 20 short months ago Baby Millie was born in the midst of the pandemic. She’s none the worst for wear, thank the Lord, but all of us adults and school-age kids got beat-up in the washing cycle. We’re coming out of it, a bit battered and in need of some fabric softener, but the sun is shinning here in the Big Apple as we slide into the Big Holidays wondering what Life will bring for families like ours throughout the Nation and the World?

Current Worry Score: 6.78

Things are getting better. At least in my little world. And I am feeling mighty blessed these days. I get cuddles from Millie, nuzzles from their black lab-mix pup Charlie, witness my daughter blossom into The Best Mommy and Teacher Ever, applaud my gritty son-in-law and have fallen in love and admiration with Millie’s paternal grandparents who moved from Hong Kong to be full-time caretakers to this full-house family.

Naturally, there’s a bit of jealously on my part because Millie favors them, not me, but knowing how devoted they are to our granddaughter is emotional and gratifying. Knowing that my daughter doesn’t have to worry about Millie’s care, takes a load of worry off my shoulders. She is going to be just fine. She’s strong. She’s supported. And she’s living the life she has chosen. And, she’s giving back: She’s an essential Educator. And (that’s the third), she’s happy. That’s what we parents want, right? Knowing that our grown kids are OK even if we can’t always be with them.

This gratitude thing is pretty overwhelming. It’s like the wind. The blowing Fall leaves.The Magic of Disney, which I so craved during the dark days of the pandemic. As I Distant-Taught my 8th grade English Language Arts students, double-dutied by caring for my new granddaughter, I used to fantasize about Disneyland. I imagined being on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and munching on popcorn down Main Street and what life would be like when the Mess of 2020 was over.

In September, I became a Magic Key holder. Couldn’t resist! Now I can go to Disneyland and California Adventure as much as I like, along with my sister and cousin. Us best-buddies senior citizens having a no-apology, only live once, blast.

Hopefully, as a Nation, we’re collectively rolling into health; but I know I will never forget The Lesson: To care for one another. To love as big as Mount Whitney. To never again take for granted the sweetness of a song or the greetings of a stranger. Smile. Stop being afraid. Stop worrying. Be present. Remember, God is in the center of all things, just waiting to join the party.

I’m sitting on the balcony outside my daughter’s Queens apartment as Millie naps, soaking up the sounds, the sights, the sun, the smells. Last year, I craved Nature and bought a turquoise bistro set for their balcony so I had a place to feel the air. They lived next to the train tracks which lulled some people in the household to sleep. Definitely not me! Now in their new apartment, the train is miles away and the soundtrack to our Fleet Street abode are the departing planes from John F. Kennedy Airport, a parade of honking horns and sirens from 4 to 8 p.m., cranking music of all languages, strolling children curiously pointing out the sights–the Halloween leftover jack-o-lanterns and skeletons–and hushed Disney lullaby music from inside the apartment.

The two-story brick homes, framed with silver and wrought iron awnings and rails, are so different from where I live in Southern California. People walk. Rarely talk. They are on a mission. And then there’s Me and Millie who wave and say, “Hi” to everyone we pass. It’s a game. Can we get them to smile? Respond? Feel lighter? See what we see?

It’s a Whole New World.

Alan Menken and Tim Rice were right when they penned these words almost 30 years ago:

I can show you the world
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Tell me, princess, now when did
You last let your heart decide?
I can open your eyes
Take you wonder by wonder
Over, sideways and under
On a magic carpet rideA whole new world

A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us, “No”
Or where to go
Or say we’re only dreaming
A whole new world
A dazzling place I never knew
But when I’m way up here
It’s crystal clear
That now I’m in a whole new world with you
(Now I’m in a whole new world with you)Unbelievable sights
Indescribable feeling
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond skyA whole new world (don’t you dare close your eyes)
A hundred thousand things to see (hold your breath, it gets better)
I’m like a shooting star, I’ve come so far
I can’t go back to where I used to be

A whole new world
With new horizons to pursue
I’ll chase them anywhere

There’s time to spare
Let me share this whole new world with youA whole new world (a whole new world)
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us, “No”
Or where to go
Or say we’re only dreaming
A whole new world (every turn, a surprise)
With new horizons to pursue (every moment, red-letter)
I’ll chase them anywhere, there’s time to spare
And then we’re home (there’s time to spare)
Let me share this whole new world with youA whole new world (a whole new world)
That’s where we’ll be (that’s where we’ll be)
A thrilling chase (a wondrous place)
For you and me

The sky’s the limit fellow adventures. What’s on the horizon for you?

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