I was a single,over 35, adult orphan with one credit card left that worked. Holding myself together with self help books and chocolate. If I had to listen one more time to Chris Issak order his plain salmon , no butter, no oil , no salt.
I was gonna lose it. When you can no longer be in a room with Chris Issak and a butter knife; that’s a red flag.
I was broke. I didn’t need an alarm clock because every morning I would wake up to the sound of an urgent message from Bill Anderson of Bank One Visa.
For the record, this is not where I had planned to be in my life. I was running late. Late for everything. Late for love, success, happiness. This was the summer of my discontent.
I needed a Vacation!
Somewhere happy, pristine, perfect, stress free. My dream was to go to the ultra hip Miami resort The Delano. George Clooney stays there. I couldn’t afford it.
Then it came to me.
I thought why not take a trip to the Happiest place on Earth. A place where age didn’t matter. I admit I was secretly dying to go there.
Yes. I took a trip by myself to Disney World.
I wanted to go to a place where people were contractually obligated to be nice to me.
And so, I devised a plan based on the teachings of 3 books. The Oprah classic, Ilanya Van Zant’s, In The Meantime, Because you’re not alone, you’re with yourself.
Og Mandino’s , A Better Way To Live, rule # 1; Treat everyone you meet as if they are going to die at midnight.
And The Insiders Guide To Disney World , which is filled with all these cheap secrets, like staying in a youth hostel and how to make money by attending time share breakfasts. All you have to do is act like you are wanna buy a time share, have a free breakfast, take a tour and get paid $100 cash.
If I could make enough money I could cap off my trip with 3 days and 2 nights at The Delano It’s like I’ve turned into some kind of Cheap Genius.
The plan went into action. I packed up my slim suit and was off.
My rule: As soon as I leave for a trip the vacation fun begins. I arrive in Orlando and almost immediately everything goes wrong My rental car is infested with ants. There is a crazy lady sitting in a chair by the door at the youth hostel who keeps me up all night with her incessant throat clearing. (ahem,ahem,aaahem) But It doesn’t matter. I get a room at the Holiday Inn and a new rental car because my vacation must continue.
The next morning I attend my first time share breakfast . I meet with my time share "friend" Julie, who was nicer to me than any member of my family had ever been.
I politely declined to purchase a time share & she gave me the agreed upon $100 cash. Yea! The plan is working.
Finally I arrive at Disney World. I’m so excited I pee a little.
God, it does make you feel like a kid. I eat at Tony’s Italian Cafe from Lady & the Tramp. A Mouse shaped fritatta, And I meet Goofy. Oh- my- God!
I admit, at first I was a little self conscious being "with myself" in Disney World. I wondered what people were thinking about me as I waited on line for the rides. Were little kids going to stare and ask. "Mommy why is that lady all alone? What would I say if asked why I was “with myself”.
I’m writing a travel book, I’m a foreign tourist, I have cancer.
I decided that my aloneness was an interesting mystery to others, and rode the Thunder Mountain Railroad with bravado rather than embarrassment. Onto Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, Mr. Toads Wild Ride.
I was deep into vacation fun.
Next stop , The Animal Kingdom. It’s hot, like 100 degrees and I’m lost in Africa. Off in the distance I saw the African Rhino Bar. Could it be they serve Alcoholic beverages in Disney? For people like me? Could I drink and ride at Disney? What the heck. I had a margarita and listened to the somewhat authentic steel drum band.
Before I left on my trip my co-workers described me as brave for traveling alone. I decided they were right , I was brave and mildly intoxicated.
The next morning I went to the Ramada on the outskirts of Orlando for another time share breakfast. After waiting for 2 hours, there was no breakfast or tour. "They couldn’t accommodate me," they said. And they wouldn’t give me my "gift" Deep breath …
"Don’t take anything personally," "Live each day as if it is your last."
If I don’t get this money I can’t go to Miami. I freaking lost it. "Listen, I’m from New York. You sucked up 2 hours of my valuable relaxation time and I want my $100 right freaking now. This- is -my -vacation! I got the money. Nobody fucks with Liz in Disney World.
Next day, I arrived in South Beach at The Delano. It was beautiful. Everything was white. It looked like heaven. Only more exclusive. I floated in the pool which played Mozart under the water. I met my pool boy, Carlos. He brought me pizza & Pina Coladas. I spotted an actor by the pool. I don’t know his name but, he was the blind guy in Contact.
At the pool bar I met some “investment bankers “from NY. They were on an “expense account”. They bought me dinner and drinks .
It was decadent. We were drinking Dom & Bud at the same time. We went to all the clubs, Opium, Liquid,Fire … I don’t remember the names, It didn’t matter. I had conquered Space Mountain & The Teacups … all on my own.
Late that night I went back to Heaven and stayed there for 2 more glorious days of room service, movies and floating in the pool, with myself.