Looking back at 2005, I see a lot of hardships but I have a lot to be thankful for. You would probably think I would list “aortic arch reconstruction surgery” as the worst thing that happened to me this year, but you would be wrong.
Ironically, the worst thing that happened to me in 2005 occurred at Disneyworld. You might recall I referred to Disneyworld as “self-actualization” camp, but even I didn’t know how prophetic that would be. I thought I was going there to merely live my dreams. Little did I know, I would be forced to re-examine my whole life and endure a painful process of rebirth and reinvention that would ultimately culminate in a whole new Eric Filipkowski.
The incident I speak of that sparked all this soul-searching took place at EPCOT. A theme park unlike any other. Where the future meets the cultures of the world at a giant Christmas tree underneath a gleaming monorail.
I was on day seven of my journey. I had spent 3 or 4 days at EPCOT already at this point and had seen pretty much everything. I said pretty much. Remember that, it will be important.
So anyway, I was there with Bordo, Violet and Yury and we were all pretty tired at that point. I remember the exact time. It was 6:58 pm on Sunday, December 18. We had been around to most of the countries and Yury and Bordo had ridden Mission: Space. They had gotten a Fastpass ticket to return to Test Track at 8:05 pm so we were killing time in Future World so they could ride that, right at their allotted time and then we could all run over to Japan for our 8:45 dinner reservation at the Teppanyaki Dining Room.
Anyway, we were outside the Imagination Pavilion and I thought, “Great, let’s all go watch ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Audience’ before Test Track.” Seemed like a good plan, no? Well, my “friends” decided they would take a “smoke break” before we watched the movie, in what would ultimately prove to be a fatal error.
You see, most of the pavilions in Future World close at 7 pm. I think you see where this is going. They keep the big rides open til closing but “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” is no longer quite as popular as it used to be. So while my nicotine-addict friends were getting their “fix”, I strolled up to the entrance and was informed that the ride was now closed. If they had been with me, the guy would have snuck us in for the very last viewing, but of course, they were hundreds of feet away at the designated smoking area in front of the Land.
Now I know what you’re thinking, I could have gone in alone. But I didn’t go to self-actualization camp to ride all the rides by myself. Well, actually I did, but that all took place on Cartmanland Wednesday. Sunday was a time for friends to hang out together and experience things as a group. Apparently the only group they had in mind was the one where you all get lung cancer.
I walked away, dejected and ran into my friends. “Let’s go watch the movie!” they said. I kept walking, right past them.
“Where are you going?” they asked, confused.
“Forget it, it’s too late.” I said.
They called after me and I was forced to explain the situation to them. I had missed “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience”. I was devastated. I knew at that moment how alone I truly was in the world. How alone we all are. I thought I could count on my friends but they had let me down. Apparently my dreams weren’t important to them. Not as important as getting cancer, anyway.
There are a million what-ifs that run through my brain as I try, in vain, to fall asleep each night. I attempt to comfort myself with the thought that I can go watch “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” at Disneyland when I get back to California, but it’s not the same. It doesn’t have the terrible ten minute Kodak Commerical/Pre-show featuring those awful kids singing “True Colors” by Cindy Lauper.
And sure, I could just have gone to see it the next day or go with my family when I return to Disneyworld in January, but that’s not really the point, is it? The point is I went to Disneyworld to realize my true self. And sadly, I did.
My true self is not the carefree, swingin’ free spirit, beloved by all. Generous of spirit, sound of body and mind. I know this is how you all see me, but it’s a charade.
I am a sad, lonely, broken man who has come to realize that life is meaningless and that we are all alone in this world and that even at the Greatest Place on Earth, we can be betrayed by the ones we trust the most. Sold out for some simple pleasures of the lining of the lungs.
Well guess what, world? You win. Fuck you. I give up. I’ll get my three-piece suit and my 9 to 5 job on Wall Street. The house, the wife, the kids. The entry-level European luxury sports sedan with x-Drive and On Star standard for the first 3 years.
Are you happy now? Cuz I don’t even know what that word means anymore.
I’m broken and this time the best surgeons in the world couln’t rip open my chest and fix me again.