An Interview with My Mother

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"It was like being in the middle of the Sahara, but greener," says my mother Donna, 52, as she
recalls her arrival at Orlando Jet Force, a part of the McCoy Air Force Base. Orlando National
Airport did not exist. McCoy was the only option in order to reach the land of dreams: Disney World.
It was 1972. Donna was a junior in high school when her dad decided to host a conference in Orlando,
Florida for his sandwich business. She had no idea she would be dragged along. "He thought it
would be fun," she says sarcastically. She knew better, given that they did not have a close
relationship. She flew by herself to Orlando Jet Force. As she stepped off the plane, all she saw
was barren, swampland stretched out for miles. "I thought, "Oh my god, I'm in the middle of
nowhere,'" says Donna. Disney World had only been open for a year and had not gained much
recognition. Only two hotels resided: the Polynesian and the Contemporary. Places to eat were
limited to the five star restaurants in the hotels. There was no kids' menu, so for ten nights in
a row, she had the Steak Diana off the adult menu. To make matters worse at dinner, she was
surrounded by adults who she couldn't converse with; she was just a teenager. "Nights at the
Polynesian and the Contemporary weren't fun at all." Every morning at 9 a.m., Donna and her dad
would go to the parks. She would go on all the rides alone, while her dad sat on a bench and watched
from a distance. When they would return to the hotel, Donna would lounge by the pool, also by
herself. Her dad golfed or attended the convention, and her mom drank and played cards with the
women. "There was nothing to do," she says. "I was always alone." But on one peculiar day,
her dad did something out of the ordinary. He went on "It's a Small World" with Donna. She was
less than enthusiastic. "I felt silly, like I was too old to be on the ride," she says with a
laugh. But despite how immature she felt, she finally wasn't alone. She says it was the most
memorable part of her trip, but Donna and her dad still don't share a close relationship. "He
always bothers me about the sweaters I wear. He likes ones that make me look fat. But that's just
my dad," she says.





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