It had all seemed easy enough at the time. Just buy a ticket and go. The seed for my wanderlust had been planted long before I stepped onto this train. I had an inkling spending my formative years in Disneyland’s backyard colored my personality, affecting my outlook on life. My mother worked inside those walls of make-believe on Main Street USA in a shop that sold handmade glass, and every weekend I would enter through those “pearly” gates into a world unlike any other. Winnie-the-Pooh greeted me with a hug and Snow White patted my head. My little mind became filled with yearnings to live in a Tree House and to visit Magic Kingdoms across this Small World. I wanted to go on adventures in Submarines, to hide from the Pirates of the Caribbean. I wanted to venture bravely through Haunted Mansions. Walt Disney’s dream had done its trick on me. The line between fantasy and reality was nonexistent. By my fourth birthday, all hope for a conventional life had been eradicated.
So, at 20 years of age, it was no surprise to me that when my heart was broken – twice – and I felt disenchanted, confused, yearning for something more, anything different, I set out from my adopted hometown of Detroit to prove myself an independent woman; confident, bold and brave. It was a tall order, to be sure, but I was determined not to be a Cinderella. I wanted to be Alice in Wonderland on a curious adventure. I would walk my own path. I would show all those people who weren’t looking how strong I was. Never mind how unsure, lonely, and vulnerable I felt on the inside.