When the projection of glowing lanterns from the film “Tangled” washed over Cinderella’s Castle as “I See the Light” played and fireworks burst overhead, I lost it.

It was about halfway through the Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World when 10 days of vacation spilled over into tears of joy.

The tears rolled down my cheeks, but I didn’t want to waste time wiping them away. I was too focused on soaking in every detail. Please remember this, I thought, remember all of this.

It was the perfect moment. Chuck and I were standing in the middle of the “most-magical place on Earth” on our five-year wedding anniversary. We were surrounded by hundreds of people, but in that moment, it was just us. And it really was magical.

When people found out Chuck and I were going to celebrate our five years of wedded bliss in Disney World, the reviews were mixed. My diehard Disney friends were jealous but supportive, but others seemed confused. Why not go to Hawaii? Paris? Anywhere but a theme park packed with thousands of people?

Trips to Disney parks allow me to tap into that carefree innocence and wonder that gets buried under the humdrum of everyday adulthood. It provides an escape, and the world seems to get a little crazier every day, so I was looking forward to tuning out reality and losing myself in a place where imagination is limitless.

Chuck and I split our honeymoon between Disneyland and Las Vegas, so when I floated the idea of going to Disney World for our fifth anniversary and it wasn’t immediately vetoed, I began reading about all things Disney World. Chuck and I had never been there, so I wanted to plan the most epic vacation we could afford.

Not to brag, but we slayed our vacation. We made the most of 10 days on the Disney World property – which is the size of San Francisco, by the way. It’s enormous: Four theme parks, two water parks and more than 30 resort hotels, plus golf courses and the Disney Springs shopping metropolis. Ten days may seem like a lot, but in Disney World time, that’s only scratching the surface.

It would have been easy to over-stuff our days racing from ride to ride and catching every show possible, but Chuck and I made sure to relax and not overdo it. It was just nice being together.

Chuck and I have been together for a total of 10 years. In all that time, this was the first time we’d been inseparable for more than a week. I was a little worried that the stress of traveling mixed with my anxiety about large crowds might test our patience with each, but that never happened. We enjoyed every minute together. The trip may have even strengthened our relationship.

Which brings me back to the fireworks. I’ve always loved the song “I See the Light” from “Tangled”. It relaxes me and gives me all those lovey-dovey feelings.

But it wasn’t until that moment in the Magic Kingdom, standing next to Chuck under the fireworks, that my love for that song really clicked.

The portion of the song that played during the show goes like this: “And at last I see the light … And it’s warm and real and bright/ And the world has somehow shifted/ All at once everything looks different/ Now that I see you.”

That song reminds me of what it was like when Chuck came into my life and turned my world upside down in the best possible way. He made my world brighter and filled it with a love I didn’t know existed. And he continues to paint my world in light and love every day.

Why it took me all these years to make that connection, I’m not quite sure, but the realization washed over me just like those tears on my cheeks.

Happily Ever After? So far, so good.

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Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Simple & Sassy runs every other Sunday. She can be reached at shartley@napanews.com.


Online Editor/Calendar Editor

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Her column Simple & Sassy runs on alternating Sundays.