I returned to the Park this day, after what was (for me) too long a hiatus.
The fresh paint job on Main Street (and continuing elsewhere, including over at the Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland) literally shone from off the storefronts.
A healthy crowd surged through Disneyland as the 2011 summer season started.
Our middle and youngest daughter took off on a tour of Fantasyland attractions while my wife, son and I wandered to my beloved West Side.
Snaking our way through the throng of guests, we made it to the Mint Julep Bar for a cold and time-honored light green, magic libation.
We found a table along the railing of the French Market, with the Disneyland Railroad chugging into the station immediately behind us.
The hum of conversation, clank of plates and bustle of diners soon faded as the sound of gentle and distinctly American jazz rose to the fore.
The Royal Street Bachelors (2011 version) had taken the small stage and begun to play.
I sat there and was simply at peace.
Good to be back.
My wife looked across the table and could see it in my face. She smiled.
My son, now a sophomore in high school, told us about how he and his best friend now spend more time at the Park sitting, talking and watching than they do riding the attractions.
He is amazed how they now enjoy the Park's atmosphere and, say, a quiet table on the porch of the Plaza Pavilion as much as, if not more than, a trek with Indiana Jones or a rollicking ride on Big Thunder.
One other moment caught me during our visit that I suppose is worth sharing.
I was seated at a table in the Village Haus, alone and facing one of its windows.
Through the leaded glass of the window, I could see Fantasyland, Casey Junior, Village Haus umbrella tables, tall pine trees and vibrant flower beds, and a stream of guests moving in the foreground.
But I was taken by how vividly then I was transported back to the Village Haus in 1984, looking out that same window.
I felt myself blink back and forth between then and now, while seated in my chair.
I half expected to look down and see my old sweeper whites and Red Wing shoes.
It was eerily real, but only for a flash, like the vague shadow of something that passes through one's peripheral vision.
This wasn't simple nostalgia either. It was not so emotional or touchy-feely.
I breathed in and looked up. The window caught my eye.
I breathed out and could feel my pan and broom leaning against the chair.
And the towel dangling from my belt.
And the cool, starchy crispness of my white day custodial shirt.
The flashlight in its leather holster off my right hip.
My Mickey watch, too. The one with the old Velcro band that kept it securely on my wrist.
I knew my break or my lunch was nearing an end.
When I got up, I would step back out to resume my rounds, with the Skyway drifting overhead.
Straining to see through the glass, I searched for it.
I tried to make out the tower near Casey Junior.
Vainly my eyes tracked the air where the cable used to run.
No soft pastel gondolas floated past.
My mind was actually puzzling over the sudden disappearance of the attraction.
This realization shattered the moment like a dropped sugar sculpture.
I was back again.
From the 1980s hopeful promise of the future, to 2011's oh-so-pleasant Now.
My soul cringed.
Just a tad.
But nevertheless I said a heartfelt Thank You for what had just occurred.
It is funny how the Park can lift you now or take you back to then or promise great, big beautiful Tomorrows.
I have a feeling I'll be back for more.