Unencumbered. Sort of.

I stopped carrying a purse when I was a freshman in college. I had a backpack and my flute case, and whatever I needed would fit within them.

I stopped wearing a watch shortly after I started having hand problems my sophomore year of college. I realized that my stress level was much, much higher when I obsessed about time, and I really only needed a timepiece to get me up in the morning and make sure I didn’t miss class while I was holed up in practice rooms. Every classroom had a clock, and there was Memorial Union’s clock and the clock on the alumni center. There were clocks on the phones at work and a clock hanging on the wall at Target. And in the end, I developed a very, very good time sense.

I still don’t carry a purse. And most of the time, I still don’t wear a watch. Ordinarily, I carry a wristlet-wallet thingy that helps compact the necessities. But not while we were at Disney.

See, Disney has this little doohickey called a Magic Band now:

Magic Band

It came as part of the package we bought, so I don’t know how much they cost to buy alone. Probably a lot. Underneath the Mickey symbol is a waterproof radio transmitter that is encoded with, well, everything. It’s your hotel room key, your park admission, your meal reservation, and your fast passes. You can use it to charge things to your room account, so you don’t even need to carry a credit card if you don’t want to (although we were pretty darned careful about that feature). And any time a photographer took pictures of us at one of the parks, they would scan our Magic Band and all those pictures ended up on the web where we could look at them later.

The Magic Bands updated pretty much instantaneously whenever Christian added or deleted a FastPass from his smart phone app. The last day, Alex and I were doing a switch pass for Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, and the worker called him by name. It was not until that moment that I realized it probably also had our contact information programmed into it, so that if a child got lost, they could find us quickly.

The reason I’m going through all this is that the Magic Bands allowed me an experience I pretty much never have anymore. We had plenty of stuff to carry for the kids: blankets, jackets, hats, etc. (We took the stroller with us to carry most of it.) But as for me, with my Magic Band on my wrist and my phone in my pocket, I had everything I needed. I didn’t even have to keep track of a wallet.

It was really weird. In a good way. I felt so unencumbered. Much like I felt when I visited Disneyland like this:

LHL Jr Carousel 46  073

Most of the time, I have to do a mental checklist any time I’m going anywhere to make sure I don’t forget something. iPad? Portable DVD player? Wallet? Keys? Sunglasses? Paperwork for whatever child I’m at an appointment for? Books? Backpacks? For one week, I got to feel at least an approximation of the freedom from logistical worries that I left behind when I became a responsible adult. It was really, really nice. It’s not sustainable in the long-term—I couldn’t work this way, take kids to practices and doctor appointments this way—but it was a really lovely break from reality.

A break that seems even more attractive today, when the post-vacation-and-short-week-with-sick-kids-and-lots-of-family-in-town craze gives way to the usual logistics that define my everyday.

Speaking of which…time to get the day underway.