Driving to Milwaukee on the weekends was always a treat. I grew up in the suburbs so going to the “land of tall buildings” and seeing Lake Michigan was amusing. When I was younger my dad and I would take a cruise to The Lakefront and ride our bikes up and down the trails. We would often go past the North Point Water Tower which I renamed “Cinderella’s Castle” because clearly it was like no other water tower and resembles what I had seen in story books.
One weekend, after driving to Milwaukee, my dad parked high upon the hill by Cinderella’s Castle. We hopped on our bikes, riding through the winding residential streets until we got to Lake Drive, where we took the big hill down past Bradford Beach. It was a nice, sunny day and we tooled around until the late afternoon. When we headed back we were faced with a decision, were we going to ride our bikes back up the hill to where our car was parked or walk? Well, my dad decided that we were just going to walk up the hill. Now, when I say walk up the hill I do not want you to imagine pushing your bike along side a road. Instead we climbed up the steep, grassy hillside. I was about 9 years old and my bike was significantly larger than me. I tried to push it up but the dried dirt did not provide much traction so I kept looking down for holes that I could dig my foot into or rocks that I could step on to lift me up. I kept stumbling until I reached the top and when I did I was relieved. Eventually we got to the sidewalk and we both decided that maybe that was not the best idea, but it was already over with.
When my mom came home from work I told her about our day downtown. Of course I described how I had to climb up the hill, carrying my bike and how difficult it was. My dad claimed that he did it to teach me some sort of life lesson about overcoming challenges and that I could do it if I put my mind to it, but I wasn’t buying it.
That day has been an inside joke ever since. For example, in high school I made a Father’s Day card that read “Some girls dream of becoming a princess living in a castle….but you made me climb the hill instead” and on the front I had a picture of the real castle from Disney World and on the inside a picture of the water tower. Even though it was silly, that day left a lasting impression on me.
A few years later, after I had finished college and started my first “real” job, I had a bit of a rough time adjusting. One day I saw a quote in someone’s email signature from Dr. Seuss stating “You’re off to great places, today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so…get on your way!” I thought of how I had to “climb that hill” and of our running joke. After work that day I went out to Target to buy “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” and read through all of the advice it delivers. Thinking back, maybe my dad had a point or maybe it was dumb luck, but whenever I come across the real obstacles in my life, I think of Cinderella’s Castle.