I wasn't expecting to break down crying yesterday. Yet, there I was — sobbing with happiness while I watched a live stream from nine time zones away, in a language I don't understand.
The broadcast? The live premiere of Efteling's new version of its Aquanura night-time fountain show, now set to the music of Dutch singer Guus Meeuwis. This special edition will run at the park through November 15, in honor of Meeuwis' 25 years performing.
Meeuwis was at the park to kick off the debut of the special edition, which is called "Aquanura, met een zachte G." Apparently, that's a play on Meeuwis' concert series, "Groots met een zachte G," which Google translates to "Big with a soft G." Which, in turn, shows why the phrase "lost in translation" exists, because "big" doesn't start with a G in English, soft or not.
No matter. With no theme parks open in my home state of California, and with no night-time spectaculars playing at Disney or Universal in Florida, I just wanted to watch a big theme park show again — live and in real time. So I sat through the interviews in Dutch, wondering what the deal was with that gold ball, waiting for the moment when the lights would dim, the music would start, and the water would soar through the air.
When that happened, I just lost it. By the time I heard the melody of J.S. Bach's Minuet in G Major within Meeuwis' "Brabant" during the show's finale, I was a blubbering mess.
Aquanura is a fine show, and though I had not heard of Meeuwis before yesterday, I found his music lovely. But under normal circumstance, I doubt the combination of these two would have elicited much more than a perfunctory smile from me. I've seen a lot of night-time shows, after all.
But these are not normal circumstances.
Efteling's live stream took me back mentally to every one of those night-time shows I've sat or stood to watch in theme parks around the world. And that made me imagine the next time I will see a big night-time show in a crowded theme park somewhere.
I have no idea where that will be, or more importantly, when. But I suspect that when the lights dim and the first notes of music play, everyone around me — including me — will absolutely lose it.
The stress of this pandemic is real. And millions of people will continue to suffer post-traumatic stress symptoms once the pandemic is past. But one way to start the emotional recovery from this stressful time is to stop holding back the emotions and just let them fly — like water through the air in theme park fountain show.
It's not time yet in the United States for theme parks to bring thousands of people together for a shared moment like that. But the time will come — I believe that. And yesterday, listening to Guus Meeuwis and watching the lights and fountains from Efteling, I discovered exactly how I will react when it does.
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