I will never forget my 10th birthday. As one of four siblings, our birthday celebrations were usually family affairs, but not number 10! I remember vividly my parents telling me I could invite 3 friends to the movies. I was beside myself. I decided we would go see Popeye The Sailor Man, a musical starring Robin Williams. As I sat in the theater, feeling like a princess with my popcorn AND soda AND friends AND family, the matinée commenced.
I will never forget the enchanting set from the movie. I said to my 10-year-old self, someday I will see Sweethaven Village. At the time, I did not know it was literal. I think the big screen and the images it brought into my life always inspired new desires in me. That day in the theater came thundering back to me last week Malta as our bus driver said, “Now passing Popeye’s Village.
The set and scene from the 1980 film Popeye the Sailor Man.” WHAT did he say? It can’t be. I scrambled over people as the double-decker bus driver came over the loud-speaker to tell me to sit down on the upper deck. Nothing was going to obstruct my view. There it was. It was truly more beautiful than I could have imagined.
Nestled in a grotto filled, crystal clear bay, the fully preserved movie set. It was not the set that gave me the chills but the idea that I set this idea in motion, in a daydream during my 10th birthday party, and like a mirage, it was right in front of me. The waves crashed over the bulkhead as “Popeye the Sailor Man” blared from the speakers and I feverishly instructed my family that we were getting off the bus.
Once we were on solid ground, I had a moment to really appreciate how powerful childhood dreams are and how incredible it is to want something and then to detach from it and to trust that it will come in time. I did not know at 10 years old where the movie was filmed, or what about it made me want to go there, but I know for certain that I did not arrive at that place by accident. Those are the moments that give me the strength to keep dreaming.