Like a lot of kids, I watched a lot of Disney movies growing up. I still remember seeing The Lion King in theaters, and acting out Pocahontas with my sister when we watched it at home over and over. I saw Mulan in theaters twice — once with my dad, who almost never took us to the movies but actually seemed to enjoy that one. My mom always liked Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, so those were in heavy rotation at our house, and Aladdin was a big hit when I was young. But my personal favorite was always The Little Mermaid.
What amazes me most about that movie is that all the things I liked about it when I was a kid still hold true today. I liked that Ariel was a daydreamer who didn’t want to stay put. She had this crazy collection of exotic finds from the human world, which she used incorrectly because her dealer was an eccentric seagull. So she brushed her hair with a fork. That was all right with me. Maybe she was a little obsessive in collecting things from the world of humans, but I always liked that she had a secret space all her own for that sort of stuff. She wanted to travel and experience life in another place, another culture, from a new perspective.
I’ve done similar things in my own life. Besides being a little obsessive about my interests, I love traveling and living in other places. When I was 19, I moved far away from home to experience a new city and lifestyle, which was kind of terrifying at that age but ended up being a life-changer. And I’m still a daydreamer. That’s part of what makes me a geek.
But it’s got me wondering whether I always related to the character Ariel, or if it happened the other way around. Maybe The Little Mermaid actually had a really big influence on me, and that’s why I love Ariel so much even today. From watching that movie, I learned that imagination is good. Daydreaming is good. Getting to know other kinds of people is good. And being passionate about other places and foreign things is something that can lead to real adventures, even if not everybody understands why you have that impulse at first.
Even though I loved so many Disney movies growing up, I rarely re-watch them now that I’m an adult. My biggest exception is The Little Mermaid. That’s the Disney movie that still, to this day, feels most like me.