Yesterday I went back to our local amusement park, Six Flags, with my two girls. Growing up, I loved roller coasters; I remember riding the ShockWave with one of my favorite Aunts over and over again. (1) It’s a double-loop roller coaster and it was the coolest thing since sliced-bread growing up. Amazing speeds, quick adrenaline rush, careless fun – pure enjoyment. Couldn’t get enough of it… I didn’t even mind the lines.
Time does what it’s supposed to… it marched on. I grew up, had children, entered the ‘working world of the responsible’ and became aware of things like value of time, risk & the comfort of control. I vowed to stay off motorcycles and would unnecessarily worry about the relative safety of roller coasters. After all, did you hear that story about the kid on the roller coaster who dropped the quarter… I could still have fun at the park; but it was measured, deliberate.. it wasn’t the same.
I stopped looking at roller coasters the way I used to. Time continued it’s march & my babies weren’t anymore. They were old enough to ride roller coasters & had tons of fun with their Father who had taken them often the summer before. This year? My turn. Spring Break rolled around & I figured the four-pack season’s passes might be a way my girls, my then-boyfriend & I could all have some fun together. It was the first time I can actually remember not having fun at the Park. The things I had previously become aware of – value of time, risk, comfort of control – they took center-stage that day & sucked the fun clean out of it for me. If I had to guess, it sucked a lot of fun out of it for all of us.
There were glistening moments of fun; but in my opinion they were fleeting. In response, I thought I could hold the situation tight enough that I could make us all have fun. Wow. We bounced from line-to-line; Chris & I did a lot of waiting for the girls to finish riding rides we didn’t want to because we? Were “Grown-Ups” and we didn’t want him to hurt his back. Double wow. (2) I think I -might- have ridden a coaster; but I don’t remember for certain. I know the ShockWave was closed.
I skipped going over the summer and just took the girls/friends. I’d sit and work or visit a nearby client while they rode coasters & had a good time. I didn’t even remember what I was missing anymore.
Yesterday, I took the girls & one of their friends to Six Flags for “Fright Night” – the park’s Halloween festivities. When I got there, I concede I was a little apprehensive. I wondered if I’d be able to ‘let loose’ enough for us to all have fun – especially since the kids were CRANKY when we got there since traffic had been horrid. But, on we went. Our first ride was the “Superman: Tower of Power” ride – a tower that shoots riders up & then drops them over 150-feet at a speed in excess of 50mph. The last thing I remember about this ride was reading in Feb about a girl who had previously had her feet severed on it (different park) & spent the day coming up with excuses as to why I didn’t need to do it. This time, however; I wanted to experience the rides with my girls – have fun with them… so, I did it.
It was an uncomfortable fun – the woman who has worked so hard to be in control of her world? Was NOT in control for that minute or so. Then there was a realization that we were up HIGH; for a fraction of a second the “what coulds” flashed through my head and then? I just crossed my dangling feet, closed my eyes, and let myself go.
Wooosh. Hmmm…. Kinda fun.
The Shock Wave, my childhood favorite, was up next. That nervous need for control bubbled up again as we started out; I chastised the kids when they talked about not keeping their hands & such in the car. After all, it IS a 33-year-old coaster; we should probably follow instructions, right? As we hung over the cliff of the coaster; my eldest, Lindsey, just looked at me and laughed. “Mom, this is supposed to be fun.”
Smart girl. I pushed aside the worry & breathed… deeply. Let everything drop – for a second. And it hit me how much things in our life have real similarities to the roller coaster ride. Job searches, career progressions, relationships… LIFE. So, I’m going to be exploring this over the next week; hope you enjoy it!
By the way, in case you were wondering? I rode both the Shockwave & Superman a second time yesterday…. with my hands out and eyes open… just taking it all in… enjoying both the ride and the view.
(1) I remember being a little freaked out feeling like I was going to fall out one time going upside-down when I didn’t tighten the seat belt tight enough once, too… but Aunt Gay had me covered.
(2) Pretty sure the best part of that day was a video that he made afterwards… which, come to think of, we don’t even have a copy of!