If you name this movie quote without Google, I’ll kiss you full on the mouth: “I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”
I think I get that now. Or, I’m getting that. Speaking of which, Des learned to ride a bike yesterday! As he said to me, “It’s true what you said, Mama. It really does feel like flying!”
Is there a perfect age? For me? For them? The answer is that all of them are perfect, and none of them are as well. If time is not linear, then they’re really all just flying through and in and out of the universe, bits and pieces of imperfect perfection. What we hold onto, and what we let go.
I’ve definitely talked about this in the past, and present, and will in the future, but I’ve had a lifelong roller coaster phobia. And it’s not like it’s been for many people my age, having loved roller coasters as a kid – or at least having experienced them – and are only now weaning off of them. Or avoiding them altogether! Or maybe people still like them into adulthood, but in that way you do after years of loving how something makes you feel. Some sensations never get old.
Five years ago, heck, four years ago, even a kiddie coaster scared me. And I’m not talking about the family friendly coasters that do provide mild (or moderate to severe, if you’re me) thrills. I’m talking about the rickety ones at fairs that don’t even give you a tiny tickle in your stomach! I’ve been on a few log flume type rides, and I always thought the roller coaster feeling was that – a tickle in your stomach, and maybe even severe. Butterflies flapping and stretching their wings.
Of course, like with most things, I didn’t know the roller coaster feeling until I finally felt it. With some sort of chemistry and timing on our side in Disney World, of all places (the most magical place on earth), it happened. The family was going on The Barnstormer (yes, it’s often people’s first roller coaster and I am no exception). After 35 YEARS of resisting, I just.. didn’t. No hesitation. I just followed them all on that ride, to all of their surprise. I followed four-year-olds onto that ride, experiencing their first coaster, but I wasn’t ashamed. It was like I was a child.
I won’t tell you it was amazing, because it was awful. Just awful. “That?” I yelled, after whirling around a train track for 30 seconds. “THAT, is the roller coaster feeling?” You can all have it, I thought. I always figured it was a stomach feeling – and I didn’t know it was your head and your body spinning while your brain and soul get rattled. I guess no one told me. Maybe they tried.
We had FastPasses for Mine Train, and it was the first year Des was tall enough for it. I had loved hiding behind his youth as an excuse for not going on rides with Scarlet and Cassidy, but that stopped working. There was an impossible wait time then, and even now. It’s pretty much a given that if you have a FastPass for it, you use it! No one would hear of me skipping Mine Train even after I shouted, “..but I did it! I faced my phobia! I hated it! I’m done for life!” They led me to the second row, and I silently followed, feeling like I was headed to a guillotine. We took off.
My soul and heart and brain were rattled in their cages, until something happened to change me. We came out of the tunnel at the right place at the right time, just before the biggest drop, and we saw an exquisite Florida sunset. Cassidy turned around from the front row and we all shouted, “Suuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnn!” Before our voices and our breaths were taken away from us down that drop. I was shaking at the bottom, but it was not from fear. It was from liberation.
The roller coaster feeling hadn’t changed. If anything it was much worse on this one. It had nothing to do technical specifics – I had changed. In the blink of an eye and a gasp of breath.
I went on two more after that, and have ridden the same ones multiple times. A few weeks ago, I went on my fifth new roller coaster at Six Flags. First we sat in the front row which is always scenically fun, but an entirely different feeling than the last row. We decided to go again and sit in the back row, while Cassidy and Des went on another ride. I was scared. And really, I always am. “Don’t worry – it can’t fall off of the tracks,” she said, not unkindly. She couldn’t have known that my phobia was never about falling off the tracks. It wasn’t about logic. It was about the roller coaster of life, carrying me up and away and through some uncomfortable twists and turns, and what if I don’t like the swirling feelings? What if I can’t get off? What if it won’t stop?
The back row was an entirely different ride from the front. “Oh!” I yelled at that first drop that hadn’t been a drop at all from the front row. “This is different!” I shrieked and fell into her. “Throw your arms in the air!” She shouted into the wind and the whipping. And so, I did.
She’s 10. Maybe 10 is the perfect age and maybe today is the perfect day, because I have a daughter with the emotional fortitude to help me through something that scares me, and it’s not because she sees me as weak. I think she sees me as brave and honest, and knows when I need a little support, in the same ways I’ve supported her through first steps and first bike rides.
They’re both the perfect ages, and I’m the perfect age, and today is the perfect day, and if you ask me the same question one year or five years from now, and if you had asked me it one or five years ago, I’d probably have the same answer. Every age of theirs and mine, where we can intuitively and intrinsically reach for one another, and hold each other up. Hold each other close.
Remember everything she said, when only memory remains.”
I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday (FTSF) for another challenging prompt. This week’s topic is “My favorite age..” And there’s time to write yours. Link up your post HERE.