Thrill Ride

Yesterday, deciding our vacation days were there to be used, Nick and I scheduled a day trip to Gurnee, IL—home of Six Flags Great America. I had never been to the park, never been on a roller coaster—I know you’re giving me a funny look. Everybody gives me a funny look when I tell them that and see me as though I have been living in a hole all my life.

Truth is, I was simply brought up to appreciate a lot in a little and we never went out LOOKING for fun in my young life—because it could be found all around if we had the right perspective. My father wouldn’t tolerate a whiner or a picky eater, so I’m pretty much as mellow as they come, and probably just as boring. Not that I think my father’s strictness was bad parenting—quite the opposite. The children of today, given power to set the conditions of family life, seem so ungrateful and frivolous. And LOUD. Anyway, my view of where our future is headed tucked in its little handbasket is a different post for, perhaps, a different day.

We arrived before the park opened. Nick, a seasoned thrill seeker, had me good and stoked to enjoy. He packed a picnic lunch for us the day before, complete with fresh peaches, Fig Newtons, and the Pringles with the lowest fat content of any of them there—even though it probably took him twice as long to shop that way, he knows I am a stickler for reading labels and wanted my day to be the most wonderful that it could possibly be.

As soon as the gates opened, he grabbed my arm and high-tailed it to Superman:Ultimate Flight while he explained in detail, again how cool it was going to be, how there isn’t any floor, how it feels like you’re flying. I asked him, again, not to talk about it because I, an Earth being, rather liked floors and knew that this bod wasn’t equipped to fly. Waiting briefly in line, he wanted to document that, indeed, I was tall enough to ride. Even if only just.

I watched from my place in the line as those before me were strapped in, as others returned with sparkley eyes and unabated laughter and took a deep breath when our turn came. This was my first thrill ride ever (What? You mean the swings don’t count!?), and I was duly nervous. I think I left my stomach there at the start only to pick it up again after the ride had finished, but no matter which way I alter the memory in my mind, I am pretty sure this picture tells it best:

To sum it up in one word? FUN.

And then it was on to this one—the Batman ride was a lot like the first for me, and I dropped my stomach off at the same spot as last time, only to collect it at the end, and I followed a whooping Nick on wobbly legs. I was having fun, but this was all very new to me. And then, we came to a ride that I didn’t get a good enough look at before I marched up the platform to join the queue.

WOOSH

The deafening sound of speed was punctuated regularly by screams and my heart started flopping around in my chest in a desperate plea to escape my body before I was stupid enough to board. Vertical Velocity was pure evil. I tugged his hand over the racket and told Nick with a trembling lower lip that I was going to sit this one out, that I didn’t think I could do this one. He looked down at me, crestfallen, and reassured, “Dear, it’s safe!” I shook my head. Didn’t wanna do it. Too scary. Couldn’t breath. Going to throw up. And, wow! I haven’t had an anxiety attack since Mom died! But, there you have it!

With my mind engaged in freaking out as it was, I am sure it was easy directing my body to the open seat…and when it hit home where I was, I tried not to cry.

WOOSH

It was friggin’ awesome.

And I think it made Nick’s day that I did not, in fact, keel over.

We went on many others…American Eagle, Demon, Giant Drop, Raging Bull, and Viper…descriptions can be found here. I tolerated them all considerably well, having already watched this other one and determining that I would not be going on that ride. No way. Uh uh.

And then I found myself in a confusing place, a place wherein I knew I wanted to be able to say the I rode them all, but yet, I so enjoyed having four functioning limbs…and you know, life. The line was long enough that we joined in at the end, and I figured I’d have plenty of time to turn back.

But the longer I stood there, the more it felt as though the contract had been signed, and I would feel like a coward if I backed out. Over and over again I heard the execution of Déjà Vu, the screams, the air slicing sound of intensity and I felt my heart threaten to walk out on me again. “No way!—I didn’t sign up for this,” it practically spat.

We got there. I bit my tongue and said nothing as we boarded. The ride began and lifted us almost 180 feet into the hair, so that my body was pointed to the ground and the harness was the only thing keeping me from Death…and then there was a pause. I whimpered and felt the tears burning at the back of my throat.

And then we descended. Slowly. They had us all get off so that they could do a safety check and I looked at Nick once we were safely behind the gates again and he knew that this was me at the verge of a meltdown. He hugged me and rubbed my back while I stood rocking, mute and trembly. “If they don’t fix it in 5 minutes, we’ll go,” he decided aloud. I prayed for a 6 minute turn-around time.

It was not to be, and we marched out to the ride once more, his hand gripping mine tightly, and I tried to suck it in to get my seat fastened even tighter, but no matter what I did, that hip bone wouldn’t move. Nick still had a grip on my hand, and he kept telling me to close my eyes if I needed to…and then we rose again, hitting the highest peak and then what felt like a free fall. I screamed, I couldn’t help it.

And then we hit the curve at the bottom, spinning up and around and around and it was pure glee. All at once the silliness of my fear hit me, and I spent the remainder of the ride laughing maniacally, giving Austin Powers‘ Dr. Evil a run for his money. The ride over, I was still laughing in an almost disturbing timbre while I unstrapped myself and followed a leaping Nick down the ramp. Nick likes to push me—which is good for me, good for anybody—but I think I scared him not once, but TWICE today that he had pushed too hard, and he was beyond relief that even though I was in mirthful hysterics at his heel, I was no longer two steps away from the other extreme.

We got to the landing and he grabbed my hand and hugged me, asking what I wanted to do now seeing as how we had hit all of the thrill rides. Sobering up, I looked at him directly and stated, “Beer.”

Sophie Sunday

She has such a personality these days—and while I won’t commit one way or another how I find it, I must say that it is entertaining. She’s quirky like me and clumsy like Nick…and vise versa, too. She loves French Onion Sun Chips and licks the butter from your toast if you leave it unattended. As we drift to sleep, the wall-mounted LCD on timer, she can often be found at the end of the bed, braced up on her front paws against the foot board, her ears perked forward to watch the CSI rerun.

She snubs broccoli—my über food—and turns in disgust while I kickbox. She finds my sweaty body scandalous and wastes no time in looking at me with eyes that place me in a cave with a pelt-toga and disgruntled extras from the Geico commercials. Her tail straightens up into a plume and she walks away, paying me and my evolutionarily retarded lifeform no mind. I imagine vividly that one day I will return to find her belly up in the recliner with Sun Chip crumbs nestled in her fur and remote under paw. To say the least, she has inherited our bad habits, taking in none of the good.

And though I am irritated that she won’t let me sleep past a certain point, I am secretly tickled that she wants to spend time with me—you know, after I’ve showered and scrubbed the broccoli stench from my breath—and I love those brief moments in the still of morning when she doesn’t want to play, she doesn’t want treats, and she doesn’t want to gnaw on the pet repellent pellets we put in the houseplants….when all that she does want, is me.