Friday, August 31, 2018

Thanks For The Ride

At the top of the hill, my older brother told me to put my hands in the air and close my eyes. The request did not seem out of line, given that we were on the brink of plunging into the darkness of the last ride of the night on Mister Twister. Lightning flashed all around us and I could see that faint shimmer as I complied, hands in the air. And just when the bottom fell out, as we began that first great acceleration that would take us on the rest of our ride, my brother grabbed my hands as we rolled with that coaster into oblivion.
Or close to it. Apparently, we were the ones who made it back from the brink. We had skated close to the place where the ice gives way, and returned. No heart failure, in spite of the warnings given on the signs hanging on the fence leading to our eventual plunged into the two minutes of uncertainty, even though we had memorized every shift and turn on Mister Twister.
Which explains the need for closed eyes and hands held back above one's head.
It was my older brother that educated me in the ways of the Tilt-A-Whirl. We would stand there, queued up and searching for the car that had the most grease. Which one would benefit most from the shifting of weight from side to side as the platform rocked us up and down? Which one would be the best ride? We took this same ethos to the Tea Cups in Disneyland. We sought out the one with the loose wheel, the one that would spin as furiously as possible.
"It's that inner ear thing," he once explained to me.
Of course he was right. He had spent the years ahead of me searching for those moments when gravity was optional, when the thrill could still be squeezed out of the moment. It should be pointed out that while we seemed reckless and dangerous, we were still frightening ourselves within the boundaries of safety. This was the part that always surprised me. None of what we were doing was breaking the rules. We found our adventures within the bounds of (mostly) common sense.
Now we teach these tricks to our children. We tell them stories about all the times we were sure we weren't going back again.
And what a ride it was.

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