This weekend I visited King’s Island with my little brother, Alex. In the above video you can listen to my thoughts on riding roller coasters at 32 or read the essay below.
There’s a slight disconnect between the essay and the video. I wrote the essay about our first ride of the day – the Vortex. The video is from the Beast and is more than a bit shaky. The Beast is the roughest roller coaster I’ve ever been on. As Alex put it, “The Beast is a 3-minute 40-second car crash.”
Over the Hill
The train ratchets up the hill and I have one question on my mind, “Am I too old for this?”
It doesn’t really matter. I can turn around and see where I was, how low I’ve been. But at this point there’s no going back.
There’s the sky and the trees and the going up, up, up.
There’s also Alex. Alex is my little brother with Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I try talking to him, but he’s focused, lost is a world of unrealized fear.
The potential fear grows by the second. Every foot we gain, we have more to lose.
I remember being here when I would be checked at the “You must be taller” sign. I remember how the adults – serious people in their 30s – would talk about how they could no longer ride. They hurt too much, or it made them sick.
When does that happen?
I’m thinking about being an adult, about being a dad, about mortality, responsibility, about growing up, and about not throwing up. I’m thinking about ups and downs – the kind of stuff that hums in our minds 24/7.
Over the hill, and I let go and lift my hands in the air. Alex does the same. Not a care in the world. No doubts. No responsibility, just the air running its fingers through our hair and our fingers running through the air.
Loops and corkscrews could be metaphors for something, I’m sure of it, but I don’t care. They’re there and Alex and I zip through them at 80 miles per hour.
We do the funny handshake Alex invented. We laugh. We holler at the riders in front of us, who holler back. We don’t know them. We didn’t talk to them before and we won’t talk to them after. But we are nameless friends for 40 seconds.
We smile for the camera after the last corkscrew. We look at each other our faces twisted by G-forces, every smile muscle firing. I’m thirteen again.
Getting older doesn’t have to mean growing up. Sure, be responsible, but let yourself go, find pure joy, put your butt down on the Vortex, the Beast, the Diamondback, put it somewhere it doesn’t belong and enjoy the ride.
Put your stomach in the hands of physics and defy gravity. Fly through some engineer’s calculations and do that thing you are too old to do.
Life is a roller coaster, but don’t let your life (or metaphors) ruin the ride.
Let go, if only for a moment.