Ticket To Ride

One moment it’s just a peaceful walk down the Santa Cruz beach with two of my best girlfriends.  The sun is slipping towards the horizon, the gulls are out, and most of the beach-goers have gone home.  Thoughtful conversation bounces back and forth like a Brahms lullaby, and I am happy and content. Just a few more steps and I’ll be back at the house, glass of wine in hand, firmly and finally planted in a lounge chair to watch the sunset.  Sleepily, I move towards our peaceful haven.
Oh no. Not so fast.  Here come girlfriends two and three, grins blazing, heading for the Boardwalk.  Suddenly I’m climbing stairs, leaving my tranquil little happy zone to be slapped in the face by humanity.  Blaring carny rides, flashing lights, and the succulent smells of potato on a stick instantly awaken my senses.  And to my despair, tickets are waved in my face.  Yep, the Giant Dipper and I are about to meet, whether I like it or not.  There’s no turning back now.
We squish into line amongst the teenagers, twenty somethings – no ‘mature’ ladies in sight.  My heart pounds as I consider what is before me.  One of the oldest wooden rollercoasters in the west coast is about to do me in.  And having just confessed my lack of fear to my girlfriends the night before, now is definitely not the time to run crying back to the shore. I’m in it.  Televised images of those who have gone before taunt me.  I can’t do this.  I will die. Barf.  Fall out.  I’m only 5’2″-these things aren’t made for little people like me.  1/2 mile of track at 55 mph?  I’m doomed.
Girlfriends two and three, obviously trying to relive some long dead teenage dreams, insist on the front cars. Really?  Are you kidding me?  Reluctantly I climb in and search for the seatbelt, the foot rest, the shoulder brace-anything to keep me inside this rickety structure for the next minutes of eternity.
Ugh!  We jolt out of the gate with a start that would make any jockey lose their seating.  Into the dark tunnel we spin.  Ok. I can do this.  Not so bad….here we go uppppppp-that means we are going to come down…this is the part where I defy the laws of gravity and fall out of my seat, right?  This bar won’t hold me in…who the hell thinks this is fun anyways? AHHHHHHH!

SMACK!  My head crashes into the bar, back and forth, back and forth.  Up and down, side to side.  I am the ball in the pinball machine taking one hit after the next.  No time to take in the scenery from the top.  Eyes pressed shut, arms braced, my mind drifts back to the Lamaze exercises I learned in birthing class so long ago. Go to your happy place.  This too shall pass.  Only the strong survive.

 Really?  With one final grunt the car lurches to a stop.  Dazed, I climb out of the car and trip to the walkway, realizing that I had been holding my breath for the last two minutes of terror.  My ribs scream with pain as I make my way down and out like a drunken sailor.  I keep going, one foot then another, until I spill back onto the strand.  I’m in one piece.  I made it.
Gratefully I reenter the sand, happy to leave the lights behind me.  Suddenly I notice that the moon has risen, the tide has come in, and I breathe deeply.  As I climb the hillside toward home, the carnival lights dim and flicker out.  The Boardwalk has closed down, but I didn’t miss the ride.
Some say life is like a roller coaster, and today I would have to agree.  We never know what is around the next bend, or over the next hill.  But maybe really the question is are we just along for the ride?  Do you pay your dues, take your ticket and get on thinking you know what to expect?  Or do you hide at the entrance, sure you’re not strong enough, smart enough, or brave enough to take what’s thrown at you?
Now I know.  I’m grabbing the next ticket, racing to the front, and climbing aboard.  Only the strong survive, after all.
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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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16 thoughts on “Ticket To Ride

  1. Michael Ann says:

    I love Santa Cruz and The Big Dipper! The last time I was on that roller coaster was when I was in college and took a weekend trip to SC with girlfriends. Just like you. I loved your play by play description, I felt like I was on the ride with you. Great story! I’m glad you did it, don’t you feel good? And yes, life is surely a roller coaster….

    Loved the addition of the video. I will have to send that to my brother, as he is a huge Big Dipper fan!

    🙂

  2. mamawolfe says:

    Hi Desiree~Sweet of you to call it brave..I’m not sure that’s exactly what I was, but I sure gave it a whirl!
    Hi Susan~yes, the sand is more my style, too. Good to step out of the comfort zone once in awhile, though!
    Hi MA~ Thanks! After I got off I figured the least I could do was take some notes to write about it! Glad you like the video, too!

  3. Sarita says:

    I rode the Intimidator at Carowinds this summer and it was great! I had been told by people that riding a roller coaster after having babies was dangerous! I had as much of a blast as I had prior to. Visiting from vB! Great blog!

  4. Nekky says:

    Are you kidding me? I won’t be brave enough to ride on roller coasters again. I tried it last when I was some weeks pregnant and didn’t know. I continued throwing up for more than 3 days. I think the fear is still in me. Visiting from voiceBoks.

  5. mamawolfe says:

    Hi Cocoons-I’m with you on the dizzy stuff-for some reason, the wooden rollercoasters don’t make me sick. It’s the upside down ones that kill me!
    Hi ED-time for a ride! What are you waiting for?
    Hi Cheryl-I know what you mean! It’s good to have balance!
    Hi Nekky-I feel the fear…I can’t get over one ride at Magic Mountain in L.A. Never again.

  6. Laura@Catharsis says:

    Oh, you are so right that we never know what’s around the next bend. You know, I think of this often when I think about my younger son, the one who suffered the stroke in utero. People told us what we could expect, but he seems to be defying expectation, and that’s really awesome. We thought we’d be doing one thing, and we’re doing another. Spontaneity. Love it!

  7. Spilled Milkshake says:

    I’m the opposite of you – I can do all the freaky, upside down, backwards roller coasters in the world – but put me on a wooden one and I’m doomed. I think I was actually holding my breath just reading your account. Ugh!!

    Great writing!

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