I Wasn’t Bored, I Was Just Trying to Live

I’m cheating a little and starting this post Thursday evening while Leah takes the kids to get back-to-school haircuts. They’ve had an extra-long summer break from school, which allowed us to take a trip to Six Flags last week when every other kid, seemingly, was already in school.

I don’t know how long it has been since my last visit to Six Flags. I really don’t even remember parking – or even who drove – that trip. Did we take Brandon’s Altima? I don’t know. I don’t remember walking in to the park. I do remember that we stayed for about 9 hours and, due to long lines and getting stuck on a ride for what seemed like an hour, we only rode four rides.

That wasn’t the case this time. The longest wait we had – save the 30 minutes we waited for chicken fingers – was about 15 minutes for the Superman ride. Later in the day we walked along the path and right on to Mindbender, like we were at a private party or something.

The kids loved it. Jack ended up riding Superman 3 times. It was his favorite. Layne liked Wonder Woman Flight School, Monster Mansion, and the Joker House rollercoaster. She was too short for a lot of the thrill rides. Lucky her.

I’m not really a big fan of thrill rides. I’m not sure that I’ve ever been. I don’t really like heights, or going fast, or doing loops. Still, I like to ride rollercoasters but, as I’ve gotten older, I get dizzy and the dizziness lasts for an hour or so after the ride ends. Maybe my crystals are broken.

When faced to ZERO wait time, though, I didn’t have long to stand and worry about how sick and dizzy the ride would make me feel. So, some time after lunch, we walked up to a ride named Goliath. David killed Goliath. I did not.

Jack, who benefited tremendously from the parent swap because he got to ride everything once with Leah and then again with me, decided he wanted no part of Goliath. He’s a smart boy, but we wanted him to try something outside of his comfort zone.  We told him that we would ride Goliath first and, depending on how “thrilling” it was, he could ride it with one of us next. He stayed with his sister just outside the ride’s exit while Leah and I rode.

Goliath isn’t your traditional train car style rollercoaster. For Goliath, you sit down in a open-air style car, and a single, not all that substantial padded bar comes down at your waist and, you hope, secures you in the seat. I wanted a seatbelt as a second securing mechanism, but the ride designers must have decided that was unnecessary.

Before I really knew it, Leah and I were on the ride with the padded bar lowered to us. We were riding this ride.

As we pulled out of the station, I looked over at Jack and Layne and said to them outwardly, and to myself inwardly, “we’ll be right back,” hoping the last thing that I said to them wouldn’t be a lie.

The first part of the trip is straight up a hill. The afternoon sun was overhead and directly in my eyes as we climbed the hill. About halfway up, the skyline of Atlanta appeared to the east. It’s a beautiful city from afar.

And then, after we reached the top of the hill, we dropped down the other side at 14 million miles an hour. That is no lie. The momentum raised me out of the seat and pushed me against the padded bar. I really wanted a seatbelt. I weighed 153 pounds when I ran marathons. I don’t run marathons anymore. Fat Jammy is putting too much pressure on whatever locking mechanism is holding the padded bar in place! Near the bottom of the first hill I thought, some nice person will stay with the kids until the grandparents can get here. Maybe take them to a Braves game while they wait.

Up another hill and around a curve and the dreaded loop. All the while, all my weight is pressed against the padded bar. I’m still not actually in the seat – or, at least, it doesn’t feel like I am.

There were elephants and bears and fireworks and can-can dancers, or there could have been. I don’t know. My eyes were closed. I won’t give death the satisfaction of seeing the look in my eyes when it comes for me.

With my eyes closed I tried to control my breathing. I loosened the death grip that I had on the handles of the padded bar. I tried to relax my neck and shoulders and just move with the ride. Around another curve. Through the corkscrew. Down another giant hill that bottomed out a few feet above a fake lake. I opened my eyes a couple of times just to see where we were.

About a minute in to the ride I was, finally, somewhat acclimated to it and I opened my eyes to determine when it would be over. I could see that, though we had a couple of hills and curves left, we were in the general vicinity of the station. “It’ll be over soon,” I said out loud. “Are you telling me or yourself,” Leah responded.

Myself.

After a couple more minor curves, we pulled in to the station and I saw our sweet little children standing there. The look on my face must have told Jack that he would not have to ride Goliath. He just slowly shook his head no as we pulled to a stop.

The padded bar raised and I slid from the seat like a drunk sailor. I stepped from the car and walked to the exit. At the bottom of the exit ramp is a photo counter where you can purchase a picture taken of you on the ride, and we found our photograph on the wall. Leah was mid-laugh or mid-scream, eyes wide-open, embracing the thrill. I looked like I could have been right at home in a casket at Ridout’s Roebuck location.

“You look like you’re bored,” Leah said.

I wasn’t bored, I was just trying to live.

School starts Wednesday for the kiddos. We’ve had an eventful summer and I’m kind of looking forward to the routine of a school year. We’re going to keep an eye open for the last Friday that Six Flags is open next year, though, because it was fun trip. Elephants and bears and all.

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