My heart goes pitter patter for a few seconds as we walk up to the ticket window at Cedar Point. I know I'm going to have to live up to the commitment I brazenly made in my last post. I can't imagine going on the first ride the fellows select—a pair of yellow towers seemingly seventy stories high that corkscrew straight up, then back down again. The second is just as bad, shooting up straight up a tower, then straight down the other side.

On the third coaster of the day, the Magnum XL 2000, I decide to just do it. I don't look at the track. Whatever it is, I'll do it. I settle into the seat next to Tosh, buckle up, and check out the hand grips.

“Grandma, I hope you can hang on.”

“Hang onto what, my breakfast?”

“No. A bar or something,” says this sage eleven-year-old. His concern is touching.

“You better believe I'll be hanging on!” I say, reassuring myself as much as him.

I do a quick scan for apprehension and feel surprisingly calm. Just then the cars start to move, beginning a climb up a slope that reaches beyond the range of my vision. I breathe deeply, look out at the landscape unfolding beneath our rapidly ascending perch, and hear people begin to scream. I'm still calm — this is preferable to thinking ahead!

We pause for a fraction of a second and suddenly I'm hurtling straight down, holding on for dear life. I scream because it's what you do. And I feel like screaming. It's not scary, but it is disorienting. The only thing I'm actively afraid of is being shaken to death. I feel like I'm on a buckboard racing across the Pony Express track. My head jerks in every direction as we go up, down, and around curves at 45ยบ angles. An instant headache quickly escalates to a full throb, threatening to burst open and spew my brains all over the island. Up, down, around. We keep screaming along the track. Every muscle in my body is clenched, trying to hold my body together to avoid major damage.

In a mercifully short period of time, we pull back to the dock. I hop out with no sense of triumph. I'm too busy trying to relax my neck, hoping to ease the throbbing in my head, and the warning signals from a mildly twisted lumbar region.

I survived riding the Magnum XL 2000 in background.
Compared to many others, this is a kiddy park ride!

I decide I could ride again. I could ride anything in the park. I'm no longer afraid. I'm not afraid of surviving, even surviving sheer plunges of hundreds of feet, or the most severe loops. I can even imagine enjoying the experience. But I am afraid of the pain it's likely to entail. My body is no longer as forgiving as it was thirty or forty years ago.

In a flash, I realize that I no longer have anything to prove. I could do it. That's enough. I don't have to endure further pain to prove that. I declare myself the official photographer of our expedition, silently bless Cedar Point for their compassionate Senior Citizen admission fee, and feel victorious. This day is a milestone in my life, but not for the reason I expected.

Write now: about a personal victory over fear. Did it have a surprise ending? What about pain? Does that deter you? How do you adapt to the aging of your body and newly discovered limitations?


Pat's Place said...

My first thought was about whiplash and the alignment of one's spine. Mercy! A roller coaster ride would be a blessing for my chiropractor!

Ritergal said...

That's exactly why I cut my coaster career short! Fortunately no lasting damage was done. Some things about aging bodies are bummers. This is one of the no-never-minds. How often does it matter whether I can ride a roller coaster?

Lydia said...

Finally I have found a network of people who write down their memories. How fantastic. I started a blog a while ago, writing down memories from my childhood leading to present times. This was for creative writing's sake, and a hopeful attempt to never forget my memories as well as becoming better at remembering them. The blog started out as a memory a day for a year sorta thing. Eventually being a full time wife and mum slowed my progress.
I'll check back often to read...

-Lydia H.

Ritergal said...

Lydia, welcome. I took a quick look at your blogs (she has four!). Lots of good stuff there. Your gourmet brain makes me too hungry.

How great that you are writing down your memories while they are fresh! You mention finding a network. I hope you'll either go back to the main page of this blog, or just click over to the Life Writers Forum and join this fantastic warm community of memoir and lifestory writers. Our common interest knows no boundaries, age, gender, nationality, handedness, none of this stuff matters. We are all about writing!

Everyone is invited.