Thursday, September 4, 2008

About a coaster ride

The graceful arc of steel track against a blue sky.

The should-we-or-shouldn't-we, is-an-hour-too-long-to-wait conversation.

Nah. We hear it's worth it.

Standing. Standing Standing. Shuffle. Shuffle.

Idle talk and chatter. Eavesdropping on the next queue over.

Reading the signs posted along the way. (Persons with heart conditions should not ride this ride.) (If you are wearing earrings you must take them off.)

Wondering about the condition of my heart, and putting my hoops in my wallet.

Setting little goals as we creep along: We'll be at the next corner in five minutes. The spot by the posts in seven minutes. Near the stairs in four minutes.

Trying to ignore that we have to go to the restroom.

Listening to the coaster as it runs the track, over and over again, a rumbling rhythm punctuated by screams and applause at the end.

Starting to wonder if it will ever be our turn, as we turn and turn in the endless maze, even as we near the end.

All that waiting, then it happens so fast: One last decision, which seat line to enter. The middle looks good.

Next on. A gate opens and shuts.

Following some business major's instructions: Put your belongings in the bin. Fasten your seat belt, pull your shoulder harness down, make sure it's latched.

A future teacher double-checks the belt and harness and it's thumb's up, enjoy your ride and thank you for visiting Cedar Point, ride on.

A short pause, just one breath, and we're flung up a hill--and all of the peninsula filled with coasters, and the azure bay, and the small city beyond spread before us, brilliantly sharp in the August sun.

At the top, here's just a moment between blinks to look--the sky, the sailboats, the sea gulls--and we're launched through a rock-n-roll, up-then-down, upside-down, speed-racer, mile-long, air-time, dark-tunnel, photo-flash who-is-that-screaming-oh-wait ... it's me.

Hard brakes, one last scream that ends in a laugh. Everybody claps.

Welcome back, riders, did you enjoy your ride? asks the future teacher.

Hell yes. Queue me up again.

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