Very recently I went on roller coaster ride. Hardly an amazing feat but one that is worthy of a least a moment of discussion. You see, I haven’t been on a roller coaster since the late eighties. Sure, I’ve been on a few amusement park rides this millennium but now even the kiddie rides make me feel sick. It’s frustrating watching the kids and my husband from the sidelines, waving, while they were having a blast. I longed to be part of that experience. I wanted the fun. And quite frankly, it made me feel old.
This year, we bought season’s passes to Canada’s Wonderland. I figured I’d go on a few rides like White Water Canyon, which is a tube ride down a river and maybe a haunted house if they had one. And that would be about it. But as soon as we pulled into the parking lot that first time, I saw the metal frame of The Leviathan looming overhead like the legs of a giant skeleton, and was immediately drawn to it. The ride exits the park and covers part of the parking lot and entrance way. And each time a train full of screaming passengers passed over-head as we stood in line, I knew what I had to do. I had to go on The Leviathan.
This was back in May. It took me until October to work up the courage. But I was determined to do it. Like I said, it was something I had to do. But why? Why did I think I needed to subject myself to three minutes of sheer terror and perhaps an embarrassing moment over a garbage can? I think it has a lot to do with me now being in my forties. I wanted to prove to my kids, but especially to myself, that I could still seek a thrill, that I could also be considered the “fun” parent, and that I could be fearless. That I could do the same things I did as a teenager. That I wasn’t old.
So I guess my decision to go on The Leviathan was two-fold. First, to prove I could still do the things the younger-me did and second, to show myself that I could still try new things (you know, teaching an old dog new tricks).
As it turns out, I was so terrified I pretty much went numb. My legs trembled when I stood up to exit the ride. However, I did it. I didn’t embarrass my son and I didn’t feel sick. In fact, I felt pretty damn good about myself. So good in fact I went on three more rides. I was going to go hard or go home.
By the time we did go home, I was ready to puke. I climbed into bed to sleep it off like a bad hangover. But at least I did it.
I’ve never been that focused on my age but since that milestone 40th birthday two years ago, I’ve found myself to be a little more introspective. A little more self-critical. And I know I’m not alone. You reach 40 and you’re officially in mid-life. You can’t help but ask yourself those big philosophical questions: Am I the person I want to be? Have I achieved my goals? My dreams? What’s next? Will the Leafs win the Stanley Cup in my lifetime? (that one is Toronto-centric but a real question for many of us here). What kind of role model am I for my kids?
What does that have to do with a roller coaster, you ask. Well (aside for the obvious analogy of the “ups and downs” of life) I hope I have proven to myself and my kids that I am still full of surprises, I am open to new things, and not afraid to still take a chance or two (even if that means potentially embarrassing myself). I want them to see that life is for living, not sitting on the sidelines, waving. And well, if that lesson took a mind-blowing 80 degree plummet from 306ft at a top speed of 93mph, then so be it.
I just hope they remember it because I will never EVER do it again.