Thursday, July 2, 2009
A Turn For The Worse
Yesterday, I met my cousin in Santa Cruz. We decided to ride the Giant Dipper. The eighty-five year old wooden roller coaster on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
I really didn't know what I was getting myself into, I had a bit of trepidation, but glancing at the historical posters detailing the ride, I thought 'no big whoop'. The speed was listed at a mild fifty-five miles per hour. I could handle this. It was eighty-five years old -for crying out loud.
From the first jerk I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew. Instantly you're whipped into a pitch black, dark tunnel. Instead of the usual slow, anxiety building climb that scares you silly but reassures you that it's all down hill from here; we were whisked into complete darkness twisted about, turned, churned and finally spit out to the sun.
Without even realizing it, I'd grabbed on to the seat in front of me, locked my elbows and was pushing with every muscle in my body attempting to press myself further into my chair. The coaster jerked and kicked, my eyes were shut tight and my mind reeled with the unexpectedness of it all.
Even though the ride appeared unassuming from the outside (by comparison to something like...oh, say- The Pacific Ocean), this was by far, the scariest roller coaster I had ever been on. And it seemed to go on forever. I remember noticing the people getting off before us. No one was white with fright. Puking from pure terror. A pooled up puddle of shrieking hysterics. All reactions I was mulling over as my life flashed before my eyes. What the hell was happening? And why wasn't it over yet? I gripped the seat in front of me tighter and pushed my arms out as hard as I could.
When the ride finally came to an end, they stopped the car 10 yards in front of the holding barn of others waiting to meet the same fate. I thought this was a ploy to allow people time to recover. Even with the pause I was completely speechless. Slowly, I unclenched my hands and turned to talk to my cousin. That's when it hit me -excruciating pain. Like a bolt of lightening shooting down the right side of my neck into shoulder and upper back. It's the kind of pain that makes you reconsider thinking nothing is worse than contractions. I was instantly stiff. One of those poor saps, that has to turn their whole body in order to see what's going on right beside them. And the salt in my wound, was that I did all of this in front of my twenty-two year old cousin.
How could I be so stupid, I thought. I knew that the locked arms and forceful bracing had played a part in the injury. 'Going with the flow' and 'enjoying the ride' never entered my mind. I was faced with the unexpected and instinctively my intention was to hold on as tight as I could, open my eyes for a brief bit every once in awhile and just make it to the end. And where did that get me?
In a world of pain.
I slowly walked to my car. Concerned about how I was going change lanes during the long freeway drive home with what was sure to be a bona-fide case of whiplash. I thought about my tight fisted reaction, the way I'd resisted ever movement of the amusement and wondered if the whole experience was a metaphor for how I live my life.