Every summer when I was a kid was spent at amusement parks. We went to Six Flags Magic Mountain the most and Knott’s Berry Farm came in second. There’s sweet nostalgia in the biting smell of chlorinated water, the burn of heated oil frying funnel cakes, and the clank and roar of a roller coaster loaded with excitement.
We would go in groups and make sure we were able to ride together, asking strangers to ride ahead of us. We were in large groups, playing hothands or slide in line as we would laugh and gossip and talk about cute boys. Sometimes we would split off to ride different rides, and meet up for lunch at a designated spot and time. It was an endless day of rides, plotting our day in a progression across the park, acre by acre, ride by ride, greasy treat followed by too much sugar. And water rides. The water rides were a morning, noon and night treat because in the morning and at night the lines were short, and at midday, we talked and got sunburns and didn’t mind waiting two hours for a ride that lasted less than five minutes.
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” – Carl JungI was given about $40 and I had to really consider if food was more important than an airbrushed shirt. All day in line with a cute boy and hand holding was different from back in the real world where we had friends that watched closer and had opinions. I still remember a ride on Free Fall at Magic Mountain with a cute boy holding my hand and giving it a squeeze right when we dropped and for the first time really yelling on a ride because I generally smile and enjoy the drops and turns. He was flipping his baseball cap on and off his head with the visor and his hair was slicked back like a helmet. His name was Manny. He changed the experience that day.
“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”—Kate Chopin, “The Awakening”
Yesterday I took kid3 to Knott’s Berry Farm. His older brothers were at Anime Expo with their Dad so we had a mother and son date weekend. Age has done some wicked things to my body and things feel different. They look different. There was a determination to make the day one where my son could just be a kid. It happened on our way into the park when I was telling him that my last trip was before I had kids when I went with my Dad. Knott’s honors our Veterans with free admission around Veteran’s Day. My son wanted to go then so it wouldn’t cost me. It was then that I realized he was so concerned about having enough that I wasn’t allowing him to be a child. He was worried about money. Before we set foot inside the park, I looked him in the eye and said the only thing he needed to worry about is how much fun he could have, and keeping me from puking. He kept having moments of making a request, and then covering it up by saying he was just kidding. I spent the day telling him that his thoughts, opinions and desires are important, and he doesn’t have to be kidding, but any requests that had to be denied came with a reason that even he could validate. If at anytime he had to go to the bathroom, was hungry or thirsty or wanted to see or do something, it was up to him. There were limits, such as climbing on railings, but I wanted to stress how important his childlike innocence is to me. Figuring out being a single mom is stressful and I didn’t see until that moment how much it was weighing on him as well.
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung
My stomach was different when I was younger. It was stronger. I was able to ride anything and shake it off to ride the next big coaster by the time we got through the long line. I loved the loops and riding backward. Now I don’t. Now the loops and spirals make me want to vomit. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been able to stomach a Merry-Go-Round. I get dizzy. But rides that twist and spin tend to make me want to vomit now so I avoid most rides that are not wooden coasters.
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” -Carl Jung
There were many rides where I stood in line with my son and waited with him, only to step through and wait for him to ride alone. Or I asked if others would ride with him. It wouldn’t have been fun for either of us if I got sick and we had to sit the whole day. I know my limits. Mind you, only a few weeks ago, I got car sick in someone else’s car. (It might have just been a bad date and a reaction to him.) Wooden roller coasters are made for steep climbs and tremendous drops. I love the weave back and forth. While Ghostrider made me burp like it was a Beerfest, I didn’t want to hurl. I was smiling throughout the ride.
At one point there was a family behind us complaining about the long wait. My child started to grumble. I pulled my son into a hug and told him the long wait wouldn’t get any shorter if we started complaining and it just means more time to hang out and give him my full attention. Then we started tickling each other.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – Carl Jung
My son loves terrifying rides. He feels fear and excitement and will talk about being afraid, but he’s also very determined to ride in spite of his fear. This is bravery and I am so proud of him. At one point his determination made a grown woman suck it up and go on a ride she almost backed out of.
Throughout the day, I was declining rides because of a fear of being sick. It’s a solid concern considering how consistently I get sick, but still, I kept chickening out. The times I did get on rides, I laughed and screamed in joyful exhilaration while my son rode next to me with terror etched in his 9 year old features. At the end of the ride, he was happy and excited and wanted to ride again while I was happy during the ride, and sick afterward. I’m not sure what it means yet, but it means something, right?