Monday, August 18, 2014

Roller coasters

Do you like roller coasters?

I do. I've enjoyed them for most of my life. But the reasons I enjoy them have changed over time.

Disney's Thunder Mountain coaster:
Not all that scary, it's more about theme than ride.
For a coaster, no more than 4/10 for fear/track coolness, but
it's a pretty cute ride, and scores high on theme.
Often, it's the adrenaline--the way I step off the coaster feeling like a superhero. It's the rush of facing my fears and surviving (because goodness, yes, staring down that 60-foot near-vertical drop causes a sickening rush in my stomach, a churning level of fear that comes out as a 120-second constant scream, since being securely strapped down I have no choice but to continue).

When gravity disappears, and falling begins, and Earth approaches all too quickly--that's a primal moment. It's powerful.

Griffin coaster in Busch Gardens:
8 out of 10 for awesome. The designers
put in a deliberate pause at the top of this,
just so you can see the fall you're about to take.
(Image by Fritz Spitzkohl)
I scream and laugh and feel like I'm flying--on the good roller coasters, anyway--and as I'm tossed about I wonder if this is how birds feel flying through turbulence. Perhaps the flight Powers in my books feel like this the first time they learn to fly, young people falling up and away from the world and feeling their stomachs drop in anticipation.

And then, when they go forward and up and down and spin around, and gravity ceases to hold them, the rush and joy and thrill and fear?

Then I emerge victorious and strangely not dead, and with fight or flight raging hard in me, I'm stronger and faster than normal, at least for a few dizzy moments. Whatever day-to-day fears I've hanging over me, I can't remember. I'm too busy enjoying still being alive.

Sometimes I wonder if the people who design coasters are sadists or beneficent healers.

Do you enjoy roller coasters? What's the best coaster you've been on?

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