Overcoming a roller coaster of emotions

Published 8:38 am Monday, July 22, 2013

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

There is fun and there is fun. There is also fun that you had forgotten about. It is fun that was pushed out of your life because of age and fear.

I have been testing that fear this week. I used to love riding roller coasters when I was younger. I used to love riding the log rides and coming down the big, final dunk, into the water. I used to love those dark, ghostly rides where you never knew what was going to pop out at you in the dark.

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We were invited along with two of our grandchildren ages 8 and 10 to Valleyfair and Nickelodeon at the Mall of America. We were invited because the two grandchildren are at different stages when it comes to rides. One is a little more adventurous than the other. I bowed out on the Valleyfair adventure but my husband, who is a daring guy, took that shift. I did tag along for the Nickelodeon Adventure thinking I might get some shopping time in.

We made it to the mall at 10 a.m. and left at 7 p.m., and I didn’t see the inside of one store. We checked out the Sea Adventure and then went straight to Nickelodeon. I had planned on watching from the sidelines because, and I will admit it, I was scared. It had been at least six years since I had ventured onto a roller coaster or a log ride.

We bought an adult unlimited ride band for my husband but he chose to carry it, instead of putting it on. At one point, my grandson looked up at me with his beautiful eyes and said “Grandma, I want to go on some rides with you.” Who can resist the pull of a grandson’s plea on a grandmother’s heart? I took the wrist band and we hit the Ghost Adventure, which was not scary and I didn’t fear that. It was fun.

We walked past the log ride and he wanted to go on the ride. I handed the band to Grandpa. Again, the plea: “Grandma!” I took the wristband and nervously waited with my grandson. I couldn’t admit I was scared of the final drop. After all, I am 63. Would my heart beat too fast in fear and stop and I would scare my grandson even more? Of course, I couldn’t admit my fear to an 8-year-old. I was supposed to protect him, and he was plenty scared.

We got to the check-in point and they took my wristband to attach it to my wrist. I explained I didn’t want that to happen. I was just going on one ride, and I was going to give it back to my husband. They explained I couldn’t do that. We could not share the wristband. Apparently we missed the warnings when we bought the ticket. I couldn’t go on unless they attached the wristband so it got banded on my wrist. Visions of me being the ride person for the rest of the day and freaking out passed in front of my eyes.

The icing on the cake for me was while we were waiting in line my grandson looked up at me and said: “Grandma are you getting gray hair?” I wanted to reply: “Yes, I am too old to go on this ride. Look around you, do you see any other old people on this ride?” But I didn’t.

I was brave as we climbed, and we both screamed when we dropped. I had made it through, and I remembered how much fun it had been and how much I had loved that ride when I was younger.

Then I panicked quietly. I had the wristband and he wanted to go on the Pepsi Orange Streak Roller Coaster. I looked at the coaster. It was not the kiddie coaster and it was not the huge, turn them upside down coasters. This coaster just had twists and turns, ups and downs and a little speed. My grandson had been on the upside down one earlier and had developed roller coaster fear, but he wanted to try this one. My heart was pounding as we waited in line. I looked for anyone in the line with us older than 50. There was no one.

The warnings started. “Anyone with any heart condition, health issues should not be on this ride.” Or at least it was something like that and it was repeated over and over again. By the time I got to get into the car I was sure I had health issues, but I had to be brave for my grandson.

We rode the coaster many times that day. I loved it, and I wanted more.

I learned that we are never too old to add a little excitement to our lives, a little speed, a few twists and turns. As I relaxed and was not so tense as I was on the first ride, I found that I could even raise my hands in the air and scream with glee. I need to remember my day with my grandkids and the roller coaster and know that like the roller coaster, life is full of twists and turns and ups and downs, but if I learn to relax and go with the flow I will enjoy the ride.


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net.