The rollercoaster looms above us as we got closer, ever more imposing. Even if I crane my neck, I can’t see exactly how high it goes up. I can, though, hear the swoosh of the speeding cars as they rush by, the unmistakable screams of themepark goers who seek that irrefutable adrenaline rush only a rollercoaster can provide.
“You can still back out, you know,” he says. “You can meet me on the other side, and skip the ride.”
I shook my head. “No,” I say in a small voice.
“Are you sure?”
A quick breath in, a quick breath out. A squeeze shut of my eyes. “Yes,” I whisper.
Our turn comes up and we are in the second row. He’s whooping with delight because the second row is the next-best row and we didn’t have to wait any longer for it, unlike those who lined up for the first-row-only line and had to wait extra for their turn. Meanwhile, I’m silent. My insides are tightening; I can’t remember how my voice works.
The cast member working the ride checks to make sure our harnesses are secure, that everyone is strapped in safely. I barely notice what’s going on; I’m concentrating on breathing. It’s not that I can’t do rollercoasters, but I couldn’t do them until I was 16 and it has been at least two years since my last one and, well, what if my motion sickness has regressed or I have forgotten that I didn’t actually like them anyway?
“Can I hold your hand?” I ask him.
“Sure, but you might want to hold onto the bar instead. You’ll probably feel more secure that way.”
Wordlessly, my hands grip around the safety bar attached to my harness.
“You’ll be fine,” he reassures me. “And, well, I love you. Just remember that.”
Less than a split second later, we’re off. We’re getting hurled through the air, corkscrew turn after corkscrew turn, steep inclines followed by even steeper falls. As our car twists and turns, I feel the wind whoosh through my sneakers, proving the claim that they are “breathable comfort.” At one point, we are rushing forward so fast I allow my body to fall in step with the pressure and let my head and neck lean forward. I open my eyes as we get closer to the sky, only to wind up looking directly into the sun.
Eventually — in what feels like a moment that came too fast and not soon enough — the ride ends. We can’t look at each other yet because we are still strapped into our harnesses, but finally I can let the safety bar go
“I love you too,” I grin, reaching for his hand. “Let’s do this again.”