I had been on my first roller coaster ride starting in 1956. It was rather small with low swings and easy curves and I rode it until I was about seven years old. I then disembarked from that roller coaster and got onto the next one in life.
The second roller coaster started out to be easy and light with slow curves but quickly began to speed up as it went along. The ups and downs became steeper, the curves tighter. The speed around some of those curves would make me feel like I was going to fall out and be thrown from and banned from the coaster completely. I held on though and rode it with a fierce determination that it would not beat me. The second coaster left me bruised and beaten and in a general state of confusion. After a few years I could not wait to get off of this thing that was banging me around without any concern for my well being. I wanted off and when I turned nineteen years of age, I finally managed to climb off the wretched thing.
At nineteen I climbed on a roller coaster that would be totally different from the other two. The big difference in this coaster was that I had a companion to ride along with me. Her name was Barbara and we had decided together that we would attempt this roller coaster together. We both knew from our previous coaster rides alone that this coaster would not be a piece of cake. We climbed aboard together on November twenty first, nineteen seventy five. It was a day that would forever change both of our lives.
At first the ride was fun. Neither of us had a care in the world as the ride slowly began to work its way up to speed. A couple of sharp curves here and there hit us now and again but they were nothing that we couldn't handle. We were on our way it seemed.
Then the coaster began to speed up more than we expected. Every once in a while a curve would come out of nowhere and slam us around a bit, but we learned to hold help each other get through these dangerous parts of the ride. As the ride continued the curves came more often and with more severity than before. There were times when we realized we were on this ride alone and that if we were going to make it, then we had to learn to work together. Every once in a while the coaster would tend to smooth out and just as we were becoming comfortable on the ride, the bottom would drop out and we would be in what seemed a free fall with a sharp curve at the bottom which only served to speed the ride up more.
As the ride progressed we found our attitudes on how to survive the ride changing and our attitudes were not changing in the same direction as the others. I began to try to survive the ride my way by myself leaving Barb to her own devices to figure out how she was going to stay on it. It was a big mistake and one that I regret. Eventually I came to the point where i was tired of the ride and decided to let go of the safety handle and let the coaster fling me out into the open air amongst the trees and rest of nature so that I could at last rest peacefully. Barb saw this happening. She saw my thinking starting to change and most important, she saw my hands begin to ease their grip on the safety bar.
She was going to have none of that. She was not going to be forced to finish this ride alone so early into it. She yelled at me to hold on. She fought to hold my hands to the bar, or to just hold them with her own hands. The coaster was doing wild flips and the speed was beyond what the eye could comprehend. The curves had turned into complete loops throwing us upside down and twisting the coaster in all different directions. Then I blacked out.
.When I came back to reality, the coaster ride was still moving fast and the curves were still popping up out of nowhere, but Barb was still there. She had found strength somehow and had one of her little arms around me holding me onto the ride and her other hand was holding onto the safety barb keeping us both on the ride. The ride was still wild, it was still difficult but she was keeping us both on it.
Soon we learned that this crazy ride could be fun if we looked at the things that made it so scary in a different light. The coaster wasn't slowing down and we were being looped and curved and shook about all over the place, but we were able to see that we were together on this wild ride for what was really the first time. It was a realization that would change both of our outlooks on life and the way we approached things together instead of individually.
It has been thirty five years since we climbed on this ride together and the ride is still going at a pretty fast rate of speed and during this past year we have ridden out more curves and loops and twist and turns then we have in most years, but we are still on the ride and both of us are determined to stay on it for a while.
The most important thing though, is that we are still on the ride together.