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i was afraid

We took our kids to Disneyland for the first time over the long weekend. My husband and I both had work off and so we decided to go for it–the kids have been wanting to go for a LONG time and they are perfect ages (everyone able to walk by themselves, use the potty, etc.). So off we went.

I spent the first day walking around in bliss. No jacket! Churros scenting the air! My three little people grinning and beaming and joyful about everything! My husband, as always, infinitely patient and hilarious and gentle and smiling.

It was a very good day, so much so that we stayed when night came on.

My middle boy, to our surprise, proved to be completely unafraid of any and all rides. He went on Indiana Jones, the roller coasters, and Splash Mountain without any fear. In fact, when we asked him what he’d like to do again, he wanted Splash Mountain. “You should take him,” my husband said. (For the initial experience, I had been confined to the Winnie-the-Pooh ride with our littlest guy.)

I have always loved roller coasters and scary rides, and in previous Disneyland trips (as a kid, as a newly-minted high school graduate, as a young teacher chaperoning students), I always headed to those places first. So I climbed aboard with my two older boys without any feeling of apprehension.

And then we came up to the drop.

My middle boy took my arm and pulled it around him, tight, and put his arm over mine. And in that moment of rare physical closeness, the two of us tucked together, I felt his heart fluttering, and we began to fall.

He made no sound. Neither did I. Everything was very, very black. And– though I had been on the ride before– in some deep, primeval way that had more to do with the dark than the drop, I was afraid.

The picture in the display afterward did not show us. The man in front raised his arms and he was a big guy, and so my son and I did not appear in the picture at all, just one pink sleeve of my hoodie showing up in the corner.

For a moment, it was haunting, the nearly complete obliteration of the two of us. But I knew that moment would be forever imprinted in my mind. When it was dark, and the two of us were falling together, and we both held on.

+ comments (12)
  • Jessica
    January 24, 2012

    That must have been so much fun going to Disneyland! I would be scared on that ride, too!

  • Barmy_Bex
    January 24, 2012

    I went on my first ever holiday last year (i’m 23) and it was to Disney Land, but we went in Feb and it was cold and a bit wet. I still had an awesome time, but on the days I was there Splash Mountain and the Indiana Jones ride were closed. I didn’t go on any of the ‘BIG’ rides in the end, but everything I did go on/ experience was Amazing, I really want to go back one day.
    I need to win the lottery methinks. πŸ˜€

    So sweet, he held onto you, would have made a lovely photo.

  • KathrynCooper
    January 24, 2012

    I love roller coasters too, but I was scared with you while reading your account in the dark. πŸ™‚ I look forward to being able to go on roller coasters with my boys when they get a little bigger.

  • Jenny S. Morris
    January 24, 2012

    Ah this is such an awesome moment. And of course you capture it with words so well!

  • Joanna Armstrong
    January 24, 2012

    The way you described this is just beautiful! Your writing style is incredible.

  • melissa @ 1lbr
    January 24, 2012

    Ooh, I’ve never been at night – I bet it was scary!

  • DebStevens
    January 24, 2012

    Chills. Especially love the last line.

  • Lisa
    January 24, 2012

    Wow…I get this too. When I ask my students to envision colors that are associated with feelings, I always share that when I think of “cold” I don’t think of BLUE or WHITE. I always think of BLACK. The cold blackness of space…the chilled eternity of a grave, (maybe even a brief moment of next-to-no-gravity obliteration on a roller coaster.)

    I’m glad your sons were with you to keep you “hanging on.”

    And I agree with Jenny and Joanna that your powerful, thoughtful writing captured the moment so well. πŸ™‚

  • FloeticFlo
    January 26, 2012

    Wow. You are such a great writer, Ally. You took this one moment, centered it on one emotion, and wrote it to flow like a lazy river ( NOT a waterfall. )

    Color me impressed! πŸ™‚

  • Tahani Mahmoud
    January 27, 2012

    loved matched and crossed, just waiting for the last. I’ve been currently working on a novel myself and was wondering of you knew any publishers.

  • Stephanie
    January 28, 2012

    What an amazing moment and beautifully put into words.

  • L.T. Elliot
    January 28, 2012

    You perfectly described this feeling. Whenever I go on rides with my kids at any amusement park, this is what I feel. (Well, roller coaster rides.) Since my first ride, I haven’t been afraid of roller coasters, but the second my sons came into the world, that all changed. Now, I wrap an arm around them and hold on tight. And you perfectly described that fear, that tightness, that stomach-lurching, drop.

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