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.