In that moment, the adrenaline surges as my stomach goes haywire because I know it’s about to end up in my chest. The cars all obediently hooked together have taken their last few chink–chink—chinks on their way up the rails. We can just barely see over the crest of the ride and the impending descent is upon us.
I grew up in the Bay Area, which meant of course that I didn’t miss the magical wonders of The Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. There is a right of passage to it, riding the classic coaster that has appeared in movies like The Lost Boys, Dangerous Minds, and Sudden Impact.
The Giant Dipper is a traditional wooden roller coaster ride. No fancy loop-de-loops or corkscrews. Simply and beautifully, the ride showcases large ups and downs for the purists in the crowd.
And for that reason, the moment when the ride goes from sounding like it will never ….make it ….up ……..…the ……….…hill to a whipping, whirling, out-of-control rush that’s over before you know it has been etched into my brain. To me, this encapsulates the quintessential roller coaster experience.
I have found myself thinking about that moment on the ride in Santa Cruz quite a bit lately. My early years of parenting were wonderful and treacherous all at once. Elusive sleep and demanding little people always underfoot existing side by side with sweet kisses and nighttime stories and snuggles that made my heart burst.
Truthfully, I often felt like the roller coaster fighting to make it up that hill, trying to survive to the next stage.
And suddenly, the top of the hill is in view and I realize in moments this will all be over. The phrase “the days drag but the years fly” is giving way to a blur where everything is flying.
I can see our oldest turning into a young man more and more each day right before my eyes. And I know that his brother is right behind him. And that our baby will be only a blink after that.
There is much life to be experienced in the immediate years ahead. And I don’t want to miss any of it.
I may be a little exhausted at times. I may feel overwhelmed. I may not return phone calls or check my email with a speed or frequency I (or any adult person) would deem appropriate or responsible. I may not read or write as much as I prefer. I may not think we will make it in one piece every now and again.
But I am gripping the safety bar and holding on for dear life as I can see what is to come. I am screaming for fear and for fun and for all of the life in my life that I love with precious ferocity.
And I am determined not to blink.