Life has its ups and downs, that's why the rollercoaster is such a good metaphor. You get in line. You're forced to wait (sometimes for hours) for an experience that lasts for maybe a whole minute if you're lucky. The anticipation builds, a feeling of both fear and excitement. The closer you get to the platform the more you start to question your judgement. Do I really want to do this? You get into your seat, you buckle up...and you're off.
My first really memorable rollercoaster experience happened in May of 1984 during my eighth grade class trip. We took a school bus to Six Flags Over Mid-America in St. Louis, Missouri. Our adventure extended for two days and two nights. Our class was small and our fundraising abilities, extraordinary. We made so much money over the school year we even got $100 spending money a day while we were there.
I've always been, cautious. It's just a general part of my nature. So I was selective about which rides I would experience. On top of my cautious nature, I have a crippling fear of heights. A gift from my mother along with a fear of spiders.
The most famous ride of the park was the Screamin' Eagle. A large wooden roller coaster that the Guinness Book of World Records listed as the largest coaster at 110 feet (34 m) high and as the fastest coaster at 62 mph (100 km/h). Every one of my classmates took a turn or several on this majestic, historical coaster. I was going to take a pass, but two of my friends convinced me that I had to give it a chance, so I got in line with them.
When I got up to the platform everyone had someone to sit with, except for me. They got onto the train in front of me and when it was my turn, I was on my own. I got into the very back car. I have to admit I wasn't paying attention, because when they told us to push our bar into place mine didn't securely fasten and there were no seatbelts. At the time, I weighed in at about 105 lbs. soaking wet. When the car started up the hill, I started to panic. I couldn't get my voice, I couldn't scream. I was tragically silenced during a time when my voice was desperately needed.
Once we got to the top of the hill I managed to get out two words "Help Me." The couple in front of me noticed right away that my bar was not secure. The male was large and strong and managed to hold himself into his car with his legs, while he and his girlfriend held me tight so I didn't fly out of the cart to my death.
Fast forward to a few years into the future when a good friend of mine invited me to join her and the high school German club for an outing at Six Flags. I agreed to go as long as I wasn't asked to ride the Screamin' Eagle and after telling her what had happened to me, she agreed we didn't have to ride it.
When we arrived at the park, Mrs. Pyrtle, the German Club sponsor and high school German teacher gave us three rules to abide for a successful trip. The first rule was to use the buddy system. We were to be with another student at all times. The second rule was to return to the school bus at promptly 6 p.m. and the third rule was to simply not die.
The day was absolutely beautiful. We could not have asked for better weather and the park was not packed because it was during a school day. We rode rides over and over again. There was lots of laughter and happiness. It was getting close to time to leave the park and my friend asked me if I would ride the Screamin' Eagle. I was overwhelmed with dread and disappointed that my friend had asked. I had a very hard time saying no to people, but this time said "no" immediately.
My friend went into a long speech about why I should give the ride another chance. No one had ever died on it before. People had been riding it all day and no one was even mildly injured. I remember her saying "You can do this. Conquer your fears. You'll be glad you did." So I got in line with her. She promised she would ride the ride with me. She wasn't going to abandon me to ride it alone and we didn't have to sit in the very back or the very front.
We positioned ourselves carefully so we could sit in the very middle car. She climbed in first and I sat next to her. We made absolutely sure that our bar fastened. My heart was racing and I was sweating profusely even though it wasn't very hot outside. She made me laugh and reminded me that everything was going to be okay.
When we started up the hill the car was jerking. It was making unusual noises and there seemed to be a faint smell of something burning. It took more than 30 minutes for us to make it to the top of the hill. When we did get to the top we sat there for another 30 minutes or so, but it felt like an eternity. I turned to my friend and said "I think we're going to die." In her very calm and soothing manner she turned to me and said "Mrs. Pyrtle is going to be terribly disappointed."
A helicopter and men in harnesses came up the side of the coaster and removed us two at a time, slowly down the side rail that was maybe a foot across. I remember gripping the railing so tight that when we got to the bottom of the hill my hands were blue from the paint. The train had derailed, but we survived.
I don't think I'll ever get on that coaster again, but I think there's a lesson in this. Even if we think our lives have derailed, we can survive it. Be strong. Be courageous. Take chances but know when it's time to say no.
This is a fiction story that I wrote during college for my creative writing courses. I believe this one was for level 2. I wrote it from the perspective of someone who was disgruntled and abrasive. The result was several classmates being offended by the content.
I remember when this young woman came to see me. It was a slow day and the rest of the readers had gone home. I had agreed to stay and put things in order, so that the Romanov Tea Room could open the next morning to the same high standards the people of Moscow had given it.
I had just pulled my coat from the closet, when I heard the front door being pushed open. I put the coat back and headed for the front room, because I got a light-headed feeling and knew it would be my last reading for the day. I walked into the foyer to find a very pretty woman with a short modern haircut and brown eyes that could hold many secrets, though she seemed as fragile and elegant as a Faberge Egg.
Excuse me ma’am, I realize it is very much past your closing, but if I could…”She looked down and shifted her weight from one foot to the other and her words had begun to dissipate as my senses were tuning themselves to her.
“Please, I will read for you. I must have you relax. Follow me.”
I led her into the main parlor and seated her in a chair across from me at the fireplace, because she had gotten chilled, and I knew without her comfortable, my senses would be interrupted and I too would become too cold. She shifted her weight gently, smiled and placed a generous donation into the wooden box on the stand beside me.
My sight went completely blurry, and I began to feel my clairvoyance become sharper. The pictures of very large names swirled above her head amongst a pair of intertwined gold bands.
“You have the appearance of a person to be married into fame.”
I could feel her interest rising as a warmth of vibrations danced up from my feet into my stomach. Images of brightly-colored splashes of paint, canvas and gemstones invaded my mind space.
“The person you are to marry will have a great appreciation of art and jewelry. He could even possibly be a collector.”
My physical sight had begun returning. I could see that this lady was serious in her inquiry, even though she kept a smile on her face and her legs crossed. She rarely looked into my eyes. She straightened her back, and brushed her hair behind her right ear. This was a gesture I was taught indicated the inquirer had full intentions of keeping my words in her memory.
A strong smell of expensive tobacco smoke entered into my nostrils, causing a tingly, bubbly feeling to shift from the top of my head into my heart. My heart then began to pound feverishly, my vision changed from first to second sight, and I saw a very happy man at a desk in a classroom with this young lady at his side.
“You will make him very happy and have a dramatic effect on his work. He will be a highly-respected man and a very effective teacher. He is much older than you…”
The image became clearer, and I saw a ladies tiara on top of his head.“…and he is of royal descent.”
At that point she became excited, but she remained a lady and covered her mouth as she giggled.
“Can you tell me more about this man?” She spoke direct and politely, but her desire for his name overwhelmed my senses. I too became desperate for the name of this man, an action that impairs my ability to see. I had no idea who he was. I concentrated vigorously draining every last bit of energy that I had left. Scenes of cities, towns and countrysides flashed apace and violently through my head, and a view of Paris lingered. It was raining there, and the entire image changed as the rain turned red and covered it in a blood-like film. I became overwhelmingly sad for her.
“You will travel a lot and will inevitably leave your homeland. I think you should stay away from Paris though, I can see no happiness there.”
We sat there for a few moments, and I had one last vision. It was of many people taking paintings, money and jewelry from her. The last and final image was of two burial caskets; one old and one new.
“You need to be careful with your possessions. You will probably have things stolen from you, and you also have the tendency to spend too much. There is quite a bit of danger involving this. It is important that you take extra precautions.”
For one second she had stopped smiling. She took in a deep breath and returned to her composure, and her smile. My visions had completely diminished and so had my energy and strength.
“I believe that is all I can do for you today, but please young lady, do this old woman a favor and promise to me that you will return for future readings, I so much want to help you.”
She shook her head yes once gently. She stood up from her chair, smiled and thanked me. I walked her to the door and watched her walk away. I could tell she wondered if my predictions were true and I too wondered this. When she left my sight, I closed the door and hoped that she would return. Like her, I also wanted to know his name. I went back to my coat, took it off the hanger, and my sight went blurry. His name…Kandinsky. I didn’t know where to find her. I didn’t know who she was, and she never returned to find out.
Heart sing to me
Dance with exuberance
Flutter with the wind's song
A truth of beauty
Give me foresight
Bring me light
Let me hear
Let me feel
Breathe its rhythm
Let me live
From my heart
Translate its language
Help me listen to my heart
So I won't lose it
Let me hear it
Because I belong with it
In an absence of it
What song does a heart sing
Does it sing despair, anguish, pain
Does it yearn, wonder, become confused
Oh indecision you make my heart bleed
Losing its purpose
Filling up with emptiness
Give me joy
Help me follow my heart's song
It is singing
For it's orchestra