It’s truly amazing how small the big kid ride is at amusement parks now that I’m a big kid. One of my very first scary rides was called “The Zipper” and it was at the Contra Costa County Fair, where the air reeked of fried food and cotton candy, and sawdust and dirt stuck to my pants and shoes. I was too afraid to go near the funhouse, as I had just read Dean Koontz novel named after one, a girl that runs away to join a carnival and I had been scared straight~never would I be joining any traveling circus~ and the swings just weren’t that appealing. The Zipper, however, had it all. It was bigger than life, the people riding it could be heard screaming throughout the fairgrounds, and the look of horrific joy plastered across riders faces upon exiting sealed the deal for me. This would be the ride for me. And it was.
It rocked me. The ride is an elongated spinning oval, with little cars that spin around as you reach the height of the ride, and then careen back to earth. It creaked and groaned with each rotation, the creaks signifying cracks in the metal, and the groans the separation of screws and essential hardware keeping the thing together, and at any given point it was more than likely the ride would fall apart, and all riders would surely meet their fate upon a sawdust covered deathbed. When I sat in the car, it was huge, the bar didn’t hold me as tight as I wished, and every time my car would rotate my little body would fling against the metal life saving bar that was supposed to keep me safe, and alive. I rode it once that fall, and the next year we missed the fair, as we did the year after that. I’ve had dreams of this ride, dreams that within that enclosed spinning deathtrap, I would witness my last earthly moments, with the sweet smells of county fair in my nostrils pre death.
Over the past couple days, I’ve been spending time with my father, a man that I’ve cut from my life for the past 13 years. At the beginning of this year I decided it time to have a relationship, thus began the slow bridge building process that is mending a father-daughter relationship, not really being able to pick up where we left off because when we left off I was 13. That was half my life ago. And it seems as though these past 13 years contain way more life than the first 13. Different kind of life I suppose. In any case, seeing him over the past few days made me realize just how much I’ve missed having him in my life. I cut him from everything, sent back christmas presents, birthday cards, returned every attempt he made to be a part of, even went as far as to call him his first name, just to be mean. Just to hurt him. And looking back, although my parents divorce was pretty ugly, he never really did anything to me that would make me justified in treating him that way. He didn’t deserve for me to be such a selfish little cunt. In fact, there was a time when I was fairly afraid of him, in part because of the things my mother would say (she worried he would show up at our schools, kidnap us and take us to Mexico) and these were fears she wasn’t quiet in voicing to us, but now, as an adult, I don’t know what I was ever afraid of. He’s just a man. Just my Dad. He’s just some dude that made me, and tried his best to do right. Perception really is a motherfucker.
I went to the Orange County Fair about two months ago, and I rode The Zipper again. And while it was indeed the scariest ride at the fair, it wasn’t as scary as I remembered it. It wasn’t the looming steel giant it was in my preteen eyes, and it didn’t fly toward the ground as quickly as my heart felt it had. The safety bar fit snugly across my chest, I didn’t move an inch once inside the car. And while it still had the creaks and groans that qualify it as a carnival ride, those creaks and groans didn’t say to me the ride is falling apart. Just that it’s well ridden.