Once upon a time, in the first years of our marriage, M and I lived in Pittsburgh, PA. I was working on my master’s degree at the Cathedral of Learning, and M was working at paying the bills and keeping us housed and fed. When the stress of either of those occupations got to be too much, we’d head over to Kennywood, an old fashioned amusement park, and ride the coasters.
I never much liked roller coasters until Kennywood. They scared me to death. I hated the way my stomach lurched when we plummeted down that first major hill. Our first trip to Kennywood, I avoided those rattling carriages of terror.
But there was this one wooden one to the side. It looked quaint. And not too big. I could see the scope of the rises and plummets and they looked bigger than a kiddie coaster, but not that scary. “Let’s try it” we decided, and got in line.
It wasn’t until we were buckled in that we realized the trick: That Kennywood was built over a series of ravines. That there would be no first big clicking climb. That the entire thing was powered by one stomach churning drop, just as the coaster cars left the platform. That the best part of the ride was the part you couldn’t even see while you were waiting, appraising the size of the ride, deciding to tackle it.
There’s no time to prepare or worry. Just plunge, remember to breathe, raise your arms, scream, and laugh while the tears are making horizontal streaks across your cheeks.
The photo above was taken four years before I learned to love that roller coaster (that’s me, second from the right), and two years before M and I became a couple. Most of us in that picture were recently out of college, just embarking on our careers and lives. We were in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, at the trail head at the start of a weekend of backpacking. We had a trail map with a couple possible tent pitching locations circled, a few hours’ walk in. And that’s about all we knew. We didn’t know at that moment that it would start to drizzle, then to rain, then to pour for the rest of the weekend.
We didn’t know about the rises and ravines ahead of each us, the loves, the losses, the jobs, the babies, the miscarriages, the accomplishments, the disappointments, the adventures. We set out, laughing, wholly unprepared and excited for the ride of our lives.
This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.