I stood in line for the swings while Daniel and Terrance went to the bathroom. The girls in front of me ranted about how long it was taking, and the mom and daughters behind me chatted about funnel cake, how they’d wait until after the ride to head over to the food court for the warm treat. Teenagers near the end of the line posed for pictures, videos they played back and laughed at and then begged their friend to delete. Passersby inched along, small children a few paces ahead, skipping with delight. Those traveling bravely in the opposite direction endured shoulder bumps and awkward collisions with taller park-goers whose line of vision excluded them.
A long steady scream hung in the air as the swing reached its height and its speed doubled. Blurry riders flew through the air, dark spots against a blue sky. Adjacent rollercoasters shuttled excited riders across curved rails and through loops until they lost their lunch, their minds. The sea dragon rocked back and forth, riders participating in an uncoordinated wave. Tilt-a-Whirl whisked riders in circles, an updated, high-powered merry-go-round. And Dads threw baseballs at jugs, darts at balloons, basketballs into small hoops to win oversized bears, SpongeBobs and Patricks, Simbas, and Peekachoos.
“Boo,” Terrance shouted, running up behind me.
“You scared me,” I swatted at him. “Where’s Daniel?”
“He’s right there,” he pointed to the haggard man wearing an A’s cap, baggy jeans, and a t-shirt that hung on him like a dress.
“Are you sure you’re up to this?” I asked, putting my hand on his arm as he approached.
“I wouldn’t miss it,” he raved. “I’m good,” he reassured.
The line shortened and we were up next. We picked swings near each other and waited for the attendant to come around and check the safety chains before returning to his post. There was a slight tug when the ride started, and soon we were rising, circling the tower. Wind whipped against our faces. We stretched our legs in front of us, leaned back and stared up at the sky. Then the angle of our swings shifted and we were staring out at the park, the city. Buildings in the distance were small now, gabled rooftops more impressive from up high. People scattered across the park chased fun, embraced the controlled chaos. They awed at the engineered magic all designed to impress and distract, create a euphoria that made our hearts sing, our souls soar.