Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Ferris Wheel

It's just about fair time in the Mid-South.

When I was a kid, the coming of the Fair was about as exciting as the opening of school to me. (Okay, I'm wierd. I loved school best of all.) There was excitement among my classmates about who was going with who to the fair. My grandmother always sent me a little cash for my birthday which was close to fair time, so I didn't have to worry about not saving enough from my allowance. When I was twelve, ten dollars could buy a lot of happiness. The fair was full of good food and gaudy fun.

Mostly, I wasn't brave enough for the scariest rides, although once my girlfriends did convince me to go on the Coney Island roller coaster when I was in New York on a choir trip and I survived. The bumper cars were too rough and aggressive for me, and even though I looked much younger than my actual age because I was small, I didn't have the guts to ride the less frightening kiddie rides once I got past third grade.

Ah, but the Ferris Wheel. It was a tolerable level of fear and excitement that led me back to that one from year to year. The thrill of looking out over the fair, especially if it was a clear, cool night was enough to quell my fears.

The Ferris Wheel was by and large predictable. There would be the tummy dropping moment as we came over the top, especially in the middle of the ride when it went a bit faster. The rocking of the car was usually gentle, unless you happened to end up with a rowdy boy in your car who thought it was funny to rock fast and make the girls scream. If you were lucky, there would be a bit of a delay when you were at the very top. If that happened, my anxieties would quiet as I enjoyed the view of the small city below. This cycle was repeated several times, depending on how long the lines were awaiting a ride, then slowly, sometimes with some jerking, you would descend and disembark. The Ferris Wheel would begin it's journey again with new passengers.

Sometimes my friends and I would jump right in line and ride again. I liked those times, but many of my friends thought it was too boring and headed for the Tunnel of Love or Tilt A Whirl or The Bullet. Since I lack the thrill seeking gene, I would content myself with pitching baseballs at cats or tricking the guy who could guess your age until they were through.

Once in a while there is a day in my life so good that I just want to shout, "Stop!" and enjoy the view from the top of the Ferris Wheel a bit longer. During those rare days, there is harmony in my universe. There is enough of everything...time, energy, money. None of the kids or people we love are in an immediate crisis. There might be a happy event to celebrate, but not one that requires exhausting preparation. Perhaps an engagement or new pregnancy is announced. The garden is looking good, and not requiring too much care. My arthritis is at least tolerable. Our little family is healthy and busy and happy. Those pauses never last long enough to suit me, though. The wheel keeps turning.

I hope the future holds more of those pinnacle days. In the meantime, I'll just hang on and enjoy the ride.


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