A Life Changing Ride

November 10, 2017
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The phrase “life is like a rollercoaster” is used to represent the ups, downs, twists and turns that life takes you on. However, instead of bringing me excitement, my nine year old self, standing at the foot of a metal giant at Universal Studios Singapore, trembled with fear. “I don’t want to do this,” I said. If life is filled with ups and downs then roller coasters must be deathtraps. But, at the same time, I believed roller coasters were “cool”, as if riding one would make me a new person. I imagined riding one as being in an extended convertible, going down a hill filled with twists, turns, and tunnels. Having the wind rush through my hair, my arms up with my fingertips grazing the clouds, and the feeling of my entire body being weightless - at least this is what the Six Flags commercials made it out to be. The sense of fearlessness and courage is what I admired most in some people,  the way they walked out of rollercoasters with pride and a large smile on their face. I began to believe that I should feel this way too.

 

It all began when my sister, aunt and I were walking through the theme park, stopping and taking pictures at least every ten seconds, with the smell of popcorn, fudge and churros filling the air. While looking down at the map, I noticed we were approaching the “Battlestar Galactica”, huge dual roller coasters, one red, one blue, merged into one. They were meant to represent “Human vs Cylon”, the red being human and the blue being cylon. I simply cannot express how large they were, noticeable from the gates of the theme park, and what seemed like from outer space as well. Not only was it the biggest structure in the park and the biggest ride in Singapore, but the largest dual roller coaster in the world! The two rollercoasters were merged in a way to make it almost look like a hairball. The white beams that supported the rides erupted from the ground, making anything around them look miniscule. I knew my sister would make me ride it, she knew it would be my first and she could tell I was scared. Meanwhile, I was trying to come up with every possible excuse. “I’m not tall enough! there is a height limit”, “I just ate!” and “my slippers might fly off,” were my strongest excuses I had prepared for when we got to the entrance. When the time came five minutes later, I knew nothing would work and I heard the words “Come on, don’t be a baby”. I could have easily used one of my prepared excuses and followed it with a “but you can go! I’ll watch from here!”, and point at bench beside me, but I felt I should finally face my fears.

 

Eventually, I pushed back the urge to chicken out and I slowly dragged the heels of my feet toward her, standing under the large, lit up sign reading “Battlestar Galactica”.  My sister pointed at the height requirement sign that said “Must be over 4 feet” and sarcastically muttered the words, “Not tall enough, huh” and continued to laugh. I was struck with fear as I squinted upward, trying to find the top of the rollercoaster, too scared to even acknowledge her snarky comment. Eagerly she led the way through the doors to reveal a large room,  filled with rope barriers to create pathways, and a large staircase with illuminated arrows pointing upward. “Why is nobody here? Maybe it’s closed down” I said to my sister, as she marched towards the staircase. “It’s not closed down” she briefly answered. We continued walking silently through this seemingly endless, maze. The walls were all colored blue and red with Battlestar Galactica references everywhere and the smell of fudge and popcorn never left the air. When we finally reached the carts, we saw two Universal Studios employees standing around and four park visitors seated in the cart. My sister smiled and spoke to the employee that told us to sit in the front two seats of the massive cart. The other four visitors were all older than us, and seemed nervous as well. At one point, while walking to the front, I heard one of them mention how I was so small and brave to get on the ride. I briefly enjoyed a few moments of fame as I heard the whispers, but was soon consumed with nervousness and fear. An employee came and helped everyone with their safety bars, then walked off the platform and signalled the man at the control center to begin the countdown.  I felt my body start to shake and bad thoughts burst into my mind. “What if the ride breaks and we fall off?”, “What if my seat belt goes loose?” and, “What if we get stuck upside down?” were all questions that were racing through my head. I was so fear struck that the entire ten second countdown didn’t go through my ears until I heard, “2, 1! Have a great ride!”.

 

Before I knew it, we had left the platform and started travelling up a huge slope. The only noise I heard was the four other passengers in the back, laughing in fear and excitement. I looked down at the huge park and saw my aunt, sitting on a bench by a tree looking up at us and waving. I was too scared to let go of the safety bar to wave back. My sister and I looked at each other as we approached the top. She had a huge smile on her face and said “Don’t be nervous! It will be fun, trust me” and looked away. How could she tell I was nervous? Was it my body shaking? or my facial expression as if I had just witnessed a murder? We reached the top and stayed there for a solid minute. “Is the ride broken? Are we stuck up here?!” I hollered to my sister. “No, it’s not broken, it’s for suspense! We will drop any second now, just relax!”. I could not relax. How could anyone relax? Moments later we were off, zooming through the metal jungle, going up, down, upside down and every other possible direction. We went through loops and even through a tunnel and rather than screaming from fear, I found myself screaming with excitement. The wind rushed through my hair, my arms were up with my fingertips grazing the clouds, and I felt my entire body become weightless - just as the commercials described it but ten times better. As we finally approached the end of the three minute ride, my body was still shaking from the adrenaline rush. The carts stopped and the employees greeted us with a smile. At this moment, I was nothing but proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone and facing my fears.

Looking back on the experience, I realize that doing this opened up so many opportunities for the future. I was no longer scared of new experiences. I was proud of not using any of my excuses and chickening out, and I was proud of all the bragging rights I had achieved that day. “How was it? Did you like it? I’m so proud of you! Wasn’t it fun?” my sister asked. I completely disregarded all of the questions she asked and answered with another question, one I thought I would never ask in this situation. “Can we go again?”






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