Rivers and Rides

As a kid, my cousin and I lived, breathed, scrimped and saved for that one glorious week in late summer: the arrival of the summer fair! There was so much to see and so much to do – the  rides, the concerts (KISS, Bob Hope, The Stampeders and Cheap Trick, just to name a few!), the Midway, the games of chance, the incredible foods, and all those rides! Did I mention the rides? Yeah .. I loved the rides. Total ride junkie, yes, yes I was.

Best friends then and now: Deb (L) & me (the curly haired shorty) with 2 other cousins

I loved everything about the fair: escaping summer’s heat by feigning interest in the exhibits, just so we could chat up the cute Ag reps (yeah we weren’t obvious at all), finding a shady spot to listen in on local talent shows, strolling through the midway in our cutest summer outfits, sampling yummy treats, and of course, riding the rides.  We’d spend all day out there:  chatting up our friends, trying to be cool and cute and older than our years and then we’d finish our day at the Grandstand taking in a concert accompanied by sunburned shoulders and a mild case of indigestion.

Once was enough for me on the Zipper;

I can count on one hand the number of times I braved the Zipper, a swirly, spinny cage designed to make riders hurl and retch. No, my preference was far tamer; I preferred the tilt-a-whirl, the Ferris Wheel and of course, the classic whip-us-around and thrash-us down roller coaster.   A must stop was the “Avalanche,” a circular roller-coaster type ride blaring classic rock, the place anyone cool preferred to hang out. We were far from cool but did our best by loitering there in our summer tans,  Bonne Bell lip gloss, Bob Seger Tee shirts, and knee-high socks:  Cat Scratch Fever – duh duh duh!

Made perfect sense at the time!

I was thinking about carnival rides the other day and how they translate to life.

Have you ever been excited about a someone new in your life – a new friend or relationship and later found yourself feeling a little sick?  As in heartsick?  Have you ever found the experience just wasn’t worth the price of admission?

Some relationships are like that.   Sometimes … they’re people who are related to you.  Sometimes they’re co-workers and sometimes, sometimes they’re just people you thought were friends.

It’s easy to get it wrong: we see what we want to see, after all.  Someone who appears interesting isn’t necessarily interested … in me.  Someone who appears genuine might very well be .. as long as the relationship benefits them.  Someone who came across as fresh and new and invigorating can turn out to be unpredictable, needy and exhausting … lurching unexpectedly and throwing me to the rails when their  personality reveals itself. And it always does.

I’ve learned something since those summer days of old … and that’s how good relationships – healthy ones – are a bit like a river, they meander and move along at a predictable, steady pace; random events can cause the river to swell and a subsequent course adjustment might be needed but always, always the good ones are those that leave us refreshed and relaxed, filled with satisfaction and ease.   I don’t have a lot of rivers in my life but the ones I do have are wide and deep and very, very good.

... sometimes quiet, sometimes roaring, but always, always there; image

Some rides aren’t worth the price of admission; unfortunately some relationships aren’t either. I think the key might be in skipping the rides and finding yourself a river, or two.

Did you have a favorite carnival ride as a kid? Do you have any rivers now? Can you see any relevance to your present day relationships?

Categories: Family, Friendship, Growth, Life, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

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32 thoughts on “Rivers and Rides

  1. NO RIDES FOR ME! (I get dizzy on the tea-cups!)

    I realize your post is so meaningful…rivers, relationships, rides, but I just can’t get past the Bonne Bell lip gloss. Man, that hit a nerve in my memory bank!

    • .. ha ha “dizzy on the tea cups!” The funny thing is, that’s me NOW. Back then I was fairly fearless .. or clueless..

      Bonne Bell was where it was at; I remember Root Beer, orangey-banana and cherry cheesecake flavors in particular. 🙂 MJ

  2. I still have friends from girlhood and as you say, the relationships may deepen or curve or the time between visits widen, but they are special in ways only we can understand. If I blogged about some of the things we did…the blogging world would screech to a halt. LOL

    • Those are the best friends: the ones who know you really, really well but love you anyways 🙂 I sure hope you’ll tell us a few of your tales, Renee.

  3. You got me to thinking what I would save up for. A movie, cherry cokes on Saturday at the drug store, birthday and Christmas presents, and…extra money for the fair in the fall. Mom always gave us some money but sometimes we just needed a bit more to taste it all and to get it all done.
    I have found like writingfeemail that treasured relationships deepen over time, that they take different curves and perhaps visiting or staying in touch is more widely spaced, but still picking up from where you left off is sweet.

    • Yep .. Our parents always gave us some money but we had to earn a lot of it and that didn’t hurt us a bit. Looking back, having a goal to work towards made weeding the garden a lot more appealing.

      And you’re right, picking up where you left off is really, really sweet.
      Cheers! MJ

  4. I like your analogy. Yes, I have had the different types of relationships you descibe, and like you, have learned that there are only a few who become rivers. Most people pass through our lives for a season. Sometimes I think it is because there really was no substance to the relationship, and sometimes because the events that brought people together were not sustainable…it takes a very strong friendship to withstand georgraphical separation. It can be done, but in my experience, doesn’t happen often.
    But I know the other type of friendship you refer to is really the flash in the pan variety…looked shiny at first, but wasn’t real.
    Love your comparison of rivers and relationships! ~ Sheila

    • I think you’re so right — not sustainable is a very succinct way to put it. It feels less emotional for me to quantify a friendship like that and I will remember your words.

      The good stuff is in the river bed isn’t it? MJ

  5. PS…love the pants in the photo!

  6. Some friendships come and go for a season, but others are worth investing in to for the long haul. I am thankful for all the friendships I’ve had, because they have each uniquely taught me something. It’s my desire to be a good friend, to myself and others. Great post and photos, MJ, thank you for making me think 🙂

  7. Fascinating questions at the end, MJ. I’ve aways been fairly afraid of amusement park rides, unless they were very, very (read boringly) tame. However, I’m in a relationship with a woman who, though she’s like a river in terms of the peace and calm she brings to my life–really likes life’s wildest rides. I’m talking international post-disaster. Wonder what that says about me, us, her? Love the analogy here.

    Fun ride, this post!


    • What that says to me – is that she – and the two of you together – are happily worth the price of admission 🙂 Cheers for your weekend, MJ

  8. Great analogy as everyone else said — I like rivers too. Rides make me nauseous. But I do remember the cute guys at our annual carnival. Thanks for the memories you brought back!

    • Rides make me queasy — now — but back then I enjoyed the lights and the twists & turns. I remember the “wave of cuteness” (our description for the cute Ag Reps staffing the tractor and implement displays ) and how much fun we had working our mojo(s) on them. Translation: dorking it up!

      Cheers! MJ

  9. Love this post for its nostalgia and its wisdom. And this line? Well, it needs to be plastered on billboards: “I don’t have a lot of rivers in my life but the ones I do have are wide and deep and very, very good”. Awesome post 🙂

  10. I never thought to compare relationships to the fair, but you’re right. Some people spin you around, some people jerk you around… and some are unpredictable like the crazy house that ends with the spinning culvert thing that you have to walk through without falling on your behind.

    And all your references brought back such memories — Bonne Belle lip gloss, Bob Seger, Cheap Trick (surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself away, hey…yy…hey…yy…hey!), and sunburns because of wearing short shorts and halter tops. Wow. Those were the days. 🙂

    Oh, and the smell of popcorn, cotton candy, and cinnamon roasted almonds. Yum.

    • and I don’t know about you, but I HATED that crazy house – ugh!

      I’m glad for the trip down memory land (Mamma’s all right, Daddy’s all right, they just seem a little weiiird – Surender!) What a classic 8-track that was 🙂

      I loved the smell of the popcorn, the caramel apples, the Doukhobor Bread and the pierogys & onions! Mmm.
      Thanks for weighing in, Jeanette.

  11. I really enjoy these thoughtful posts of yours, MJ.
    For the record, Ted Nugent puts on an incredible show. I saw him perform once – and I was blown away. He is an entertainer – a very talented entertainer.

    I have three very close friends – we make up a wide, deep and healthy running river. I’m grateful.

    • I’m glad you enjoy them, LD. I haven’t seen TN but Hubbs is a big fan and has seen him several times – he said the same thing, extremely good in concert.

      Your deep and healthy river sounds wonderful!

  12. What a great way to describe friendships. I always loved riding the zipper but I have to agree that for friends I love the slow and steady not the wild and dangerous.

    • Thank you; once on the Zipper was enough for me – but it might have had more to do with the fried fiddlestick I’d just eaten at that time 🙂 MJ

  13. I don’t have a lot of rivers in my life but the ones I do have are wide and deep and very, very good.
    I love this line. I am the same way. I have a few lasting and deep relationships that I know will always be solid. I am very grateful for that.

    As for rides? I get very dizzy and sick on just about anything that turns or twists. I can go on slow moving ones maybe. Usually when I take my kids to the amusement park, I’m the one waving from the ground.

    • It was important for me to write this post; to step back and look at what/who is already here and not think so much about who else I could add. I only have so much energy to give to relationships and I want to give as good as I get; If I’m around someone unpredictable and draining, my “good” relationships suffer. Lesson learned.

      … waving from the ground myself 🙂

  14. I loved the idea of the rides, but the first one on the midway was always my undoing, the tilt-a-whirl. The Ferris wheel was my very favorite, none of that spinning around madness!

    • … I loved the Ferris Wheel, too .. and especially when they stopped it for a moment and you could linger up there, far above the madness… so peaceful 🙂 MJ

  15. Bonne Bell lipgloss and Cheap Trick, wow, I went back in time just like that. Great analogy, great ride! Hugs!

  16. MJ, your post has set my mind thinking on the friendships in my life. I think I have a handful of great rivers in my life. And then I have dozens of dried up streams. The saddest thing is watching what you thought was a great river and it was for a time turn into a dried up river bed. But each has a purpose in our life…that’s the amazing thing about rides and rivers.

    • .. I hear you, Jeanne. It is hard to recognize a great river dry into a crusty shell of dust but at least we can recognize it, right? It’s when we return to that dry well, filled with hope and the inability to truly see what’s before us, that we have cause to be sad.

      You’re right; each has a purpose and a design .. under heaven.

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