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.
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.
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!
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.
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?