Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
I had a stark realization this weekend about the extent of my weirdness. And, of course, as a public service, I thought I would share it with you purely for your enjoyment. Because I'm nice like that. Kinda. Sometimes. Maybe.
Did I tell you, Life, that I'm a photographer on the side? I have my "real" job where I Resource the Humans, and then the mothering gig (my favorite for reals), and then some (intimidating and simultaneously soothing) music stuff, and then photography...not ever necessarily in that order. I've omitted some of the other things because they don't pertain, and also because I can't remember right now...lots of other less/more attention-grabbing stuff crowding my ability to accurately recall and succinctly articulate.
This weekend, I half-dragged my brother with me to be the second camera for a corporate picnic at a (relatively) local theme park in Valencia. It was lovely. The day was perfect. The kids were actively engaged in games. Employees were with their families. The atmosphere was very relaxed. I got some great candids of people talking and laughing (those are the best). The host was kind enough to throw in tickets to the park for me and the brother for the rest of the afternoon and we decided to hit up a couple little (yeah, right) rolley-coasters before we headed home.
#look, mom, no hands
First, let me say that there was a time when roller coasters were the only things I was really afraid of. Not the dark, not spiders, roller coasters. I was truly (like, paralyzed) terrified of the small dip on Pirates of the Caribbean. I would seriously hyperventilate at the thought of doing twisty-turnies...and there was no way, no possible bribe lucrative or persuasive enough that could coax me to set foot on anything that looped. Because I thought if I tried it, or thought about trying it, I was going to die. Rather, I was going to be twisted, spiraled, and basically hurdled (or dropped) toward my death. The vision was vivid. And I imagined being the one rider in the history of the park whose seat belt sadly, unfortunately, mistakenly opened during the highest point of the man-breaking loop...and then, further imagined myself laying there, broken on the dirty, overpriced soda-caked, candy licked and dropped, popcorn-littered, chili corn dog stick-littered, roach fodder floor for an eternity while the ambulance was summoned, and then struggled patiently to get through all of the rubber-necking crowdlings. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Couldn't risk my life like that. To be safe, I just stayed away. And watched from afar. Like, 10 miles afar.
Well, I say that I had no other fears or phobias, but I admit that I had a fear of heights for a long time. I was the kid in 5th grade at the last day swim party that hiked up to the high dive, only to stand up there on the edge looking down pitifully scared for 20 minutes, freaking out, crying and eventually climbing back down. Of course everyone at the bottom of the ladder was yelling at me to jump. No way, Jose. It was terrifying. And even when I was in high school and picked up springboard diving it was always limited, happily, to the 1 meter board..until I carried it on to college and my coach told me that the number of state competitors in the high dive was minimal...which meant that if I decided to compete, even if I stunk, which I might have a little, I would have a legitimate chance at pursuing the diving thing, possibly all the way up to State Championships...which meant that I got over the heights thing really quick-like. Dangling a potential State Championship in front of my face was a sufficient incentive for me to (quasi) ignore the nudging fear as I launched and propelled myself even higher into the air (without a harness or a wetsuit) and glanced over my shoulder. It didn't matter that I could see almost ALL of the city...or the ocean...or the islands in the distance (yikes). Well, SOMETIMES it didn't matter. Sometimes it still freaked the Love & Rockets out of me.
The experience as a whole was actually a really great thing...that is, until I broke 3 ribs by landing an attempted dive wrong. Failed dives off of the 3 meter board or higher platforms make landing on water, like landing on a concrete sidewalk. In fact, that day, I thought it would have hurt LESS to have just thrown myself on the ground from that height instead of basically belly, or rather, side-flopping because of an over-rotation. I thought of all of this while floating just under the surface of the water that had betrayed me...in pain...not wanting to move...or acknowledge tears of both sharp, burning pain and equally (or more) of agonizing frustration...knowing full well, I would HAVE TO do the dive over again despite the injury, so that I wouldn't, then, be afraid to keep trying...and to get over all of the mental blocks that come from pain. Only later, after my lungs locked up, would an x-ray show the full extent of the damage. And when I asked the doc what I could do about the pain I felt when I would simply breathe, he told me to breathe deeply...and to do it often. Ribs can't really be casted. And restricting the range of motion of the rib cage can cause all kinds of other issues. He told me, eventually, I would become immune to the pain. Rough advice added to a rough day.
#burned to overcome
Second, let me say that I also had a deep-rooted personal fear of abandonment and rejection. This one, I won't pour into. Too many details. Too much of a bummer. Long story short, the embodiment and fruition of that fear came in full, unavoidable force...more than once...and I was put in a position where I had to deal with this fear. While I will not air out the details, I can fully divulge that after all THAT went down, things like rolley-coasters were a snap. And, to prove it to myself, I try adrenaline tracks as often as I can. Except for the vertical drop ones...those still make me feel like my brain is being slammed up against my skull. But at least I know that because I tried...and didn't fake that I had tried.
#bringing the big stick
The brother and I were with a small group of friends in line for a ride I had never experienced. It was huge and had fire and all kinds of crazy gimmick things. It was built to be intimidating...but I took a quick personal inventory while we were standing just underneath it, listening to the strapped-in riders say their Hail Mary's and screaming at the plummet, and it hit me that I felt nothing. There was no usual anxiety, no creative thoughts and advanced acting necessary to bow out gracefully. Even getting strapped in myself, when I should have been freaking out, there was excitement in place of terror. The dragging up the ramp (because instead of facing the climb, the riders were reversed, facing the sky, unable to see how much higher we still had to go...) was nothing but calm...and the drop was pure fun. As well as the rest of the loops with rotations thrown in. Way fun. Again! Again! Again!
I did have laughy-fear on the second ride, only because instead of being vertical to the track, we were horizontal. As we climbed higher...and climbed higher...and climbed higher...and (holy cow, STILL?!?) climbed higher over the dark ground and trees, where only the quiet lights and poles that supported this monstrosity...I will be honest, that the thought of me cascading to my broken death crossed my mind. For a second. But it was then that my momentary fear was utterly dismissed as I squealed in excitement in a barrel roll.
But this isn't the only part of my post, Life. What I should also mention was the part that was directly designed to scare my socks off...but didn't.
#immune to the scare factory
Given that it's October, the park (and every other theme park everywhere) was set up for scary/fright/haunt Halloween mazes. We had to walk through a scare zone to get to the second coaster and back through it to get out. It was dark. Lots of neon. Actors were then menacing, with their prosthetics masks glowing like a nightmare. They would swarm those who clung to friends, or tried to hide their faces from the dark goblins. If people weren't willing to look at the scary characters, they would still scream in a way that would trigger shaking, crying, screams in reply, running in terror, and jumping of fright.
Usually, I'm a super scaredy cat. I will NOT go to horror movies because I can't handle them. I can't handle the anxiety. I can't handle the Psycho-like chords they play to get your scary buy-in. And you know, thinking about it, it's probably because of the music that I'm always eeby-geebied-out. Huh...I just put that one together.
While we were waiting for a funnel cake on our way out, there were maybe 5 actors that were aggressively roaming the entryway, back and forth, to scare the tar out of the new people coming in. Everyone in line was standing to face the spectacle...because it was obvious that when ones back was turned, a gargoyle-looking guy wearing metal on his shoes and fingers would come up and scrape that stuff on the ground (like a nail on chalkboard effect) and shout loudly at the same time to startle the holy hello kitty out of you. Maybe I should have been terrified...but I wasn't. I was actually more fascinated by their make up. I kept wishing that I could stop one of them for a second to get a closer look at what the artists had done. And I had questions!! Was the makeup airbrushed? Or was it some other technique? Were they using prosthetic latex? Or some other kind of tool for the ears? Did they use the same prosthetics every night? Or did they have a week cycle before using something else (like in theater)? How long to do they roam? Do they do retouching during the night? Was the mask itchy when they got sweaty? Did it smell like new tires? Was that annoying? Did it interfere with the smells of the park? Did it make it like, rubber popcorn smell? How were they casted? Did they audition? How many people tried to swing at them each night? How long did the makeup application process take? But they wouldn't stop to talk to me. They were too busy startling the poodle out of young girls, or teenage boys who acted like no one could crack them...
I should have been scared. Every NORMAL person was scared. I wasn't scared. Even when the guy with make up that looked like he was an Orc that had been bludgeoned in the left eye stealthily came up closely behind me and started breathing down my neck...it's a twisted sign when, instead of being rightfully chilled to the bone, it's oddly ticklish. Here he is, trying to do his best serial killer with asthma impression, and I'm giggling like a two year-old. He actually said "meh" before he walked on to a more appropriately responsive victim. And I didn't act that way because I was trying NOT to be scared. I just WASN'T scared. Not there. Now, maybe if he had a chainsaw thing, I would have flipped-the-love out, but there was no audio ambiance to add to my chills...and so it was just room temperature scares for this girl. Who was much more entertained by the terror of others. Now, I will credit all of the actors because for those with weaker constitutions, I don't know if they slept that night...or will...for the rest of the week. I'm just weird.