*Today I am participating in Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop by answering the prompt: 4.) Can you almost stop time with your words? Write about the fastest ride you ever had, but describe only a few seconds of it – as though it was happening to slow motion.
I love roller coasters. Disney World is more my speed these days than Six Flags, but still I love a good thrill. Space Mountain and Expedition to Everest are very fast. Tower of Terror, not a roller coaster but nevertheless a thrilling ride, is probably the fastest and the most what-in-the-world-was-I-thinking ride. But my time-stopping slow motion fast ride happened on Disney’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
As I have said before, I am not afraid of too many things (except sharks) but lately I have become extremely claustrophobic. This is a new, surprising development for me because generally I’m pretty unflappable. I have noticed that I get particularly anxious when all three of my triggers are in play at the same time: heat, small spaces and crowds. I can handle each one individually, but when they are all together in a no-exit environment, I can go from zero (calm) to sixty (get me out of here!) very quickly.
Disney World is the perfect storm for a claustrophobic panic attack. During peak visiting times the lines move slowly inside narrow halls without much ventilation. I was anxious about the line for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster because it is one of the most popular rides at Disney World and I knew the line would be crowded and slow moving. However I do not like the descepancy between my roller coaster-loving self and my claustrophobic self, so I decided to take the risk. As my husband and I joined the line inside a dark building, these were my thoughts in slow motion:
This is the Fast Pass line? It’s long.
My heart is pounding so fast, this can’t be good.
Why do they keep these buildings so dark? Why is the ceiling so low?
There are so many people in here.
Is there a way out? Where is the nearest exit?
Take off my coat. Good. Okay, at least I’m not hot.
I refused to packed in like a sardine and they can’t make me.
My husband looks concerned and asks me if I’m okay.
I tell him to stop talking to me; I need to concentrate.
I think if I keep a wide path around me and not let myself get crowed, I can handle it.
Two people-length. Don’t let anyone get closer than two people away.
Focus. Focus on the flower on that girl’s sweatshirt. Like in birthing class.
We are going around a bend. Uh-oh, I know how these lines twist and turn.
I can’t take it anymore. It’s the fear of the unknown, so I ask a lady next to me who has obviously ridden before: What comes next? Is it much further? Does it get more narrow and darker? She assures me that we are almost there.
We enter a room. Thankfully they don’t pack too many people in the room, but it is dark and I can’t see the exits. There is no way out and I start to panic. My heart is pounding so hard.
I fully expect to faint right now. Not that I ever have, so I don’t know what that means. Still.
I can barely breath. This can’t be good for my oxygen level.
What will happen if I faint? Will anyone notice?
James is watching me. That’s good. He’ll notice if I hit the floor.
Take deep breaths. In and out. In and out. Deep and slow. I can do this.
Count to ten. Haven’t I read that somewhere? Count to ten slowly.
It seems to be working. I haven’t fainted yet.
I really need to learn how to meditate.
Oh, it’s Aerosmith talking on the screen. Pay attention.
If I wasn’t so freaked out, I would think this is cool.
This video is way too long. Finish already!
Oh, the doors are opening. Freedom!
No wait. We are in some sort of cage.
A cage! Are they kidding me?
Where is James? Doesn’t he know I’m hanging by a thread?
At least there are no closed doors. Just keep the people away; don’t let them crowd me.
Finally I’m out the cage! I’m free!
And just like that my anxiety subsides and completely disappears. The room is big, I’m in cool air and the people are more dispersed. The line is moving fast and it’s almost my turn to ride. I switch from anxious to excited and hop in the car with a big smile on my face. I love roller coasters! This is why I fought my claustrophobic demons and I’m glad that I did. The roller coaster takes off like a shot and I am flying through complete darkness with Aerosmith music blasting in my ears.