A random musing on why we love rollercoasters

By Emily Wang

The Tower (Princeton, NJ)

The first time I stepped foot on a rollercoaster, I wasn’t scared, although I definitely should have been — it wasn’t rational for me not to fear being dropped at hundreds of miles per hour. A love for rollercoasters in general is fairly illogical. A er all, it doesn’t make sense to like being strapped down in a death machine that could fail at anytime, sending you tumbling to your death.

Even now, so many years later, I still remember the menacing grinding noise of the tracks as my cart started moving and the way that my hands gripped down on the handlebars, knuckles taut against my skin. My heart rose in my throat and adrenaline shot through my veins. Yet, I felt nothing but excitement.

As we climbed the steep cliff, nearing towards the fateful drop, I prepared myself. “ is is it, Emily,” I told myself, “this is the feeling you’ve always wanted to know.”

The coaster screeched to a halt under me, and then we dropped, as did my stomach. As we flew through the air, my vision blurred as we accelerated, yet somehow I had never seen things clearer. You see, when you’re being dropped so quickly, the moment is the only thing that can hold your attention; you don’t think about that piece of homework you forgot to do or even the unattractive way that your hair is flying in your face. You’re just reveling in the moment. You revel in the speed — the way that the wind dishevels you in a way that you can’t and shouldn’t bother to fix. You revel in the drops — the way that your stomach drops just enough in the middle of a big one so that for a moment, even gravity loses its hold on you. And you revel in the smoothness — because after the uphill battle to get to the top, the road ahead is easier than you could have possibly imagined. A ride on a rollercoaster is truly a revelation each time it happens and that’s the reason that the picture in the middle or at the end of a rollercoaster is worth so much. It’s a version of you that you’ll never see in your daily life, it’s a version of you that is inhibition-free.

Photo Credit: John Liang

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