A Vortex of Feelings

In Journeys

By Burim Saciri


Tall soaring coasters in the distance, reaching unimaginable heights in the sky. As we get closer and closer to the amusement park, I feel my heart thumping harder and harder in my chest. I would not be surprised if my heart rate has already surpassed the normal beats per minute for my age. Tight turns and steep slopes. What does this scorching hot summer day have in store for me, you ask? Well, come along for the ride with me because only time will tell. 

My twin sister asks, “Are you ready for a fun day, Burim?”

“Yes, I am!” I say, trying to sound as confident as possible. But as soon as those words leave my mouth, it feels as if a sudden rush of cold air went down my spine. I shiver.

My dad and twin sister look in my direction and ask if I am all right and I say, “Yeah, I just had the chills, that’s all! Could you turn down the air conditioner in the car, Dad?”

“Yeah, no problem!” he replies.

We pull into Kings Island’s massively long and extensive parking lot.

There are a ton of cars there, which makes sense, considering it’s a hot and sunny weekend in August. We finally find a parking spot after what feels like such a long time. From the back seat, it seems we’re lost in this mesmerizing maze of cars! It’s intriguing nonetheless to read all the cars’ license plates:

New York.

Virginia.

Maryland.

West Virginia.

Indiana.

Once we leave the car, my feet hit the hot pavement. I struggle to begin walking at first with stiff legs, and the hot, glaring sun shining right down on me is not helping either.  My family and I begin our long walk to the Kings Island Ticket Booth. As I inched step by step forward, my mind starts to enter panic mode. Out of nowhere, I hear voices shouting back and forth in my brain:

“Why did I decide to come do this!?”

“It is fine Burim! Be a man already!”

“B-b-but those roller coasters…I am g-g-going to have to ride one at least!”

“So, what!? Stop being such a coward!”

Once we reach the ticket booth, I am caught off guard by the towering Eiffel Tower that was just up ahead. A gentleman smiles at me as I walk through the gate.

I am now in Kings Island Amusement Park, and there is not a cloud in the sky.

Gulp.

My dad hands me my unlimited soft drink refill wristband, and I wrap it around my wrist.

As my parents, older brothers, twin sister, and I walk around the park, I notice people of many ages, some older or even younger than me. Most people are traveling in small groups as a family would, but some younger people run around the park on their own, or with some friends. In general, most people have a smile on their faces, but I see some youngsters whining or crying to their parents because they don’t want to leave the park just yet, or they cannot eat that cotton candy they so desperately want. Some people hold soft drink cups in their hands and some I happen to notice more easily, because the smell of their pizza, popcorn, hotdog, or hamburger fills the air. 

Eventually, it registers on me that we must be getting closer to my dad’s work picnic area for Jeld-wen, because my dad starts recognizing some people passing us in the park and stops to chat with them for a bit. 

Then, my dad says to me, “Burim, I’m thirsty. Go over to that vendor and get me a Coke with your unlimited drink band.”

“But I don’t want to!” I say, in a whining voice. The intensity of the sun’s rays are really getting to me now.

“Why did we bother coming today then?” my dad asks in an annoyed manner.

“Calm down, honey,” my mom responds, “We’re in a public place.”

My dad finally says, “Fine, then you go with him, Gennete.”

“All right. Let’s go Burim, you scaredy-cat” she said in a sassy tone.

“Get me a drink too,” my mom exclaims to Gennete.

“So, Besnik and Gezim,” my dad asks, “a=Are you guys gonna ride some coasters or what?”

“No.” Gezim replies sternly.

“No,” answers Besnik, “I’m playing some basketball.”

“Basketball?” My dad asks.

“Yeah.” Besnik says.

“Don’t you have enough basketballs at home though?” my dad questions.

“So what? It’s fun” Besnik answered in a defensive manner.

Suddenly, I stumbled upon the coaster that was calling my name from the moment I had laid my eyes upon it. Goosebumps immediately start spreading up my arms like I have developed some sort of skin rash. The line seems to be growing longer and longer. At that moment, I decide to just step in and join the crowd. 

*

As I edge closer to the front of the line, it hits me that I will most likely be part of the next group to board the ride.

“Ahhhhhh!” go the screaming people aboard the ride.

I look back towards my dad and my twin sister, who give me a thumbs up. I respond with a thumbs up, as well as a slightly convincing smile upon my face. This “vortex” will be engulfing me here momentarily.

Gulp.

I am at the entrance, and the ride officials direct me to take a seat in one of the opening spots available left on the ride.

There is no going back now. It is too late! 

The ride starts moving, and we begin moving ever so slowly up the first forty-five-degree incline. 

My inner conscience is coming alive again, but I try my hardest to look calm and collected to the other passenger riding in my car with me.

“It will be alright, Burim. Everything will be just fine. Don’t worry!”

I think to myself, “How in the world am I going to be all right!? I’m not a roller coaster riding king by any means!”

“Just take a nice, deep breath . . .”

By the time I was ready to close my eyes, we were already at the top of the first hill of the ride, and my eyes almost immediately looked straight to the ground.

I say to myself, “No way! This cannot be happening!! How am I this far up from the…?”

Then, the coaster is off! Down a miniature drop, heading straight forward on the ride at a moderate pace, then suddenly…

 WHOOSH! 

Our car is heading straight down toward the ground at about a sixty-five-degree decline or more, and  my stomach just dropped like a mic and the force of gravity never felt as real as it did before!

The steepness of that first drop gives us the speed we need for our cart to have enough kinetic energy to reach the top of the second hill. As we come down that hill, our car makes it over a tiny hump in the tracks and I begin to see the first of two, massive loops standing before me in the distance.

Gulp.

But before I can even begin processing how our car will get past these two large, consecutive loops, our cart is already picking up speed and heading straight towards the base of the first loop. I quickly close my eyes, and then reopen them, only to find out where I am . . .

“I’M UPSIDE DOWN!!” I scream to my inner self.

Our coaster heads back down this loop with enough acceleration to get us through the second loop awaiting our arrival. 

My vision of the world has turned upside down again, and I begin to question what reality looks like in real time.

Then, with no time at all to think this through, our cart has picked up speed again, ready to face the two barrel rolls just ahead of us.

I am really starting to feel those G-forces k-k-kicking into high gear right now.

Finally, before I know it, this ride offers the last trick up its sleeve for its riders.

The boomerang!

After that, our cart makes one lateral swoop in a circular motion, and then I am back upright as our coaster slows to a stop.

I unbuckle my seat belt and exit the ride. I make my way slowly over to my dad and twin sister to give them a high-five and hear them congratulate me for riding that scary roller coaster. 

Well that was one heck of an experience, filled with a vortex of fast-paced emotions and feelings that were changing a mile a minute it seemed, but it is over now. 

I survived.

But just when I thought my job was done at this amusement park for today my dad asks me: “So Burim, are you going to ride another coaster today?”

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