Giving over control of your own destiny (even if it's for a five minute amusement park ride), is hard. I suppose in some ways it's about having a little faith. Now, I don't mean the down on your knees church kind of faith - but just, faith in general. Faith in mankind, the essential goodness that lies in every human, the faith that the teenager operating the ferris wheel pays more attention to you than the girl he's trying to impress and brings you both down safely to earth.
It reminds me of something my dad once said that I haven't forgotten.
In 1969 my family did the unthinkable: they left a closely knit, large, very urban, very Italian family living just outside Manhattan and moved to the edge of the Everglades on the west coast of Florida. It was beautiful, but desolate and might as well have been the last vestiges of civilization from the way people carried on. Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Miami, they knew. But this? The town could only be reached by a dangerous two lane road that stretched across the coasts from east to west called Alligator Alley. Today it is a multi lane highway, and that small town? Grown way beyond it's original borders. But back in the late sixties, seventies, eighties and into the nineties the road was strictly no-service access that cut through the swamps.
As a child I traveled this road infrequently - occasionally to pick a relative up at the airport, or to visit relatives vacationing in Miami who refused to make the trip to the west coast. After all, head on collisions on the Alley were more common than not and in the days before cell phones, emergency help relied on the State Troopers who traveled the route reporting accidents. Fatalities were the norm. But you don't think about those things as a kid, seat belt less and oblivious in the cavernous back seat of a sky blue Delta 88.
It wasn't until I moved away and returned home on a visit, having flown into Miami with a boyfriend that I white knuckled that road. He took to driving the Alley like he was on the Daytona Speedway. Several times, he was nose to nose with a car crossing over the double yellow line, returning to his lane just late enough that we felt the whoosh of air from the passing car. We arrived safely at my parents' house, but the entire time I was dreading the return trip. On the morning of our departure I confessed to my father that I didn't think I could get back in the car. I didn't go into great detail, but I think he knew the boyfriend was a little to blame.
Now my father had been a fighter pilot in Korea and was, in my eyes fearless, even though there must have been plenty of times as a twenty year old in the cockpit of a plane flying in enemy territory that he surely considered the fact that he wasn't going to make it out alive. Getting in the car and crossing Alligator Alley seemed a ridiculous thing to be so frightened of - yet, I confided my fears. To his credit he didn't laugh, he didn't negate my very real fear of dying in a car crash, he instead said to me that I had to have faith. Faith that the person who was in control would do the right thing and make the right choice. He made me realize in that instant that I would have to give something of myself up in order to truly be able to experience a life worth living.
Which in reality, I've come to learn, is way, way, harder than it sounds.