Monday, July 30, 2012

WEEE! by Diane Kelly

When I was young, I read several books set in New York in which the characters went to Coney Island. An amusement park on the beach was something very foreign to me given that I grew up in the landlocked realms of central Texas. I romanticized Coney Island in my mind, and hoped some day to be able to ride the historic and famous Cyclone roller coaster ridden by the characters in the stories.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Coney Island and dragged my teenaged son along with me. Was the roller coaster the fun, nostalgic summertime experience I had eagerly anticipated and dreamed about?  Not at all!  The 85-year-old ride was about as much fun as being beat with a baseball bat.  The padding on the seat was smushed flat from years of butts in the seats.  Our spines were jarred each time we slammed back into the seat after becoming airborne at the top of the hills, and the lap bar bruised my elbows as they banged down each time we bottomed out.  

Still, I'm happy to have had the chance to see Coney Island, even if it didn't live up to my expectations and left me bruised and battered.  When I later read reviews on the place, many people who had visited it as a child and then again as an adult commented that it was not the same place they remembered.  This got me thinking, do these places really change, or do we?  Do our memories become warped or glorified with time?

Have you ever revisited a favorite childhood site?  Was it how you remembered or was it different?  If it seemed different, was it the place that changed or was it you?


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