An Archive of Growth?
middle school

Write about the last time you rode a rollercoaster.

The last time I was on a coaster was probably 2004, at Disney World on the senior class trip.

The first time was also at Disney World, when I was 4 or 5.

But between those? Dude.

The eighth grade class trip. So legendarily bad that the other middle school–half our district’s class–lost all their class trip privileges from then on. But I wasn’t on That Bus, so it really is just a legend to me.

No, my day was awful in its own special way.

I went to Hershey Park with my friends: N, E, and someone else whose name escapes me. N and E were the important ones. We went on a ride or two, and the next thing I knew, I was alone on the main drag. They had disappeared. I had no idea which direction to go in to find them.

This was pre-cell phone (by about a year) so I had no way of reaching them. There was no plan if we got separated. And I stayed in the general vicinity for a good while, so I know they didn’t come back for me.

I was abandoned in one of the ‘happiest places on Earth’.

It was a hot spring day, and I wasn’t keen on doing, well, anything alone. I wandered, looking for my so-called friends. I didn’t panic, but I did get upset.

It’s a special kind of hell to find yourself very suddenly alone, surrounded by classmates you dislike. There’s pressure to keep up appearances. Who, me? I’m fine. Just walking here. Alone. No problems.

Then I heard my name called. It was Shari. She and her friends adopted me, and I spent the day with them, which was much more enjoyable. Shari coaxed me onto wooden roller coasters (GAH) and we got to have fun for a long stretch together. The day turned out a lot better because of her. She saved it for me. I don’t think I properly thanked her for that.

On the bus ride home, my friends were unrepentant. They didn’t see a reason to apologize. It wasn’t like they’d meant to abandon me, and we all had fun anyway.

I think I read for the majority of the ride home.

I never turned it into a Thing, a fight, a drama. I could have. I probably should have, because what they did was supremely shitty. But for some reason, I let it slide. Maybe because it was middle school, and in middle school you think you’ll never find other friends because you already know everybody.

That’s my rollercoaster story.

What happened on the other bus is a tale for another day.

Photo: Michael Bentley

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2 Comments

  1. Sreya

    omg, was Hersey Park where people just got separated all over the place? I lost Shawny and Eileen within seconds of entering the park and ended up hanging out with Mennuti, Taktin and someone else. We had a TON of fun, oddly enough. I found Shawny towards the end of the evening, and we hung out alone, but goddamn.

    • Shen

      Hershey Park is a radioactive warren. Strange things happen there. But at least they turned out alright!

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