I was naive. I believed Six Flags Adventure Park would deliver on its name and was prepared for a day of activity there. With line waits in upwards of an hour, there was time to exhaust conversation, grow sedate and inwardly reflective.
If you spend enough time next to a velociful ride in New Jersey, you may feel compelled to contemplate mechanical malfunctions, the embarrassment of a messy exit from life. The threat of dying makes the day fun. You’ll put your head in the lion’s mouth and have a laugh at the edge of the abyss.
I spent the winter eating shit—a love lost had left a mark on me that restorative yoga and meditation couldn’t touch. It was only as I rounded the first loop of an ugly metal roller coaster that I got what I needed: a true scream.
I see the ground, now I see the perfect sun, I am sideways, my stomach is in my throat, my stomach drops to my asshole. I am a clean slate, liberated from a life that makes a sound like farts. By the third loop of a roller coaster, my mind is an empty vessel. I’m transcendent. Namaste, dipshit.
Real screams aren’t forced. They’re screams of utter disorientation, the perceived proximity of your own death and a complete lack of self-consciousness. They’re a luxury I didn’t know existed. I drew breath only for the purpose of more screaming.
Six Flags is the living Kama Sutra of roller coasters; all riding positions have been imagined and implemented by danger perverts. You can scream sitting, standing, dangling, prone. Screaming does not burn calories—I have researched it and it does not—but the opportunity to let go is rare.
There are some shortcuts to happiness. Hard work and force of will sometimes fail us. Sometimes you’ll need to take the easy way out. Sometimes you’ll need to inhabit a spot that straddles nihilism and joy.
There is a place where you can listen to thirty children scream bloody murder and it’s alright. The dewy cheek of youth presses against death’s lean smile and we forget the grisly business of adulthood.
After the ride, a park employee in braces cheerfully points me to the nearest designated smoking area. The bench is situated under abundant firs, next to a coaster that tilts its seats horizontally so riders assume a flying position, face down and head first, dangling over the ground. It reaches a speed of 51mph. The screaming starts before the ride leaves the gate.
A boy turns to me, “Men are screaming like girls up there.”
Some sad riddles are easily solved. We smile the Buddha’s smile here along the transcendental speedway.