I recently went to Cedar Point with some of my closest friends for a day of fun and safe thrills. We arrived early in the morning in order to have a truly full day, and the time to go on as many rides as possible – which we did. All in all, the day was a complete success. Then, at the culmination of the day, I started thinking; I paid $45.95 for a day of rides (reasonable, I did have fun) and spent most of my day waiting. Of the eight hours spent at Cedar Point, I spent more than seven of them waiting in line and less than 10 minutes on actual rides … hardly fair!
Waiting in line for over two hours was the price I had to pay for the 30 seconds of excitement. I’m not saying the waiting wasn’t fun. I enjoyed it. Mullet-hunting and great talks with great friends made the time pass relatively quickly, that was until I realized that is exactly what happens with relationships.
You get into a relationship, have a great time and before you know it, it’s over and all you have to show for it, aside from (if you’re lucky) a few lessons learned, is going back to your girlfriends and having more great talks. My last relationship ended after waiting forever to get on the ride, and, as a result of my commitment phobias, with a rather rocky and stilted take-off.
Now, I’m right back where I started: over-analyzing with the girls and awaiting the arrival of the newest coaster. If we know going in that the ride will always be short and quickly forgotten, why do we spend so much of our lives under a blazing-hot sun waiting in line?
Don’t get me wrong. I had a great day, but I just don’t understand why we all sit in line together instead of looking around and realizing that most of the population, especially in a college town full of twenty-somethings, is looking around just as curious and as anxious as the next person.
I’ve heard it said to me a hundred times, but I guess I had to say it to myself in order to understand it: What you’re really looking for comes to you when you aren’t looking. Look around! The roller coasters come and go, but it’s the waiting in between that you can bet your life on. Look around at the people waiting with you. They’re where the trip really is; it’s in friends.
I know it sounds clich� and hokey, but it’s true. When all is said and done, whether it’s a relationship, a date or a name I don’t remember the following morning (wipe those judgmental scowls off your faces, we’ve all been there), it’s your friends who will talk about it with you the next day, week, month and year. They’re the people who will tell you all the things you need to hear to convince you to get back in line just one more time.
The ride can be a blast, full of twists, turns, ups and down, upside-down and while you’re on it you don’t want to be anywhere else. Even when you get off, you’re still on a high from having been there. The rush follows you just long enough after you’ve descended the metal staircase to get you past all the neck-cramps and whip-lash that you’ve encountered. And, once you’re finally done with it all, those same friends will still be there to listen to the shit you had to put up with, the shit he had to put up with and shit you’ll never put up with again.
Relationships can be a lot of things. They can hurt, they can maim and they can make you never want to trust someone again. They can also be fun, enlightening and crazy experiences, but what remains constant is that, in the end, you almost always want to get back on the ride, in hopes that maybe one day you’ll get on, receive the thumbs-up from the operator, take off and stay on longer than 10 seconds. At 20, however, I’m not looking for permanency – far from it – a long-term relationship is so far from my mind that no NASA radar system could detect it. So, I have to ask myself: Why am I still in line?
Every time, the lines got too long to wait for the big coasters, so we’d go on something smaller, that is wait-less and not nearly as substantial, but fun nonetheless. Why do we always rush to get in the big line for a relationship, when there are millions of fun and low-maintenance rides to go on in the meantime? Still, when those get too tedious, annoying or frustrating, I know that I can always look to my friends to keep me entertained during the in-between.
– Erin Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.