Feeling Alive

It all started with the county fair beer garden. No big thing, really, just a few friends, meeting up for a drink or two one evening, enjoying the fair while it was in town. Seeing as how we are elderly now, inside the beer garden was far to loud for conversation, so we found ourselves sitting outside, within view of the midway.

Somehow the topic of rides came up, and I shared an unfortunate story about myself and the zipper.  It involved pee. In my pants. AHEM. [Edited to add: this unfortunate experience happened when I was very young. High school or early college. A lifetime ago, really.] Anyway. The next thing I knew, someone (supposedly moi, but I don’t remember actually proposing the idea) suggested the four of us should go ride the zipper. Did that sink in? Ride. The. Zipper. RIDE IT. THE ZIPPER. That…. you know, zips around, all upside-down like.

And not like “Hey, someday we should ride the zipper!” No. We found ourselves propelled toward the zipper RIGHT THAT MINUTE.

It was crazy and silly and weird because none of us really wanted to ride it. In fact ONE of us very vocally DID NOT want to ride it (Hi, C!). But there we were, and it was clear that tonight night was for making a story.

Why? WHY would four grown women choose to do such a thing, especially when none of them really wanted to? I’ve been thinking about that a great deal, and the only answer I can come up with is that it had been too long since I had really felt alive.  You know, like, A-L-I-V-E. Adrenaline. Not knowing whether to laugh or scream or run or maybe do all three. A thrill. Taking a leap when every single sensible brain cell in my skull was calmly explaining why I should NOT do that very thing, while something else was urging me to do it… DO IT. It’s the kind of feeling that should not be ignored.

As a young person, I felt that alive feeling fairly often. Or, at least, often compared to now. Thinking back to childhood and collegehood, there were so many of those moments.  Jumping off the high diving board at the community pool the first time. Sneaking out of a friend’s sleepover party and walking to a park in the middle of the night. Riding my bike down that super big, super steep hill despite being told not to by my parents. Getting ready to go out with friends wondering if so-and-so might just hold my hand that night. First kisses, and the first time driving without my parents in the car. Breaking curfew, going on my first road trip with friends, cliff jumping, and buying groceries and some new! coasters! for that first apartment. [Insert vaguely legal and blatantly illegal antics from college here.]

These days though, not much gives me that feeling, save for maybe finding out about a new pregnancy (no, not pregnant) or buying a new house/car. Life is good, so good, here in the safety lane, where everyone is wearing  helmets/seat belts/mouth guards, it truly is. It’s steady and calm and predictable. But once in awhile it’s also good to experience that feeling again, to feel really truly alive for just a few moments. To do something that almost-quite-literally scares the shit out of you. You know?

I suspect this is why so many 30-40 year olds take up running, marathoning, triatholoning. It’s probably also why people everywhere have bucket lists packed with things like sky diving and bungee jumping. As adults, there’s no going off the high dive again for the first time. For many of us, there are no more first kisses, first dates, new engagements, new babies. So we make lists of things to do that make our hearts pump in our throats. Or we go, unsuspecting,  to the beer garden with our friends and end up on the zipper. You know, either way.

Riding the zipper, by the way, actually was NOT on my bucket list. I didn’t even KNOW I wanted to do it. Nay, I didn’t want to do it, not really. But sometimes when the opportunity presents itself to feel alive, when the very idea of it scares you silly, you just have to go with it.

And the actual ride? Honestly, it was pretty awful. I laughed and laughed throughout it, but about halfway through I was ready for it to be over, and realized I a) didn’t know when it would end and b) had ZERO control over when it would end. I had no idea if we had one more time around or 20… or 100. The only way to survive that realization was to accept the fact I had no control (a lesson, of itself) and keep laughing. And try not to barf/pee. Man that cage jerks you around, and you never know which direction it’s going to spin next. Crazy.

So tell me– have you done something lately that made you feel alive? When was the last time you did something that scared you, just for the sake of doing it?

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12 thoughts on “Feeling Alive

  1. Well, this seems lame by comparison, but when we were on vacation I went on a lot of bike rides — not like the Tour de France or anything, just toodling around on a vintage Schwinn Cruiser — and that made me feel like a kid again. It feels so FREEING, somehow. I am considering buying a bike so I can incorporate more of that feeling into my very routine-driven life. Of course, riding in the big city will likely not be so carefree…

    Being at the beach also makes me feel alive, not in an adrenaline way, but in a more relaxed way. The sound of the ocean and the big, open sky just make me love life. I wish I could live at the beach, so much I feel like I could burst. Ah, well. At least I can vacation there.

    • I totally agree that riding a bike feels so FREE and reminds me so much of being a kid. It was one of childhood’s greatest freedoms- that ability to fly around town via my own power.

      And that feeling of wanting some other life so much you could burst? Yeah, I’ve had that too. When I visit the Black Hills sometimes it hits me how much I love it there, how beautiful it is, how the smell of the air just MAKES SENSE to me. Sigh. Good thing life is so good here; makes those moments easier to take. 🙂

  2. I love this! It’s so true about already experiencing so many firsts and needing something else to make you feel like you’re really living!
    I’d say last night’s water gun fight in our backyard had me feeling pretty alive. It’s not that exciting, but the thrill of the chase and of being chased, had me pretty happy.

    • This made me laugh-snort. Naure makes me feel alive too. But doing something that scares me, even just once every 10 years, not only makes for a good story, but…. well, I guess I DO enjoy the rush. My friend C would probably agree with you though. I’m not sure if she’ll ever forgive me for the Zipper Night.

  3. Great post, Marie. I love it. I also love how your write about Zipper at the end, like a metaphor for life. Life jerks you around, and you never know if you’ll barf or laugh, and it’s crazy. So, while life can seem so lame and mundane sometimes, it’s like the ultimate Zipper in a way, too.

    You’ve inspired me to find my own Zipper, though, if only for a couple minutes!

    • That IS a good metaphor… because ultimately we don’t have control over when life either, or when we get off of life’s ride. So may as well accept that and keep laughing, ya know?

  4. I last rode the zipper about 15 years ago with a friend and all I remember is screaming until I was horse and my friend finally just repeating “make it stop” over and over. Let’s just say it went on WAY too long 😉

    I find nowadays I feel alive when I do things like going to an 80s prom with good friends or having dinner with friends and laughing about everything or even doing Zumba when the vibe is just right. I guess those all have in common kind of letting it all hang out for awhile and not caring about the bigger things in life for a bit.

  5. I hate to steal what Lawyerish said, but in April when we visited my parents in FL, I rode a bicycle for the first time in at least 20 years. I LIVED on my bike as a kid for many years and to be back on a bicycle harkened back to those days. Freedom and exploration all with the wind blowing my hair. It was awesome.

  6. Do you remember that old Steve Martin movie, “Parenthood”? This post reminds me of the scene at the very end where he’s imagining his life as a rollercoaster.

  7. I received a text the other night from my 22 year old daughter (who is always cautious, to the point I’ve called her a “grandma”) the text read “I just jumped off a roof into a pool!!! I’am SO proud”. Yeah. Evidently she needed a heart pumpin thrill. Shit, no wonder I’am going gray.

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