Once again, I am angry, devastated, and unsettled. Once again I want to grab a thousand lawmakers and lobbyists by the lapels and demand that they back down, back off, disarm. We are a continent of lead, awash in blood. How much longer will I be able to conceal the true horror of it from my kids? If they knew what happens here every day, every hour, they would probably never sleep again.
Or would they, as we do, assimilate this somehow as part of their everyday reality? In the absence of a nationwide uprising against our current situation, this is what those of us whose lives have somehow failed to have a ragged hole cut through them in the latest outrage seem to do.
As I did, yesterday, with my family. We headed to an amusement park for the day, with J’s nephew. It was a beautiful, warm, breezy day. People had died and been injured horribly overnight, but not close to where we were, so it was possible to do such a thing.
I think that the sinister event cast a shadow over the park, or maybe it was my thought overlay, as I looked around. There were staff everywhere in orange t-shirts, but I noticed none of them seemed to be security guards, save for two guys we only saw when we were leaving. And scores and scores of families queuing up for their next go-round on the next gravity-defying experience. I noticed at a certain point that many of the rides came from Germany (which felt creepy to me), and on the haunted house ride, one of the last we rode, there was a faded banner with the name of the ride in German, “Der Rickscha,” and a pervasive smell of mold as Young A and I sat in the dark in our rickshaw, pulled by a zombie with a black bag over its head, whipped around hairpin turns to horrors that were more annoying and ridiculous (except for the blood-curdling screams, those really were awful).
There were flying swings, which are my favorite ride, but the park is crammed into such a small space, they didn’t give the feeling of soaring, and it was hard to shed the idea I might smack into sign posts or other rides. I closed my eyes for a bit, that made it better.
I rode a kiddie roller coaster with Young J and Young A, but it wasn’t quite junior enough for me. I closed my eyes there too, which helped a little, but mostly, I felt myself click into Endurance Mode, something I’ve developed for use when called every two months into the tunnel for my brain MRI. This wasn’t a medical exam, though. I had opted to do this for fun! And it wasn’t remotely fun. I was enduring it and trying to gauge how Young A was handling it. He looked terrified by the end, but perhaps not, because by evening he said it was one of the best rides he’d been on all day. He is one complicated little dude.
The best ride of the day, for me, was J and I sitting in the back of an antique car while the kids sat in front and pretended to drive. A ride that was charming and mindless and most importantly, not trying to thrill us, not even a little bit.
4 thoughts on “Orlando (and the failure of amusement)”
Strange it is that we find it difficult to handle a tragedy when it hits home… We tend to comment on graver tragedies sometimes carelessly when it is remote. After all, it doesn’t affect us directly, we think. Truth is that every event in the world affects each and every being. We are connected, whether we like it or not. I understand how you feel. You question the fun derived from the outing with the kids when the tragedy of Orlando is in the back of your mind.
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Yes. Although independently of what happened, I was surprised at my failure to be thrilled by rides. It was a strange and disconnected feeling.
I probably cried 15 times on Sunday. I have friends in Florida, even in Orlando, who thankfully were not where the violence was. I kept hearing the news saying “worst mass shooting in US history,” like it’s some type of contest or award. What will it take for politicians to decide that lives are worth more than the money they get from the gun lobby? What will it take for gun lovers to understand that these weapons are only used for killing mass numbers of people? Could he have carried out this attack with a lesser weapon? Of course he could. And he would have done damage. But not as much damage as he was able to do because he could legally purchase an item that has only one use: killing mass numbers of people.
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I’m sorry and I hope your friends are safe. I wish I could spread a huge canopy over you that would protect you from further pain! But we live in the world. We have to move on, but that doesn’t mean we cannot stay outraged.