The summer between elementary and high school, my best friend Chloe and I spent most of our Saturdays at Amuseland, the theme park conveniently located down the street from our neighborhood. My mom would drop us off on her way to work in the mornings and then pick us up on her way home. We reported to Amuseland like it was our job. Occasionally, we’d run into kids from school, or even bring them along with us, but the best days were when we’d go alone. 

Despite the long lineups at the popular tourist destination, we could proudly say we’d been on all the rides multiple times. We were thrill ride fanatics, riding all of the scariest ones without second thought, loving every minute of it. It was any kid’s dream.

We knew the park grounds like the back of our hands. We knew that all the annoying Bridgewood kids hung out on “Guido Hill,” that the best pizza was found in ChildTown and that Screaming Jets was always to be avoided because once a kid threw up when it was upside down, and the vomit landed on the people directly below him. There was our joint favourite rollercoaster, BrainBurster; our favourite small rides, Tornado and Spine-Chiller respectively; the thrill ride that just boring, Incubus; the roller coaster that was so overrated, Whirlwind; the one we’d always skip, The Vampire; and many many other rides.

“Wanna go on Clear Liquid Gully?” I asked Chloe as we sat on a curb one Saturday, eating our foot-long hotdogs. CLG was one of my favourite rides in the park. It was an impressively long ride aboard a river raft through real rapids with water spilling in from all sides. The raft would spin during the ride, so it was up to fate to decide who’s going to go backwards through the cave, get splashed, or end up right below the waterfall. Visitors at the park could also pay 25 cents to set off water bombs as they watched the journey from the path above. Sometimes we’d get off completely dry, and at other times we’d get soaked. The luck of the draw was what I loved about that ride.

“Yeah, it doesn’t look that busy today,” Chloe noted. The biggest downfall to Clear Liquid Gully is that it had one of the notoriously longest lineups in the entire park. Especially on the hottest summer days, you could be stuck in the wooded queue for at least an hour. 

“That’s probably because it’s not that hot out today. It’s kind of cloudy,” I observed. 

We raced through the winding line up through the trees until we arrived at that familiar brown log house and stepped onto the spinning turnstile for boarding. They let us ride on the raft just the two of us, despite it seating six, because there weren’t that many people around that day. We sat opposite each other, trying to spin the raft to get wet. Somehow we both avoided the water fall as it splashed viciously through the middle of the raft. 

“That sucks,” I said as we left the ride. I felt a drip on my nose from above. I turned to check out the back of my flared Parasuco jeans. “I hardly even got wet.”

“Me neither,” Chloe said with a splash of water on the side of her Adidas t-shirt. “What next?”

“Let’s go into the theatre,” I said, referring to the ride where the fancy seat moves as you watch a huge screen. The current picture playing was of an adventure with Spongebob chasing a rogue pickle under the sea. 

When we exited the Spongebob ride, the clouds had turned dark and ominous, and people were seeking shelter at the ride exit, from the light sprinkle of rain that had began to fall. Chloe and I walked right through the crowd, knowing Amuseland’s best kept secret: the ride lineups were always the shortest when it rained a little. 

“Let’s go on Hydra Flame!!” Chloe exclaimed, and we stepped into the drizzle. We walked across the park, not caring at all that we were getting wet. They let us ride Hydra Flame 4 times in a row because there was nobody else in line. That’s 8 loops. By the time we exited, our adrenaline was fully charged. 

By then, the thunder was clapping and the rain was pouring and all the rides were shutting down. But we were wild and unrestrained and had a whole deserted park to amuse ourselves with, and we were going to make the best of it. We always did. 

Chloe led the way as we marched through the park like we owned the place. We jumped into puddles as we sang our favourite songs as loud as we could. We ran and we laughed and we caught some pretty concerned looks. We didn’t care that our socks were squishing in our shoes, that our hair was frizzing up, or that my thick black eyeliner was running down my face. We had nowhere to be, no one to impress, and in that moment during that summer right before we started high school, nothing else in the world seemed to matter because I was having a blast with my best friend. 

We’re older now. Both of us are prone to motion sickness now. We don’t run outside through the rain. We don’t walk around singing our favourite songs. We are sensible adults with grown-up lives. But we’re still best friends. And every time I hear that thunder start to rumble, I think fondly about those last few times when we could be wholly free before real life caught up to us. 

2003

56 thoughts on “The Fountain

  1. How lucky for you that you lived down the road from am amusement park..what fun. I had to wait until the travelling fair came to town and even then I wasn’t allowed on my own. I used to sneak over though when I was 14 with a friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Going to the travelling fair in secret at 14 sounds like quite an adventure too!

      We didn’t realize how lucky we were at the time to live next to such a special place, but we do now!

      Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Aww 🙂

    One time I took a three-day trip to Disneyland with friends (I was, um, 31, I think?), and around 5pm on the last day, it started pouring rain. The park emptied, but we stayed until closing and got soaked… we didn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes for anything. It was awesome.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great story! How wonderful to have a friend like that.

    I didn’t enjoy a lot about teen years but I do fondly remember how much more uninhibited I was then and at other times in my life, and how wonderful it felt to be silly and do stupid things.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Even though I didn’t have this exact experience as a kid, I felt the nostalgia HARD. I agree there are triggers in our daily lives which recall specific moments we had as kids…for me, it’s the scent of new sneakers, the rubber of it reminding me of the excitement of getting new running shoes during my cross-country days in high school. It’s also running in my neighborhood and breathing in the particular neighborhood smell (there really is one!) that takes me back to my runs I did in high school, the exact paths and all…nostalgia really is a powerful sensation, and your story certainly put it beautifully into words. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh, I could almost feel your running memories! Thanks so much for sharing. As someone who lives almost exclusively in her own nostalgia, its great to hear other people can enjoy it too.

      Thanks for dropping by 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are a great story teller! I love the message that comes with your story as well and you mange to take us (readers) back to our childhood days and I’m sure also to many more other memories. Thank you for that. You reminded me what I love most about reading. I see my own picture or pictures, reading with imagination is unlike watching a movies that show us all the same picture/s. I love that my imagination went wild just like you’ve experienced with your amusement park rides and there’s just so much more that happened whilst reading your post, thank you very much 🤗😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. That’s kind of the magic of words, isn’t it? They can evoke universal experiences while being very personal. Comments like yours really encourage me to keep writing!

      Thanks so much for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The innocence of children! We’d dance in the rain and jump in rain puddles and stay outside playing in the snow until it was demanded that we came inside. Now, as adults, we carefully dodge rain puddles, put up an umbrella at the first drop of rain and don’t stay outside in the snow longer than absolutely necessary. We avoid the scary rides at amusement parks, if we visit the parks at all. Waiting in a line of ANY kind is considered a waste of our valuable time.

    Thank you for reminding me to occasionally step out of my adult persona and give space to my inner child to play and frolic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Absolutely! So true on all counts. Especially about the lineups! I can’t believe how many hours we spent waiting to get onto rides back then, but when that’s your only priority, it doesn’t seem to matter too much.

      You’re right, we can all benefit from nurturing that inner child every so often.

      Thanks so much for reading 🙂

      Like

  7. You revealed the real magic of amusement parks as a kid, which was the freedom from parents, boundaries, and responsibilities, without any of the typical worries. Go on whatever ride you choose. Act however you feel. It’s a foretaste of the independence of being an adult without any of the bad stuff. Really enjoyed this throwback to childhood. We had access to Disneyland and a handful of other amusement parks growing up, so I relate to the energy and excitement of being able to enjoy them with just your friends.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow, this really took me back years and years to teenage adventures in Canada’s Wonderland when it first opened when I was in Grade 11. Haven’t been there in so long–need to plan a trip once this lockdown is over!

    Liked by 2 people

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