First of all, yes. There was a brief point in my life where I both dyed my hair blonde (and it turned orange three days later) and dyed my hair “Run Lola, Run Red” (that took about two weeks to turn orange). This photo was taken during one of those red-to-orange transitions.
But more important than my hair is the location of this photo. Space Mountain at Disneyworld. But before I tell you why this photo matters so much, we have to go back in time…
I first visited Disneyworld when I was eight years old, and most of it was a phenomenal time.
Except for Space Mountain. Space Mountain was The Devil.
My mom, in addition to being diabetic, also had heart issues, and so as we stood on line for Space Mountain we got increasingly worried by the signs we kept passing saying things like If you have heart problems, you shouldn’t ride this ride! My mom insisted it would be fine, and my dad was totally gung-ho. I was never a roller-coaster person, so eight-year-old me was a little nervous, but even I wanted to ride the ride and find out what it was like.
So we got in the car…keep in mind that this was 1988, and Disneyworld still had the cars with seatbelts, not lap bars (which were installed in 1989). Also, two people could fit across in the seatbelt cars, so my dad and I sat in the back seat with a big seatbelt across both our laps, and my poor mom sat up front. Since I was a little scared, my dad sat me on his lap, which you CAN DO ON A RIDE WHERE TWO PEOPLE CAN SIT IN ONE SEAT WITH ONLY ONE BIG SEATBELT! WHAT THE HECK WERE ALL THE ADULTS IN MY LIFE AND THE ADULTS RUNNING DISNEYWORLD THINKING?!
The ride started.
Whizzing and jostling, whizzing and jostling. I saw my mother’s white knuckles on either side of her as she clutched the sides of the car for dear life. That was while I could see, before I started slipping off my father’s lap and out from under the seatbelt to the point that he was holding onto me in a chokehold, keeping me in the speeding roller coaster by my head. I remember my left leg hanging out the side of the car and thumping on the outside of it as we turned this way and that. It was the most miserable experience of my little life. When the ride was over, I was in tears, my mother was green, and my father had this sheepish look on his face like he knew the whole thing had been a bad fucking idea. In that moment, I hated Disneyworld, and I hated roller coasters, and all the money in the world wouldn’t have gotten me to go on Space Mountain ever again.
A group of friends and I went to Orlando when I was 25 (wow – almost 10 years ago. Yowza.) and my friend Katie’s parents allowed us the use of their time share. As it turns out, Katie had a similar Space Mountain experience when she was a kid, so in the interest of avenging our childhood selves, we decided that we would indeed ride our old nemesis, Space Mountain. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad!
Don’t get me wrong, I screamed my head off. But it was more psychological than because I faced any actual danger. The lap bars really squish you in there nice and tight – and let’s face it, my ass had gotten so big by 25 that there was no way I would come dislodged from that intergalactic luge.
So, this photo was taken after I faced down my old foe, secure in the knowledge that I could beat it, and mocking its ridiculous power over me for so long. Eff you, Space Mountain. You are not the boss of me.