Friday, August 03, 2007

Life is a rollercoaster

Have you been on Oblivion at Alton Towers? Check the pic.

I've discovered/ created that preparing for a wedding is like that ride.

You wait in a long queue. The anticipation begins to build. You hear the screams of on the ride. Is that terror? Is that delight? You think you have ages to wait.

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the queue gets shorter. You realise your time is coming.

The screams are louder. You hear the sound of the machinery. People shuffle along without much thought - like animals being led to the abbatoir - there is no escape. There is nowhere to go but forward, onward and upward. You look up and see the structure of the ride. You hope that the seats hold you in firmly. You hope there's no chance of getting hurt...in fact you just put your faith in logic and say "it's safe, they've tested it, it'll all be ok - it's entertainment, and I've paid for it".

Despite that, your heart rate increases slightly.

Now you can see people getting off the ride. The cars pull in. Someone gets off, and their legs crumple. Are they joking? Or is it really like that? The heart rate increases another notch. Is that excitement or fear?

Hmm...you've heard someone say that the physical expressions of excitement and fear are exactly the same - it's only the interpretation of those physical expressions that differ.

You tell yourself it's excitement - yes it's excitement.

And now you feel the rush of air as the cars go by. You're next.

Seconds later (or is that minutes?) - it's back. Palms are a little sweaty now. You smile to the person and group of people you're with. You ask yourself if it's a real smile, or if it's there to cover up something. How are you really feeling?

You walk on and take your place. Is that noise the machinery around you or your heartbeat in your eardrums? It doesn't matter. You sit down, and pull down the mechanism. Questions flow through your mind: will it keep me secure? Will I be ok? Will everything stay in my pockets? Should I put some stuff over there with the bags? Will my eyes pop out of my head because I'm wearing contacts? Will I throw up? Will someone throw up over me? How fast does this go? How safe is this ride? Have there been any documented cases of people dying on roller-coasters?

You're strapped in. There really is no going back now. You smile wanly at the person you're with. They make a joke. You make a joke. You're ok. Really -you're ok. You tell yourself you're ok. You hear a clunk, and the ride starts to move. More questions running like a ticker-tape through your head: shall I put my hands in the air? Am I too scared? Shall I scream at the top of my voice to hide how scared I am and make out like it's a joke and I'm enjoying it? Am I going to enjoy it?

You think about what the person you're with is thinking. Are they as scared as you? You heard from someone somewhere that everyone's scared of everyone else - that's the great big cosmic joke...but who gives a shit about that? THIS IS ONLY A ROLLER-COASTER RIDE!

The ride starts it's climb to the peak. You know what's coming. Or you think you know what's coming. Your imagination has played it over in your head. You've seen what the ride does and how people have reacted. You've seen how people have come off the ride.

And then it hits you. Actually - you've no idea what's going to happen.

But you tell yourself - this is only a ride. What could possibly go wrong?

And the ascent continues. And you think you know what's coming...

Yep - that's where we're at now. That's what it's like when you're on oblivion...I mean planning a wedding.

In my imagination - and from what all the people I know who've got married in the last five years have told me - the day goes really fast and it's exciting, and scary, profound and profane all at once.

Just like oblivion.

If you've seen the film Parenthood - you'll know how perceptive the older generation can be - the closing sequence when all hell is breaking loose onstage at the school play - and the camerawork pans as if they're on a roller-coaster...its exhilarating and scary at the same time.

That's what I'm talking about! If preparing a wedding is like that...well what's married life and beyond going to be like?

Fuck it - bring it on.

J.

PS OK OK OK! I know this post has been brought to you by Ronan Keating (bleurgh) but the sentiment expressed is perfectly captured by this song...and it's not like he wrote it...