My daughter calls the apex of the roller coaster and the sudden drop that sends you spinning at what feels like 3Gs, a “vagina drop.” Yes, my 12-year old uses that word. In our house, body parts are body parts—not birds and flowers.
This year, she graduated from riding the kiddie rollercoasters that just kind of cruise along swaying from side to side to her first “loopy” rollercoaster this year. She held my hand (hers was cold and clammy) even before the shoulder bars were lowered and in a sudden fit of panic, as our cart began to ascend, she said she’d had enough and wanted to get off.
Of course, there was no time for doubt to set in. She had barely finished her sentence when we were sent into a careening high-speed spin that sent our cheeks rippling in the wind and our eyeballs back into their sockets. Our conversation from then on was just shrieks and screams.
When the ride ended, I asked her how it was. She said with much flourish and bravado, “It was one awesome vagina drop!” which made me burst out laughing.
Apparently, the moment of intense anticipation before the rollercoaster took off made her feel like her vagina had jumped up to her throat. She probably meant that her stomach was going to lurch, but well, when you’re the daughter of a feminist/sexual health educator, that’s the description you’ll come up with.
I was just relieved that I didn’t have to give her the “See, that wasn’t so bad” talk or feel guilty about traumatizing her. She was already pumped up from the adrenaline rush and gibbering about the next ride. (And thankfully, too. Hey, it was a graduation for me, too. I had to forego a number of rollercoaster rides when she wasn’t tall enough to ride the big ones.)
I don’t remember my first “loopy” rollercoaster ride anymore, but I did remember the major vagina drops of my time—some of which did not involve getting on a rollercoaster.
I think I felt momentarily paralyzing fear about doing anything really scary for the first time. Like when I first decided to be a solo parent. Barely out of my mid-20s, my life was put into fast forward and my marriage was over shorter than the time it took to queue for the hottest ride in the amusement park.
Or the time I signed over 20 years of my life to single-handedly take on a mortgage. Then after, in my mid-30s, I left my corporate career as a banker to become a writer. I had no idea if and how it would work, and only knew that I had to try. All I could do was brace myself and prepare for any sudden drops.
In both cases, I didn’t know what loops and spins I would be in for and more than once, I wanted to get off the ride. There were many minor and near miss vagina drops in between as well. And now, as I approach my final year in my 30s, there are still moments when I feel like my vagina has shot up to my throat obstructing my breathing.
The only difference is I just don’t fear them as much anymore.
I’m not exactly addicted to the thrill of flying the seat of your pants, but I dare say that I can look most vagina drops squarely in the eye and mentally tell myself, “Bring it!”.
Sure, I haven’t always come out unscathed by these vagina drops, but I have come to think of battle scars as reminders of lessons that are best not forgotten.
On some rides, I’ve even managed to keep my eyes open as my world is turned up on its head. And sometimes, even momentarily, I’ve been able to brazenly shoot my arms up in the air, scream in thrilled delight, let go and enjoy the ride…knowing of course that the lap bars and safety belts have been securely fastened.
This was also published here.