I need to tell you a story, but I kind of don’t want to. Because even though it ends well, it started out very, very painfully.
You may not believe it, but I didn’t know I was fat. I mean, I knew I weighed more than I wanted. I knew I was bigger than other people. But I thought that I carried it well, that I wasn’t all that big, that no one would notice. I believed that I could pull off, “I’m really tired today” when I couldn’t walk from one place to another. I thought I could fool people by saying “I’m eating crap today” as if I didn’t do it every day. I really believed I was above average with weight, but not frighteningly so.
And then we went to Busch Gardens. I’ve been going there my whole life. I’ve ridden roller coasters as long as I can remember. And so it never occurred to me that there’d be anything wrong with standing in line for Apollo’s Chariot. But years ago – maybe… 6 or more – I got into the seat and they couldn’t snap me in. Apollo’s has this evil lap thing – no real harness. And it’s designed for smaller people. They (now) even have a chair outside of the line so that “larger guests” can make sure they fit before getting on. I could rant about that, but it’s not the point.
The point is that I waited in line, suspecting nothing. I sat down in the seat. Everyone loaded. And then they couldn’t latch the restraint. And asked me to get off.
I didn’t know I was that fat.
And it was SO, SO traumatizing.
I quit the park. I was miserable. I stopped riding all kinds of rides. I was depressed. It was awful. In fact, though my friends could tell you my life tends to be an open book, I told very, very few people about it.
But I tell you this depressing story in order for you to appreciate (or maybe in order for ME to appreciate) what happened yesterday. I waited in line for an hour and sat, somewhat nervously, back in that seat. And when they released the latches, I pulled it down over me. And it stayed. And I rode the roller coaster.
I’m a size 12 now, so there wasn’t actually any doubt that I’d be able to, but the whole hour in line, I was still nervous. I looked around at the people in line, trying to gauge where I fell in comparison. Was I bigger or smaller than the woman in front of me? (I stared at her for 30 minutes, but still have no idea.) That girl over there; I’m surely smaller than her. Will they all be able to ride? Is anyone here going to be kicked off? Does anyone not know? (And would anyone actually sit in the seat at the front of the line with a large, bold sign over it that says, “For our larger guests”?)*
In the end, of course, I was fine. I had room to spare (and probably pulled the thing a little too tight in my panic. The ride was amazing. It’s been so long since I’ve ridden a roller coaster. The hills! Floating up in your seat! Screaming at the top of your lungs! I can’t wait to do it again.
And, even though it’s a tough memory to relive, I’m really proud of myself. I can ride coasters again. I can ride anything in that damn park (some toddler rides excluded). And no one blinked when buckling me in.
*I just checked their site looking for the exact wording, and apparently they will ask you to try out the seat if they think you won’t fit. I would have to leave the park right then.