Now I Understand Trigger Warnings (Not the Gun Kind)

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There is a commercial running on various streaming services which causes me great distress. Without the benefit of any trigger warning—which now make eminent sense to me—I was traumatized and thrust back into one of the most disheartening and tragic events of my youth.

First, a little background.

When was eight or nine years old, my father, then a member of the Rhode Island State Police, acquired, through the generosity of a supporter of the members of that organization, a pass to Lincoln Park. This was a Rocky Point-like amusement park located in exotic Massachusetts near Fall River. I don’t t recall the exact location (likely a protective measure of my subconscious to ameliorate the painful memories.)

At this park, there was a ride only big kids like me could ride. My siblings weren’t ever close to being eligible. The one issue standing between me and the glory of commanding my own vehicle was the height requirement.

Each year for what seem like forever I would look forward to the park because this was the year, only to have my hopes dashed as I failed to measure up.

One year, I was within an inch. Clearly, next year was my year.

All through the Fall into Winter and Spring I would measure the change in me. By the summer I had added two inches. This was indeed my moment in the sun.

I can still recall the Friday night when my father came home with the pass (it was shared among the troopers with children) and the excitement began to build. I am certain I didn’t sleep that night, envisioning racing around the track, driving that car, achieving my dream.

The ride to the park that Saturday seemed interminable. The roads were longer, slower, and jammed with traffic. Sitting in the rear-facing seat of our Country Squire station wagon, my legs bounced in anticipation.

Then, the moment arrived. We pulled into the lot, walked to the entrance, my father produced the pass, and we were in.

I can still hear my mother’s voice fading in the distance as I ran to the ride. “Waiiiiiit for us…….”

I didn’t. This was my year!

They found me standing in disbelief next to the measuring stick. I was more than tall enough. I was more than ready. I was more than prepared.

What I was not prepared for was the other sign. Closed for repairs.

My heart sunk in my chest. My hopes melted in that hot summer sun. All the anticipation was for nothing.

But, somehow, I remained an optimist. There would be other years. There would be another day to claim my glory.

My hope never faded.

The park, which had given me so many years of pleasure, moments of anticipation, and dreams of what it would be like, closed the following year.

So next time somebody puts something on that reignites that disappointment in me, I will not be responsible for my actions.

You must be this tall, damn you fate!

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