Tingling Over Tivoli

When the customs officer wishes me a happy 48 hours in Copenhagen, neither of us realise what lies ahead. The  friend I am visiting has laid some plans but surprises are in store.

My stay launches with a sunset boat cruise with the gang – convivial bubbles and snacks, a swim for them, then a delicious meal with some of the acres of chanterelles on sale in the local store.

The next day: Tivoli Gardens. It opened in 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world. The day starts harmlessly: admiring the flower balls, strolling the gardens

and feeling grateful to not be on The Spider – especially upon the return of at least one white face.

The rollercoaster exerts the first tug. The operator stands in the back, blonde hair streaming, breaking before speed builds too much, ducking at the last moment for the tunnels. I recall rides on another rollercoaster, albeit tamer than this.

So yes, I’ll have one ride with my three young companions. It’s a pleasing mixture of adrenalin and simple enjoyment.

Now, those whizzy pods on the undulating floor of another ride look manageable. Once in, the wheeling and tipping upside down feels random and that’s part of the fun. So is the squealing and laughing.

Somehow, my friend convinces me that an all-day ticket, as the three of them have, is a sensible option, “Just in case you want more”.

I don’t but he buys one for me anyway.

Once the psychological hurdle of having to make individual choices, and the hassle of purchasing tickets (which provided the excuse that it delayed everyone and therefore should be avoided) are removed, I have to grapple with the notion that I might want to participate. I teeter on the edge of fear and desire. Even contemplating riding propels me in a direction that feels to my fearful self like recklessness. Yet, I have a sense of being freed of myself; of getting out of my way.

What a gift to receive.

I look for something easy. Fatamorgana. I’ll spin gently around, checking out the city.

Two words – ‘centrifugal’ and ‘force’.

I spend part of the ride searching for that place in me that can acknowledge that previous riders have not been released into the air, sailing to death. Unfortunately, emotion stubbornly refuses to be guided by intellect. So I focus on my breathing and my hands. I cling to the seat, horribly aware that the smooth plastic offers absolutely no grip in the event of the safety harness opening.

Never again.

The simplicity of the giant golden drop (read ‘plummet’) appeals. The four of us clasp hands along the row. Here are the fantastic views of the city with time to take it all in. But the biggest pleasure lies elsewhere. The sound of my involuntary scream – so pure and high-pitched surprises me. I had no idea my body could do that. It flows out, painlessly. Later, we return to the ride. The mental and physical tingling as I hover above the literal and figurative ‘voids’ is tempered by experience. My scream is different too: more “Hello old friend you still scare me a little”, less “I can’t quite believe this”. I’m almost relaxed.

For truly relaxing though, one can’t beat The Monsoon. Water spurts up, the ride sways back and forth, up and down. Brilliant for the rag-doll approach and even better with closed eyes.

The loos are fun too.

In a day of many takeaways, my understanding of adrenalin was the most satisfying. Fairground adrenalin feels different from that besmirching adrenalin that drags through one as a result of wearying, habitual, self-told stories. That adrenalin diminishes. Fairground adrenalin is clean. It’s in service, flooding then quickly departing, leaving clarity, freshness and focus, a lightness of being.

What a gift to receive.


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