Saturday, we went to Six Flags, like we do every year with my company. The anticipation you feel for this day definitely rivals that of Christmas. And I think I just realized why: this is the sixth year in a row we’ve visited Six Flags with my company. Because we’ve moved around so much, because we only recently stopped traveling every year for Christmas (two years ago), this is the oldest, yearly, unchanged tradition in your life.
I was in the basement bathroom last week and I heard you racing from the second floor, a breathless stairway sprint down two flights. “Daddy-Daddy-Daddy!” you bellowed through the door.
“I just realized it’s six days until Six Flags!”
You realized this because you created your own theme park advent calendar (really, just some boxes drawn onto a white-board magnet with words to the effect of “__ Days Until Six Flags.” You had been marking off the days and counted six.
Six Flags Day is celebrated in many phases.
1. I get the email that invites our family and we put the date on the calendar. You do a dance and ask many questions I can’t answer yet.
2. You deal with the anticipation. This year involved your advent calendar and frequent checks of our weather apps and a day-before YouTube troll of all their roller coasters. But every year involves processing by bringing it up a lot in conversation: Do you think the line for Goliath will be long? Three more days ’till Six Flags! What color do you think the tee shirts will be this year?
3. I pick up our tee shirts and tickets and bring them home. You comment on the colors and compare them with past years. You ask us which was our favorite color shirt of all time (yours was the blue one last year.)
4. Mom and I secretly exchange our own reluctance to go the night before–exhausted at the prospect–while you celebrate, oblivious, in the next room.
5. We all wind up having fun. As expensive, hot and crowded as it is; as bad as the vegetarian-hostile food is at Picnic Grove, we ride grown-up roller coasters, scream like teenagers, eat yucky pretzels, get drenched on the log ride, and laugh at the look on Momma’s face when the American Eagle rolls to a stop.
6. We go home so tired, we do nothing but feed the hangry dogs, stare at the TV and then go to sleep.
I doubt I’ll be at my company forever. In fact, I may only be here for a few more years (just a hunch). I never really know what the future holds because your mother and I can never seem to put roots down and feel like we belong anywhere. When I think of getting another job or moving away, I worry about how you’d take losing this annual trip.
But I hope it teaches you that you do value experiences more than things–at least more than you know at age 9.