I have such a day etched forever in my memory. I’ve actually been blessed with many wonderful days, but one stands out — probably because it occurred in my youth, when emotions are new and strong.
I was probably 19 years old and out on a date with the love of my life, Valerie. It was a rare evening where I had enough money in my pocket to show her a good time, and Val was in a fantastic mood from the moment I escorted her to our waiting limousine: my 1977 Chevette.
It was a beautiful warm summer evening with little humidity and we drove with the windows down as we took a roundabout route to Geauga Lake Park, at that time an amusement park almost on the level of Cedar Point.
The entire evening was amazing. Our conversation sparkled and so did Val’s eyes. Lines moved quickly, the temperature was perfect and our food was hot and fresh. Our arms entwined as we walked down the midway, deciding which attraction to check out next.
Finally we had fully explored half the park and were ready to see the rest, but it was a long walk to the other side and we’d been on our feet for hours.
Then we heard the train whistle.
Geauga Lake had a train that circled the park — visitors would often have to pause at the entrance as warning gates came down and the train passed by— and we thought, why not ride the train to the other side and give our feet a break?
We waited a few moments at the station for the train to arrive, then got on and sat close as it made its way slowly around the park. As we rode, the park with all its lights, noise and excitement was on our left; to the right was a grassy embankment. We were lost in the magic of the evening and each other.
The steam engine slowed as it rounded the turn toward our destination, the far station. But it didn’t slow as much as it should have. We realized the train wasn’t going to stop at all; it was just going to circle back to the original departing point! And then — and this is the moment that for me is frozen in time —Val and I looked at each other, looked at the grassy hill to our right, and at the same instant exclaimed: “Do you want to jump?”
Just before the train pulled into the vacant station with its redwood platform, we leaped from the train and onto the grass, tumbling and rolling some 20 feet to the bottom of the hill where we lay gasping for breath, tears in our eyes from our laughter.
It was a while before we got up.
The rest of the night was fantastic as well, but the details are a blur. The clarity of my memory ends at the bottom of that hill. But I’ll never forget the smallest detail of the tumble itself.
What of you? Is there a moment that is special in your life, one that holds magic to this day? If you care to write a few details and send them to me at the email address below or in care of this paper, I’ll print some of the more interesting responses as space allows.
It’s always good to recall special moments, and to find that their magic still has its effect deep inside you.