Updated: Dec 13, 2020
Mary and I try to pretend we’re too old to be impressed by Disneyland, but it’s really amazing. The rides go on so much longer than anything I’ve ever been on before, and we aren’t the only teenagers there.
The lines suck, though. It’s summer and crowded. My parents insist we all stay together. Fortunately, the little girls are both tall enough to ride anything, and my parents let Mary and me pretend we’re not with them while we wait in lines, so other teenagers talk to us. Some cute boys flirt with us for over an hour while we wait for the Space Mountain ride. They’re from Arizona, and their parents let them do some of the rides on their own because they’ve got really little kids with them and because they’ve been there a bunch of times.
“It’s better to come when school’s in session,” says the one who’s been focusing on me. “The lines aren’t nearly as bad then. That’s when the locals come.”
“Local kids come here?”
“Yeah, they get season passes and treat it like any other amusement park.
That idea floors me. Maybe there will be benefits to living somewhere new, though it’s going to be a small town again. But maybe we’ll go into Chicago sometimes. Or maybe Rockland, where my dad’s going to work, will be big enough to have interesting stuff happening.
We stay at this condo right by the park. It’s some kind of perk from Dad’s new position. Once we’re back at the condo, Mom and Dad let Mary and me hang out in the public areas by ourselves. There’s a big pool and two whirlpools and a recreation room with a big flat screen, game tables, and some video machines. There’s a workout room, too. We’re supposed to be sixteen to use any of this without adult supervision, but no one questions us. Mostly it’s older people, but there are a few other teenagers there and we have fun flirting with some college guys, too.
After three days at the theme parks, my parents can’t take it anymore. We get into the rental car and head to the beach for the next three days. Now THAT is awesome. It’s my first time seeing the ocean. We drive past beaches with huge waves and lots of surfers to a beach they recommended at the condo, where the waves are a lot smaller. We’re all good swimmers, from the river, but Dad makes us watch awhile before we go in with the boogie boards we borrowed from the condo.
“You have to keep alert,” he says. “Sometimes there’s a rogue wave a lot larger than the others, for one thing. Also, when you’re in where the waves break, you have to dive under so they don’t pound you into the ocean floor. See how those kids are doing it? Use the leash and let go of the board.”
“Okay, I got it,” I say. The other girls echo the same.
“You actually want to go out past where they’re breaking, but it’s likely to be over your head. The salt makes it easier to float and tread water, even if you lose your board, but be careful not to stay out so long you have trouble getting back in past the breakers.”
“We’re coming out with you,” says Mom. “But we’re going to be riding waves, too, so stick with your buddy and watch out for each other.”
That’s my parents, super careful. But I don’t mind, because I know that’s why they’ve never had a serious accident with all the mountains they’ve climbed and the rapids they’ve run.
In spite of Mom demanding we keep slathering up with sunscreen all day, we all get burned where our swimsuits expose more skin. My stomach’s still hot when we fly back to Denver. Dad walks us out to the car and gets his business stuff out of the trunk. He packed his work clothes in a separate suitcase and left it in the car when we left for California. He gives us hugs, then heads back into the airport for his flight to Chicago.
It’s late and the little girls and Mary are all asleep before we get to the tunnel above Golden. It’s a quiet three-hour trip home. This is really happening.
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