Why I cried at Coney Island

coney-islandWhen I realized there was still a good 40 seconds of adrenaline-wrought torture left, I wondered if there was any way to stop the Coney Island Cyclone, to just hop out. I was done, but it wasn’t.

I don’t like roller coasters, I tolerate them. I had never heard of The Cyclone, never knew anything about it. I didn’t know this historic wooden coaster was built in 1927. Didn’t know it was officially declared a New York City Landmark. I didn’t know it would rattle me until liquid welled in my eyes (just welled, I swear I didn’t actually cry).

There was nothing wildly unusual about the ride–except for the steep $9 price tag. It had the standard slow crawl to the top, the plummet, some twists and turns and then the end, followed by a long exhale. It’s the rough ways of an aged ride on wooden tracks that makes the Cyclone a special experience. And by special I mean terrifying. Flail is the word that comes to mind. That’s what the coaster car was doing, flailing all over the tracks like it might suddenly unhitch.

People were thrilled, scared, crying (not me), ready for more, ready to get off.

It was an experience to be had and one that I would actually recommend. Not so much for the rush but for the right to say you did it, to be part of New York City’s history.

After the Cyclone, I had ice cream because that’s what you do to make everything all better. I lapped up my Coney’s Cones cookie monster scoop like a 4-year-old and went about enjoying the day.

Coney Island is beautiful and weird and sketchy and fun and now that I’ve been, I finally feel like I live in New York City.

Oh, and when you can’t decide between an original Nathan’s hotdog–because it’s not Coney Island without Nathan’s–and a chili dog, have both because it’s all about excess at this Brooklyn escape.