Got a taste, can't be saved, I'm a junkie for lifeI had my arms raised over my head just like the teenagers, freckles mixed with dirt, sprinkled across the bridge of my nose and my cheeks, braids loosened and tied in knots to keep them out of my way, too long bangs swept impatiently behind one ear, green eyes open wide as evening approached, the colored lights of the midway forming a glow around this huge field on the edge of nowhere, the small town where I was born and where still nothing happens, and still they greet me by name when I enter the small diner down on the road beside the river that empties into the sea. I never know which direction to take to get to Green Bay or to get out of town and go to the city. I never know which end is up when I'm there. I was never required to.
She fuels my fire and adrenaline high
My need for speed's got me gunning
One touch, she screams to keep it coming
Are you ready for the best damn ride of your life?
Gimme a "hell"
Gimme a "yeah"
Stand up right now
My job was to get sunburned and grow freckles and white streaks of sun in my hair and brown legs with pink shoulders and nose.
My job was to eat blue cotton candy (my favorite, always) and hold up one tiny wrist at the carnies as I made my way onto the Scrambler to wedge in beside Bailey and her friends.
My job was to stay with the group and not spend too long in the barn petting goats and oxen.
My job was keep quiet so I watched the Ferris wheel operator do his job. He looked like Gregg Allman. He had a beard and kind, world-weary eyes. He was tanned and blonde and he never cared if we had bracelets or not. He counted extra turns when we were on the wheel and he never made us get off until someone stopped smiling. He wore dirty jeans and a ripped white shirt and he had tattoos from some other life before the one in which you live in a broken-down camper, towed from one small town to the next.
One late night he asked me what I was staring at. I told him the lights were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He walked over to the canopy where the rainbow lights were and he reached up and unscrewed a round red bulb and he brought it over to me and told me I could keep it so I would always remember the fun I had that night. He became a fixture after that, and every year he gave me a different colored bulb that I would collect near the end of my evening. I brought them home and kept them in a cardboard box pushed far underneath the big iron bed with the mattress that sagged in the middle. The cocoon bed, I called it, home away from home at my grandparent's house.
When I was twelve I decided when I was eighteen that I was going to marry him if things with Lochlan didn't pan out (because they weren't anyway because I was twelve), and I'd wear a pretty yellow embroidered apron and fix him nice dinners at the three-legged table that was bolted into one corner of the camper and at night we would sleep in the tiny bed in the other corner with a threadbare blanket and he would sing me to sleep while the carnival traveled to the next town.
Pay cheques were dispensed in cash and time off was where ever and whenever you could find it. There were no shopping malls, no school and no long car trips, there was only the gleeful screams of the people on the rides, the food that hasn't changed in sixty years, since his grandpa operated the wheel and the lights that always, always make me dizzy. Those lights are better than the northern lights and better than fireworks to me, because those are the lights of true adventure around every bend. Familiarity in rusty bolts and discarded paper cones, ripped paper bracelets and discarded, dusty prizes.
I never had big dreams. Mine are so very small and simple. And I still have one of the lights that he gave me. It's rusted now, and even if I had a socket that it fit I doubt it still works. He would be probably late fifties, early sixties by now, maybe he still travels with the shows and maybe he closed up his trailer and stopped somewhere nice when the carnival passed through a town that looked appealing. Hell, I'll never know. But it makes me feel happy to think about sometimes.