A walk in the woods

A few months back, I went to a convention that had a fairly unusual layout compared to the rest of my experiences. Instead of me sitting alone at my little table hawking books to passersby, the author’s alley was like a little bookstore featuring all of the guest authors, with volunteers there to tell anyone who came in about all of us and the things we’d created. We were free to hang out in the author’s alley and sign books or just chat, but we were also free to leave whenever we wanted. It was incredibly liberating and relaxing compared to what I was used to.

While I was hanging out, one of the other authors mentioned that there was an abandoned amusement park less than a mile from the hotel– mostly torn down, though supposedly a lone roller coaster was still standing. As my insanity is fairly predictable, I was entranced.

The next morning, because I was actually able to leave, I went looking for the park. I parked in a strip mall and snuck into the forest beside a massive fenced-in area, wading through bramble bushes and half a foot of snow. I followed the fence along the bank of a creek, gripping the chain link with one hand just so I wouldn’t slip into the frozen water, until I found a gap in the fence big enough to climb through.

On the other side, I realized that what I’d taken for part of the amusement park was actually a public park, just a dock and playground that had been closed off for the winter. I stood at the end of the dock and watched the tranquil water for a long while, and then I continued my search.

After a bit of driving and trial and error, I did find the amusement park, but I never did get inside. The fence was too well-maintained for me to find a way to slip through, and I didn’t feel justified in tearing down the plywood and smashing a window just to get what I wanted.

I spent the rest of the convention covered in scratches and wandering around in my socks because my only pair of shoes was soaked through with snow. But without hesitation: it was worth it. I didn’t get to see the creaking skeleton of an ancient roller coaster, but I got an adventure in the snow and a moment of tranquility looking over the water.

The important thing isn’t that I found what I was looking for; the important thing is that I went looking.

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