Memoir: Young Mistakes

Renee Kwok

Mr. Jockers

January of 2018

ILA Per. 8


Young Mistakes


My palms were all sweaty and my heart rate increased by the second. The longer I wait, the more anxious I get. My throat was all dry and scratchy from all of the screaming and yelling I did previously. My dad had to half drag half carry me to our destination. Wherever we went, every head turned in our direction because I was making such a scene. When at when our destination, each minute that passing by waiting was agonizing. At last, the cars came. I couldn’t say I was thrilled. Someone strapped me into a seat, probably my mom. Listening to the sound of the seat buckle clicking of the locked being set in place wasn’t really reassuring, but I can’t look back now. Off we went, into the big blue beautiful sky.


Don’t look down! Don’t look down! My instincts tell me.


Despite what I willed myself to do, I still did.

And screamed.


Alrighty. Let me explain how I got into this mess of my creation. Let’s start with what I desired to do when I was really little. I’ve seen a whole bunch of commercials on TV about amusement parks. I saw one ride in particular that I really wanted to go on. It was a roller coaster called the Wildcat. I asked my parents if we could go altogether and have some fun. Just me, my mom, my dad, and my brother. Summer came and I couldn’t wait! One problem. Work. My parents are always working and working so we didn’t go in the end. Or the next summer. Or the summer after that. Or after that. My parents know how much I’ve wanted to go to an amusement park so one summer, on a particular day, we decided to go to Lake Compounce! I was sure nothing would get in our way so we packed swimsuits and towels and goggles and an extra change of clothes and a whole lot more of things. I don’t know why, but my parents thought that it would be a good idea to bring gigantic pool floaties. We invited our Aunt and Uncle from my dad’s side and of course, my cousin, Aaron. Aaron is loved by every family that he’s meet. We’re only a year apart so we always end up playing with each other and keeping each other company or even taking turns watching my brother. We’re still close, but now he and my brother just talk about video games a lot. Anyways, we got into the biggest car that my family owns, which seats 8 people and we had 7. The whole ride to Bristol, CT wasn’t very interesting. The adults talk about work or politics or who knows what and the kids just eavesdrop. Since I’m the only kid in the car who’s fluent in Cantonese, I just end up translating everything since Aaron is a huge fan of politics. My brother, Edison, usually just stares out the window, but not this time. He was spilling with facts. Soon enough, we saw the sign.

Lake Compounce.

New England’s Family Theme & Water Park.

Oh, the excitement! After waiting in line to get our ticket to park, we unloaded everything; including the huge pool floaties. The security guards looked at all of us all funny when we approached them to check our bags. Of course, we didn’t know that the rides provide these unnecessary equipment that we brought. We later on got neon orange entry bracelets and our locker keys. I changed into my bathing suit before-hand and I just wore a dress over it. While everyone was changing, I just stood at my locker, wearing a red swimsuit with white stars on it. I kind of zoned out for a while because my cousin yelled,


“Let’s go, Renee! Stop staring into space! The park isn’t open ‘till whatever time Renee says so!”


“I’m coming! There’s no need to yell, Aaron!”


I followed my cousin to my parents and the rest of the adults. To cool off, our first stop was the wet part of the park. We went into this “pool” sort of thing, I guess. There was a wave pool in one corner and in the very very very shallow part was a huge playground for little kids. We liked to hang out at the deep end where we just swim around and around, but of course, we had to watch my brother. He tends to wander off to somewhere all the time. All he does in the pool is just float on his back, so he tends to drift off into the sea of little children and then Aaron and I would have to find him. After about an hour, we got hungry and tired from playing tag in the water.


“Hey Aaron, I’m really hungry,” I complained. “Can we get something to eat?”


“Sure! I’m hungry too. Hey Edison, let’s get some food, yeah?”


It was like as if Aaron pressed a button or something because my brother popped right out of the water and disturbed the circle of bubbles that he made above his head. He quickly rushed to the edge of the pool and immediately turned around and started heading for the stairs. Since the incident of 2012, he has refused to lift himself over the edge of the pool to get out. He always heads for the stairs. If there are no stairs, he would not get into the pool or we would have to lift him out.  Anyways, we reached the adults and told them that we should eat. My Dad agreed with me and all of us got out of the water and started walking towards food. My Aunt and Uncle went to get a table for the 7 of us while we get the food. The thing is, after a while of walking, I soon realized that we were walking to the roller coaster that I’ve been wanting to ride since I was younger, but as soon as I realized, I said,


“No! I’m not going on the Wildcat! Look at how tall it is! Is it even safe? Am I going to d—”


“You’ve always wanted to ride the Wildcat, remember?” My Dad interrupted. “ You’d beg us every year to take you to Lake Compounce just so you could ride the Wildcat.”


“Yeah, but…..”


You see, over the years, my brother has been reading the news and a lot of books on roller coasters. He would never tell me the positive sides of riding a roller coaster beside the thrill that you’d experience. He’s always saying,


“Some roller coasters are so dangerous that some people have died riding them.” Or. “Did you know that a roller coaster is so fast that the whole ride is done in just a couple of seconds?”


Even on the car ride to Lake Compounce was full of terrifying facts. My Mom even told my brother to stop talking after a while. You really don’t want to test her patience. I planted my feet on the ground that I was on and refused to walk onward. Little did I know, I had no choice.  My cousin noticed and updated my Dad on my condition and my dad came walking over with an amused look on his face. Before I knew it, my Dad picked me up and swung me around my shoulders. Not funny Dad. I kicked and screamed and yelled and wriggled, but apparently, I’m still in my Dad’s clutches. Every head in the park turned in our direction since I was making such a scene. Soon enough, we got to our destination. Wildcat. The Wildcat loomed over us like it’s staring us down, seeing which one of us will break first. Of course, I was the first. I started squirming around and my Dad finally decided to put me down. You know the feeling when you are about to enter a really scary haunted house and you get a good look of the house on the outside, standing tall, beckoning you to enter, but you really don’t want to? Yeah, that was what I was feeling.Every minute that passed by waiting in the line was agonizingly slow. When the next available set of cars came for us, someone put me in a seat and strapped me in. I could hear the click of the lock being set in place and then off we went on this monstrosity. When we almost reached the peak of this ride, I looked down and screamed as the roller coaster raced down the very high hill. As we went up another hill, I looked down and saw everybody ten times smaller than usual. I could smell the savory tang of pizzas and pretzels and the sweet smell of cotton candy. I hear the unnerving clicks and clanks of the chains that hold this roller coaster together. Looking ahead, I saw my brother and my Dad having the time of their lives sitting in the very front row. Aaron too, even though he was sitting with some stranger. It looked like only my Mom and I was holding on for dear life. Turns out, she does fear things like heights. Growing up, I’ve always thought of my Mom as some tough soldier that never sheds a tear and doesn’t express any emotions except anger and has very high standards. Looking at her on the roller coaster, I could see that her solid shield cracked around the edges. I could see the panic and fear in her eyes, plus she’s gripping the handle so tight that her knuckles turn white. My Mom and I held on to each other for the rest of the ride and at some point, we rammed the side of our heads together due to the unnecessary roughness of the ride. At the end of the ride, everybody got off excited to ride again while my Mom and I had legs like jello.


“Well, Renee, you finally get to ride the roller coaster that you’ve wanted to ride since you were little! How was it?”


“Well for starters, look at us,” I said while pointing and my Mom and I. “We look utterly destroyed! I wanted to ride the roller coaster when I was younger. Not now! It was a mistake!”


Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a young mistake.


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