Friday, August 12, 2011

manufactured nostalgia

The carnival is a vile, germ-ridden place. I prefer Disney World, which despite being vastly more crowded, seems somehow more sterile, the rides sturdier and cleaner.

I go anyway, because my best friend from childhood loves the carnival. I ride the Avalanche and the Pirat, and figure out how to breathe to minimize the unpleasant (to me) jolt of adrenaline. I play the games the boys hawk at the top of their lungs—hey there, girls, wanna try your luck?—and let my friend win. I convince her to ride the one ride I like, the Cliffhanger, which to me feels like what hang-gliding would feel like. She ends up loving it.

I stand in line at the Ferris wheel, watching the two fourteen-year-old boys in front of us posture for the two fourteen-year-old ladies. I get into the seat with my friend—no rocking the seat!—and we rise above the chaos. And it's beautiful. This is the smallest carnival in the area, the gigantic Guilford Fair taking place in the same town and the Durham Fair in the next town over in a few weeks, but the lights are the same.

Sinatra blares over the scene—and I did it myyyyy wayyyyy—and the manufactured nostalgia soaks me like a waterfall. I've obviously never experienced a carnival in the '60s, yet I still feel a sense of the history behind the traveling carnival, romanticized through books and film. I take out my 21st century phone with its 21st century apps, and quickly snap a few photographs, digitally altered to manufacture some more nostalgia.

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