It seems strange to me, in retrospect, that I could have managed to reach the age of sixteen without having ever visited an amusement park. Of course, I was aware of places like the Epcot Center and Disneyland -- what American child isn't? But I grew up in a city that didn't have any local amusement parks, and my family didn't have a lot of extra money to spend on vacations. Instead, my parents saved up to send me to boarding school in Massachusetts. Living away from my parents and siblings was at times stressful, and required me to develop a great deal of independence. However, the road trip that we took to Bush Gardens in Virginia remains one of my fondest memories and marks a strong transition point between my adolescence and young adulthood.
When I returned home from school for the summer after my junior year,...
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