Around this time every year there’s a carnival down the street. I’ve never really needed to know the exact date because the carnival has a way of letting you know it’s there. The lights are almost audibly loud. This particular carnival looks like it hired the same lighting vendor as the city of Tokyo. There’s something overstimulating about it in a way that makes you feel like you’re truly alive… unless you generally get nervous feels. And in that case, the carnival makes you feel like you’re going to die.
This was a bit of a problem for me because I was locked into going. My friends made the plan and if you want to continue having those you need to choose them over your fears. I actually like each of a carnival’s offerings in a vacuum, but you don’t get to process a carnival like that. You process the carnival all at once in a bear hug of sensory overload from which there’s no escape. The carnival sets the tempo and you’re completely at its mercy. You’re trapped in the fun.
The thing that’s most inescapable is the sound. It’s almost intentionally unsettling. There’s always some sort of dinging and you never really know if it’s just beginning or ending. The clicking of roller coasters is specifically designed to create tension. And when you mix it with all the screaming, a carnival sounds like the sensory deprivation chamber at a black site prison. After a while you’re not sure whether the screams are coming from the people on the rides, your own mouth, or from deep within your soul.
But when the day finally rolled around I just took CBD. The tension gave way to a general sense of ease and the carnival was fine. We did the Ferris Wheel. We split churros. We met a guy named Steve.