Wonderland, Amarillo, Texas

Rarely did I have to worry about where to stand in class photos as a kid, which is to say I was always average or above average on the height scales. I was full in figure, but not lanky, nor morbidly obese. I was just a big kid, though never enough to make me a phenom at sports.

As I awkwardly grew into my teens, never feeling like I was as stocky as I wanted to be in the shoulders for as otherwise robust I was, (nor really ever putting together the right combination to change that) I found myself living into the skin I owned, not without bumps along the journey toward self acceptance.

I picked up a few jobs in high school, some in food and customer service, but one also working security at the now long gone Astroworld. I think that the park was nearing the end of it’s run in Houston, as I remember stories about the “Texas Cyclone” (one of the limited remaining wooden roller coasters in operation at the time) starting to lose pieces. Each year, around Halloween, the park would host “Fright Fest”, which included scary characters roaming the park as well as special haunted houses for guests to walk through. Some days at Astroworld, I would wave the handheld metal detector to check for weapons at the front gate. Most, however, I would “work security” in the clown haunted house. Outside of just looking official, my job would be to escort anyone who assaulted a performer in costume outside to wait for the police to file a report. Proudly, I escorted no one that season.

What working in a haunted house at a theme park did further impress upon me was the importance of keeping an eye out for what should otherwise be routine. Spotting when something seems “off”.

So, I was inspired this week when I recalled a trip to Amarillo and found a theme park closed for the season. The magic of what a theme park can be turns eery when it’s cold and dark.

The track this week is “Wonderland by Night” to tribute the find. It’s a low key instrumental that juxtaposes anything as high excitement as a theme park.

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