Guest Post: Helenipa Stephens: “If you don’t do it, you’ll regret it!” Wisdom from an American Teenager
Today I have the pleasure of sharing my first ever guest blog, featuring the work of Helenipa Stevens. She’s the daughter of Jennifer McBain Stevens, who’s brilliant work can be found by clicking HERE and you can find her latest book, The Vitamix and the Murder of Crows can be found HERE. Please show them some Aloha.
Helenipa’s article was for a school assignment and focuses on a story of a Girl Scout trip she took with my daughter’s scout troop to Wildwood last year. From the stories I’ve heard from both my daughter and my wife (assistant troop leader along with Jennifer), it sounds like it was a pretty epic journey for all in one form or another.
I really enjoyed Helenipa’s take on the whole thing and her commentary about how “If you don’t do it, you’ll regret it” really resonates with me as I dive feet first into the world of independent publishing. My soon-to-be-released novel The Last Good Day is set in large part in Wildwood, NJ, and there’s a lot about what Helenipa wrote that hits home not only for me, but for my characters. Getting out of my own way and finishing the book, learning the industry, and building a platform are important parts of my journey to here. More so was learning how to turn away from my own often crippling self-doubt and anxiety. That’s a work in progress to be sure but I am inspired by this young lady’s take on her own journey outside of her own comfort zone. As Helenipa might say, “It was a thing that had to be done.”
Without further ado, I present Miss Helenipa Stevens, my first ever guest on the blog.
The Sea Serpent
I was going to New Jersey! I was kind of scared because I heard there was going to be a lot of roller coasters there. Let’s just say I don’t like dropping to my death. My girl scout troop from Virginia was going to “Beach Jam.” Other girl scout troops were sleeping at the amusement park. Luckily, one of our members had a beach house there, and we got to sleep in comfort. Well, sort of. It was cramped and hot, and I felt congested. But I thought it was better than sleeping outside. Little did I know I was about to go on the coolest, scariest, dropping to deathest roller coaster ever. I woke up the next morning and felt groggy. We quickly got ready and started walking. When we got there the leaders talked about some ground rules like, stay in a group, meet back here, don’t talk to strangers. Then we splitted into our groups. I believe we were split by the type of roller coasters we were comfortable with going on. There was medium and majestic (or something like that.) I was in medium (no surprise), then we were off. As the “medium” group walked farther into the park we walked past a monster. Not an actual monster of course, a ride. But it sure looked like one. I couldn’t see the name of the ride, (I assumed it was on the other side) but I felt like I had heard about it before. Then is struck me: The Sea Serpent! Oh my gosh, it was a monster. This was the ride my friend Jensen was talking about (the one who had the beach house). This was her favorite ride?!
It had a white skeleton-like figure, winding super high. I had to crane my neck to see the top of it. As my group was looking at it a cart on the ride zoomed by. I couldn't really see what the people looked like because they were going so fast. I shuddered. My mom who was chaperoning us smiled. She, unlike most of my group liked those kinds of things. The first ride my group had decided to go on was the swings. There was probably a specific name but I didn't pay too much attention to it. I remember when I was younger I would love swings (I still do). It was like you were flying. The ¨swing ride¨ was like a merry go round for swings. It looked super fun. We got to the front and buckled ourselves in. I sat next to Bryn. We went around and around and around. It definitely felt like I was flying.
We went on another series of rides too. Some, I was surprised I went on. As we were going from ride to ride my mom kept bringing up the Sea Serpent. I was to scared to even think about it. My mom suggested a really good bribe: if I went on the coaster, I could get my ears pierced for my upcoming birthday. It was hard to say no. My life was in danger! After many minutes of convincing, I decided to give in. I mean, it wasn't that bad right? It was bad. I got some of the people in our group to come. I sat with my mom, and my friends Nora and Bryn sat together. The lady came around and made sure all our constraints were strong enough. She asked a man about mine. What?! Are you saying I´m not safe? I wanted to shout. After they confirmed I was okay she left and a few seconds later we were off. My mom said something like, “Remember it’s less than a minute,” (we’d timed it before.) We were slowly rising, like when you are anticipating a “jump scare” in a horror film. I still had my eyes open. I knew I was going to close them when we dropped. We dropped. I closed my eyes and screamed. I remember being shaken around quite violently and thinking this isn’t that bad… Then we stopped at the opposite hill from where we started. I remember my mom saying, “Halfway there!” Then, I opened my eyes for a split second. Then immediately closed them as we headed down hill backwards. It was done.
I was so proud of myself, my friends, and my mom (even though she had done things like this before.) I turned around and faced my friends: Bryn look petrified and Nora looked slightly shaken (Nora being the bravest “child” in the group.) We unbuckled ourselves and left. As we did Bryn and I talked about how thrilling it was. We called it the “cycle”.
Do you know the phrase: “If you don’t do it, you’ll regret it”? Well, this was the biggest “If you don’t do it you’ll regret it in my life.” I mean, I totally would have regretted not going on it.
It was a thing that had to be done; and now I have my ears pierced.