Six Flags

….was insane. In the past four years, I’ve gone to Six Flags thrice. Of all the times I’ve gone, this time was the absolute best, hands down.

As my friend once said, “the faster, the bigger, the scarier, the better”. We rode the 2nd scariest ride three times, the scariest ride twice, a moderately scary ride three times, and basically any other extreme thrill ride that didn’t just spin around. To make things infinitely better, there were no lines. So on each ride, we either rode at the very front–for the view, the incline, the steep regret as we swooped over metal criss-crossed beams-or the back, for the whip (It’s a physics thing: roller coasters feel fastest in the back, mildest in the middle).

My favorite moment was probably when, at the top of a vertical ride, we paused, stopped screeching, looked to the 90 degrees below–right at that moment, the full-bearded man behind us look threw his hands up and bellowed, “take me down, Jesus!”

And down we went.

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The eight and a half hours flew by. Drenched in sweat (and fun!), we rode each thrill ride on my list with time to spare. This time around, unlike the past five times I’ve been at amusement parks, I memorized the map, marked out must-go rides, then made a mental path, so we wouldn’t waste time wandering back and forth. On the walk to rides, we stopped for Giant turkey legs and funnel cake, Six Flags cllllassics.

Ironically, I probably felt the most terror on the seemingly delicate swing ride. Much to my dismay, I had confused it for the miniature version. Instead of being calming, it turned out to be terrifying, hurling us up 400 feet in the air. Toes dangling hundreds of feet in the air, above lakes, coasters, Lego-like cars and buildings, with nothing but chains to connect us to the structure, we bellowed for dear life: “oh god, you said this was supposed to be calming!” Plot twist: it wasn’t.

After the swing ride, we got onto yet another ostensibly calm ride. This time, we faced a terrified five year old gripping onto her youngish dad, with whom we shared regular “oh!’s throughout the ride.

Turn. “Oh–” Shift. “Oh!” Dip, swivel, glide. “Oh?” Another dip. “Oh, haha!” It was delightfully awkward.

To end the night, we trekked across to the other side of the park to where we began: at the scariest ride. I think, though, that after time, you get used to the stomach-drops, steep dips (when I dip, you dip, we dip), barrels of regret and fear coursing through your veins. At any rate, we left the park at closing time feeling exhausted and exhilarated.

Kayaking Adventures

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Distant mountains, swaying trees, basking turtles and a view of the city up ahead. It was, by all means, beautiful. But we weren’t here to enjoy the sight. We were here to aggressively kayak to some arbitrarily-determined location three bridges away.

“Let’s get down to business! To defeat the huns!” I paddled emphatically. Water splashed in our kayak.

When it started to get hot, I declared, “toes in the water!”

An hour later, we’d arrived at our (again, arbitrarily-determined destination): the triple arched bridge. Arms sore, clothes drenched and tired, we looked back to realize we couldn’t see where we’d begun. We’d also reached our one hour limit. So for the next forty five minutes, we alternated between drifting/wailing and aggressive paddling. We almost ran into a turtle and definitely ran into another kayaker before finally reaching the dock soaked in lake water. 

Oasis

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Around us, people mingled and posed and photographed the sunset. Like a citrus smoothie, the white-yellow sun dipped into the sky, the reddish orange pinks melted into water–then a tap on the shoulder and a “hi, can you take a picture of us?”

I don’t blame her. Or the countless others with cameras aimed towards the sky (I was one. With three cameras) The view was breath-taking. And we were high up, too: on the drive, we’d looped up and around the rocky hills. It reminded me of California, with its steep roads and inclines.

So I’ll cut to the chase–let’s just say we found ourselves at the crowded sweltering restaurant on a hill. To our right were fancy homes (and lucky homeowners). To our left, tourists and restaurant-goers and sight-seers. The place was packed, a hive of sweaty well-dressed vibes. We slipped into the bar for a fruity pink smoothie, then wandered around the three stories. Once it was dark, we speed-walked back to the parking garage hungry and exhilarated.

Graffiti Park

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Instead of the single wall I imagined it to be, Graffiti Park turned out to be a colorful mini mountain stacked with painted concrete slabs. Satirical paintings towered over layers of graffiti. Squiggled words littered the walls; empty spray bottles littered the ground. Around me, people posed for pictures and tagged their names. Artists hauled in ladder to work on their pieces. We watched an artist spray-shade in a lion’s mane with cyan colored paint.

After grabbing our white spray paint, we hiked up the hill to find a place to paint. Most people were hiking up to the right. We were already on the left side and spotted a rundown path up the hill. I went first. I steadied myself on the rocks, occasionally gripped a branch, and we slowly made our way up the mountain. Terrain was rocky; the dirt was sometimes loose. We hopped onto a concrete slab mid-way from the top with view looking over the park, then shimmied our way onto yet another space. We tagged our names and I painted a face, disproportionate and bright, finishing the can before sunset.

In Retrospect

 

Reading journal entries from last year, and my, oh my, how things have changed. Thirteen months ago, I lamented joblessness, the friendzone, ghosts of friends past, nihilism and more. Topics of this blog would crop up regularly–what I was doing, what was up with the name, was it even worth posting on? I’d feel bouts of intense doubt over having started yet another blog (I forget that my photo blog was still up at the time)

15: WHEN LIFE is grey and routine you find a way through the parking lots. skip skip skip- to imagination land
18: when everything crowds out your senses/makes you stumble and cry, you miss the parking lots. skip skip skip: this time to nowhere.
Needless to say, things have changed. This summer, I’m working at a place I like with co-workers I like while doing tasks I like (as a writer!) My relationships haven’t changed drastically, save for some here or there (understatement). Nihilism is no longer something that hangs over my head like a blinding white cloud on a maddeningly slow summer day. And this blog has somehow transformed itself into a pulsating creative outlet on a bustling writing community that I’m happy to have joined.

I also feel differently this year than I did last year–less angsty, less nihilistic, less rambly and sleepy and sad. You know the kind of tiredness that washes over you when you’ve been on the road for too long and the sun’s beating down on your neck? when time hovers wiggly in the air, making heat waves of exhaustion? That was last summer.

This summer feels more like morning coffees, co-worker chit-chat, snuggles post errand-running, city explorations. It feels like every summer redoing itself to get things right, just right, this time. It’s summer 2015 balancing out work-and-life, summer 2014 knotting relationships together, summer 2016 erasing its own sense of meaninglessness. 

Night Out

The streets were bright and packed, a hive of buzzed affluent energy. Sidewalks were filled with girls tottering around in heels and guys in button-downs. Like college, essentially, except older and larger and less fratty (but maybe not).

Went out last weekend for the first time in a while. Despite the wait and warmth and fuzzy bar-hopping, the vibes were good. We laughed and danced and sang at the top of our lungs, drinks in hand (when they weren’t up in the air). The DJ played Humble by Kendrick Lamar; Mr. Brightside by The Killers, a party favorite; obscure rap songs with beats I tried to find while swaying in the sea of dancing bodies.

Comin’ out of my cage, and I’ve been doin’ just fine

Gotta gotta be down because I want it all

– Mr. Brightside, The Killers

The party ended somewhat abruptly around 2. Birthday girl best friend had partied her way ad nauseam–literally. By then, we’d all found our groove and realized, perhaps simultaneously, that hey, this is fun, we should do this again and with each other. As Mars wrote in her caption:

Things got wild. Things got cute. Let’s do it again.

Wandering the City

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After making a bucket list of things to do in the city, I finally went out and crossed a few off the list.

We meandered around the design district, searching for the museum of contemporary art. After circling around a few times, we realized it’d been in front of us the entire time. The space wasn’t what I’d anticipated; it was open, garage-like, with three moving art exhibits. I’m not usually the biggest fan of contemporary art–sometimes it strikes me as something devoid of skill–but these pieces weren’t like that. They were meaningful and thoughtful. The artists were talented. We drifted from one exhibit to the next, oohing and aahing at the pieces, from massive rug-like designs made of plastic fingers to portraits painted on metal.

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Afterwards, we headed over to a grilled cheese restaurant, where we ate bruschetta, downed two beers, and ordered a savory bacon-and-grilled-cheese sandwich. The sandwiches were, as I always say, nom-tastic.

I like to imagine that this particular neighborhood is where the hipsters come to roost. Vintage shops litter the streets. Walls are decked out in murals. Quirky sculptures greet visitors in repurposed homes. It’s eclectic, artsy, old but welcoming. We peered into a few shops here and there, visited a coffeeshop-meets-bookstore-meets-bar. Then we dived into a pie shop for apple streusel and ice cream. (Our pie slice was massive).

art mural

Once we devoured the pie, we wandered around and found a wooden swing by some murals. They were occupied by three girls who posed and puckered for pictures for what felt like forever. In the meantime, we looked at murals. My favorite featured a mandrill meditating-floating above a pink sprinkled donut. I pretended to meditate atop a greyish block in front of the mandrill. After what felt like forever, the girls posing on the swing finally paused to move and look at their photos. I leaped onto the swings. We swung together.

It was hot. It was humid. But after leaving the arts district, we drove to visit the bridge, a city landmark, and walked across. I’d never driven on it, only seen it from afar, but today we got up close and personal. We walked on the hill, towards the bridge, onto the walkway, where we could see downtown.

“That’s where we spent the majority of our relationship.” He pointed out to a cluster of buildings.


As we drove home, the sun set. We talked about ridiculous things, as per usual. And for a moment it felt a little like the summers during which we’d always drive downtown.