Despite its location so close to campus, I’ve only been to Point Defiance four times.
Time One: The Rose Garden
It was the Saturday of Fall Break, my freshman year, and it was the only time I’ve ever used the ever-handy Saturday Shuttle service campus has to offer. There were five of us, sitting comfortably in the van, and the two students driving gave us cookies as they drove us. We stayed in the front section of the park — wandering through the rose garden and taking pictures of the flowers, pictures of us together, blurry pictures, and pictures in crisp color.
We stayed in the section for over an hour, pacing back and forth between everything, trying to imprint it all in our brains. Eventually, though, we had our fill. We walked around the pond, took more photos (the ducks in the pond, the changing of the leaves from deep green to burnt orange), and avoided being in the wedding pictures that were being taken.
We ended the day with the ever-popular game of frisbee. A seemingly stereotypical choice, that probably wasn’t the best idea because none of us had played in years. I think we spent more time running in a desperate attempt to catch the disc then we actually spent playing the game. Nonetheless, we had a good time.
Time Two: With the (Friend’s) Parents (and Grandmother)
Spring, 2015. Parent’s weekend.
Claire’s parents had come up from L.A., bringing her grandmother in tow.
We all ended up going to breakfast together, four of us crammed into the back seat of their rent-a-car as we made our way to Proctor District. Claire and her mother talked to each other while splitting pancakes and eggs. Claire’s father bonded with Gaea over their shared love of jazz music. Claire’s grandmother told me I had nice hair and asked me what my major was and told me I had nice hair again. (Actual quote: “Has anyone ever asked you about buying your hair?”) Then, after discovering where in Northern California I was from, she asked me if I knew “that one restaurant. The famous one.” She seemed thrilled when I finally managed to guess where she was talking about. (The Samoa Cookhouse, okay eggs, overpriced dinner, good for large family functions.)
It was the type of day where the sun couldn’t decide whether or not it was going to peak through the clouds. The type of day where the rain flew sideways in the wind and you felt like you could fly. We piled back into the car. The heater was cranked on and the windows steamed while rain pattered the windows.
“Where are we going?” Claire’s dad asked, turning this way and that randomly down the winding streets. There was no immediate answer, no immediate desire to go back to campus, but no real solution as to where. I don’t know who came up with the suggestion of Point Defiance — maybe Claire? — but one way or another that became our destination.
“Where is this place?” Claire’s dad asked. “And what’s it called again? Point Conception?” Claire looked the type of annoyed where you are trying to hide your amusement while Gaea and I hid our smiles in pressed together lips.
We made it there (eventually) and ended up driving around the five mile loop. We stopped at Owen’s Beach, deciding that it would be a good idea to stretch our legs. We were out of the car for less than five minutes, still walking towards the Sound, when it started pouring. Understandably, we rushed back into the car, and continued on our way.
For someone battling the cold and the rain and the general confusion of being in a new place, it was understandable that Claire’s dad got confused. The exit signs come up quick and it is easy to pass them. We ended up driving around the loop at least three times, each time somehow missing the exit.
Claire’s dad: “We might actually be stuck here.”
Claire’s grandma: “At least we have each other.”
Time Three: With my Mother
One of the side-effects of living your whole life in a small, rural town, is that you aren’t used to driving in densely populated areas. The first time coming up here, my mom was nervous, to say the least. We didn’t do much wandering beyond campus, I think we only even went to Proctor District once. It was all very scheduled, she was on a time-crunch to get back home and I was only thinking about the fact that in a number of days I would be in college.
When she came back in May there was less of a rush. I was keen to show her parts of Tacoma and she was more than willing to see it all. We each got sandwiches from the Met, ginger ale, and one of The Cookie to share.
We went to Point Defiance, sat on a park bench, and had our first meal together in months.
Time Four: To the Sound
It was something we had semi-seriously joked about doing for months. Let’s jump in the Sound! Do the Puget Plunge! I am honestly still surprised that it actually happened. Maggie sat on the shoreline of Owen’s Beach, I waded in to my knees, bouncing up on my toes as the swell from boats came near.
Claire, Maddy, and Gaea had more of an all-or-nothing attitude about the situation. Freezing in their bathing suits before getting in, I know for a fact that the water was less than enjoyable. It was more of a, “this is so stupid, but fun and these are the memories they were telling us about making” type of moment for them.
With the three of them shivering, Maggie and I mildly concerned and mildly amused, we went back to the car. Cranked up the heater. Drank hot chocolate. Laughed.