Jacob Lawrence, "Hot Summer's Night" (1947)
Jacob Lawrence, Hot Summer's Night (1947)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages

June 11, 2004:

Ticonderoga. Massive angle, so steep it seems like straight down. About a quarter of a mile, then that much again at the bottom without traffic where you can slow to controllable speed.

Worth it for the rush, but then in another mile down Grand Avenue is the spectacularly cheap frosty place: 25 cents for a large, more like an enormous, your choice of chocolate or vanilla or mixed, dipped five cents extra.

We collect streets. Every shortcut and gradient, every view, every french fry stand and coke machine, until we know the whole city as perfectly as one knows the tiny creases in a loved one's smile.

Certain rides we repeat again and again. Ticonderoga down to Mission Beach, sometimes up Mt. Soledad, other times south across the bridges onto Vacation Island. South down Morena Boulevard to the Presidio, up the back way, Mason Street to Jackson Street, through Balboa Park to the hotdog store across the fence from the Children's Zoo. Point Loma lighthouse for the view; La Jolla caves to snorkel; as far east as Flynn Springs just to do it. Shelter Island, Torrey Pines, El Cajon Boulevard. O.B. Pier.

My hair is jet-black, straight and long, and I wear a woven headband with a Southwestern pattern. I'm so tanned that a child once points, saying to his mother, "Look! A real Indian!"

In summer we usually ride every other day, alternating with basketball or football days to give our legs a rest. During the school year we ride on weekends.

I view this now as the consummate freedom. I will do this again in retirement, in the unlikely event that my body holds out. Perhaps my friend from those days will do it again with me, a half century later. That would rule.

Sunlight through billowing window curtains. Westerly wind with the faint smell of seawater. Spitting sound of nearby lawn sprinklers. The lazy, jingling song of an ice cream truck moving up the street more slowly than a child can walk. The joy of morning sleep.