The Gathering Place

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Saturday, Dave and I made a day trip to Tulsa, Ok., just a short drive away from Fayetteville. Even though he’d just gotten back home after three weeks of back-to-back travel, Dave knew I was beginning to climb the walls and needed some new scenery.

What can I say? I married an amazing man.

After we did some shopping, we set out to explore downtown Tulsa. It was a bit eery walking around what I’m sure is a bustling business district during the week, but on a Saturday the streets were like a ghost town. The tall buildings loomed up against the grey overcast sky like fingers trying to reach an itch. We stumbled upon an alley that had brightly colored murals painted on the brick walls of the buildings that backed onto it, the only color that could be found mixed in with the steel and concrete buildings.

We wandered around the empty streets for a little while longer before climbing back into the car and heading down towards the river district. We had stopped once for lunch in the river district on our way home from a summer vacation years ago, and always wanted to go back and explore the area some more, but had just never made the trip. As we got closer, we could see tunnels ahead of us, landscaped medians and pedestrian walkways everywhere crossing over the tunnels. The river flowed on one side, parks and playgrounds lined the other side of the road. . . .

And then I saw the skate park.

Dave pulled a U-turn, found a parking place next to the park and we hopped out with our cameras. At first we hung back and just watched the skateboarders and BMX riders, but I couldn’t help myself. I started taking pictures, catching all the tricks the skater was doing, wincing a little when he fell. But he and his friends were laughing and having fun and not paying attention to the scrapes and bruises from failed tricks.

Dave suggested that we explore some more of the park we stumbled upon, so we turned around and followed the walkway up and over the busy highway we had just been driving on and discovered the name of the place that we found: The Gathering Place. It is full of playgrounds, skateparks, pump tracks, basketball courts, walkways, forests. The attractions of this place are boundless, and I so wish we had something like this in Fayetteville. It was amazing.

We decided that we better head home, but as we were passing one of the many skate parks, one of the young men that I had been taking pictures of earlier spotted us and called us over, asking if we’d mind taking some pictures of he and his friend doing some tricks on their boards. We said not at all (duh!), each of picking a spot on the ground and settled in to have some fun. It didn’t take long for more skaters and BMX riders to join in and by the time we wrapped up forty-five minutes later, we had about ten different boys all performing tricks for our cameras. Luckily, I had my business cards with me and we gave all of them away that evening with the promise that we’d make a gallery for the boys on my website, the riders and skaters thrilled that they had some pictures of themselves.

Honestly? I don’t know who had more fun: the skater boys or Dave and myself. Either way, all of us found a way to bond over wheels, concrete and shared laughter. And that’s all that matters.