The Torchlight is our Oyster

In an earlier entry (see: “The Train is Our Oyster“), I recounted for you my adventures of two summers ago, when I visited my little brother, Ross, in Seattle. This weekend, I made the trek again, though by car (not train) and for only two days (not four). Of course we did some of the traditional things, like visit Pike’s Place, eat pyroshkis, and wander University Ave. aimlessly, but we also branched out a bit and included the Olympic Sculpture Park, dinner in Fremont and a brief visit to a Capitol Hill bar called Chapel that was, once, a funeral parlor.

Also, there was the Torchlight parade.

When I say “parade,” though, I don’t mean we sat on the curb and waved glo-sticks and cheered as drill teams and silk dragons and dance troupes passed by–no, I mean we marched. See, my brother is Drum Major for the Husky Marching Band, so he had this teeny little commitment on Saturday night that we’d have to work around in planning our Seattle adventure, and what, we wondered, would Thea do for four hours, alone, in Seattle while Ross led the marching band from the Science Center to Qwest Stadium?

We thought. We pondered. Then, we borrowed a purple Huskies shirt, talked to some important people, then got me some green water bottles and a purpose: watergirl. I wove in and out of the band for three miles, dodging trombones and cymbals, distributing water like some sort of marching band angel of mercy. It was fabulous.

At first, I felt a little awkward about the fact that I don’t even live in Seattle, let alone go to UW, and am only affiliated with the school by blood, but after a while I got into it–particularly after I realized that I could stand in as a surrogate “high-fiver” while the band was actually playing. I’d noticed that all these adorable kids were continually holding their hands out to the band (who were, quite understandably, occupied playing their instruments), hoping for high-fives, and after seeing a few kids drop their hands, heartbroken, I thought, You know what? I have a free hand.

And so I high-fived the kids on behalf of the Husky marching band, smiling and waving and exhibiting all the school spirit I could muster for a school I don’t attend–though I was never particularly good at mustering up school spirit for any of the schools I did attend, now that I that I think about it.

Another grand, though terrifying, moment came just before the parade: we arrived at the Seattle Science Center, in all our purple-and-gold glory, to find that we had over an hour to kill. Some band members talked of food, of sitting down, of visiting the International fountain, but Ross caught a glimpse of a roller coaster track and came up with a different plan altogether.

Now, you know that little carnival over by the EMP that is roughly the size of a parking lot and has maybe six sketchy rides in it? The roller coaster that caught Ross’s eye is called The Windstorm, and, though not terribly tall or fast, it looks like it was built sometime in the 1940s and hasn’t had so much as a paint touch-up since then.

We bought our tickets, scrambled into the car and threw our hands up in the air, as the car climbed the first hill, then shuddered, leaned a bit to the left, righted itself, shuddered again, and kept climbing. We put our hands down, calmly grasped the safety bar and held on for dear life.

Now, I’ve ridden a few roller coasters in my day and many of them were enormous and gravity-defying, death-defying, better-judgement-defying, you name it, but I don’t think I’ve ever found it so believable that the car might actually detach itself from the tiny little rust-stained track and send us hurtling twenty feet to our fiery and wholly preventable deaths.

By the time we got out of the car (quickly, the second the bars lifted off our laps), my hips were bruised from rattling around in the seat and my head hurt from hitting it against…something, I never found out what. From the way Ross massaged his side I could tell he’d had a similarly abusive ride–we compared injuries before moving on to the other slightly less terrifying rides.

I was sad to leave Seattle this afternoon, though we did manage to cram four days of activity into two–rollercoaster, parade and all–and I wish I could add for you some of the sweet thoughts I have about my brother right now, but after all that fun, I’m very tired and probably you’d be embarrassed to even read what I’d come out with at this point. So, suffice it to say I had a great time with him this weekend, and I can’t wait to visit him again.


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