Growing up, the nearest worthwhile park was a 40 minutes bus ride away. It had a zoo with iron bar cages, a century-old carousel that made your hands smell like metal, and pony rides. It was where I learned to ride a bike without training wheels and discovered my love for bears and cotton candy.
It’s also the place I had one of my very first dates. We had agreed to meet up in the rose gardens. He was wearing a too-big button-down shirt with camels on it, slobbered all over my face, and almost caused me to swear off kissing forever. Almost.
Needless to say, rose gardens remind me of sloppy fellas and first loves and if you know me at all, you know how ashamed I am to even admit how much I love that. You know the grand gesture of love? The one John Cusack worked so hard to make the world believe works and is worth it? Well, I can tell you that at the very least, the one where you fly across the continent, then drive 8 hours through a blizzard doesn’t work. If you’re only going to trust one thing I say, this is it.
While the Huntington doesn’t have a zoo or pony rides, it does have a few amazing gardens. And that wonderful smell, whose source I still haven’t found. It wafts its way from the Japanese Gardens all the way to the Chinese ones. Is it the camellias? Or are they pulling some Disney-style trickery and pumping pink sweet aromas through hidden vents? And can we talk about the greenhouse? Or the otherworldly conglomerate of cacti? Also, can we start a band called the Cacti Conglomerate?
Sometimes I’ll make it through the galleries to gawk at ancient titties, sometimes I’ll just hang outside and just stare at the sky for a few hours. It’s such a huge place that it’s easy to get lost doing either. The Huntington galleries are the only ones that I know of that let you stand close enough that you’re probably breathing all the varnish off. “Oh, you’re exhaling your modern germs onto this priceless 1500s golden piece of religious art? Go ahead, just don’t put your gross tongue on it.”
I sent the photo below to a friend, with the caption “Would you look at this bullshit? This place is full of pricks!” I don’t think he was impressed with how funny I really am. Hardly anybody is. So I’ve got that going for me.
So, hey… I can’t help but notice you’ve made it all the way down the page. Would you…maybe…wanna meet me at the Rose Gardens?