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Lost In Riverside Park

Have you ever wanted to run through Riverside Park way too late at night?  Staff writer Cole Gengos took one for the team and found out what happens when you mix copious amounts of caffeine and late night strolls.

This is the story of how I ended up sprinting along the waterside path in Riverside Park, breathing heavily, and drenched in sweat on a late Saturday night. It all started at around dinnertime when I felt like I needed some warm fluids because my head had been hurting. My stomach was also not cooperating, so I figured it would be best to keep my dinner to something easy like a buttered English muffin and two cups of coffee. For context, I never drink coffee. I don’t like hot drinks and I don’t like the taste of coffee with or without hella sugar or milk so this was quite a strange choice for me but I felt compelled to make the choice nonetheless. Additionally, I usually don’t feel very affected by caffeinated beverages, so I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this apart from a little boost and some warmth in my gut.

About an hour had passed and I started to wonder if I was totally immune to the effects of caffeine. I considered that maybe I had accidentally drunk some decaf stuff. I shrugged it off and decided to sit down at my desk and chill out to some Bob Ross on Netflix. Real good shit.

About forty minutes in I notice that both of my legs are bouncing with great vigor. I usually bounce my knees anyway so I didn’t think much of it but it didn’t take much more time to realize that I was finally succumbing to the consequences of my choice to down two black coffees. My heart was pounding and I could hardly keep my hand steady enough to guide the key into the lock of my door. It wasn’t too late now– maybe 9:00 PM or so. I knew there was no chance I would be able to lie still in bed to fall asleep in the next couple hours so I did what any rational person with way too much energy would do: I went for a walk. This was mistake number two of the evening.

I had been told several times by several people to avoid public parks in the dark of the night but there was still some lingering glow of dusk (or maybe it was just the light pollution) and I decided, especially because it was a Saturday night and the bar along the path at Riverside was bound to be lively and well lit, it would be fine to walk for a little bit. And it was: for the first twentyish minutes of my walk there were plenty of friendly people walking about with their pets or lovers or whatnot and I was still pretty jittery but felt quite better. As I came to the end of the wide path in the park, I decided now would be a great time to finally explore that other path that leads under the street bridge. I walked down and learned that just beyond the street was a lovely biking/walking path along the water. I assumed there would be several places to return to the main park along the way, so I went off on my merry way. Please, exercise caution with your assumptions. About forty minutes of walking had left me wondering when the next opportunity to get off the path would be. It was very much dark now and the foot traffic was getting lesser and lesser. Concern crept into my mind as I considered I may have made a poor choice. I grab my phone and look at the map to see when the next time this path would return to the street would be. My heart sank as I saw that it would be several miles to the next outlet. My heart was already beating fast, but now I felt like a hummingbird on crack. Suddenly, I knew what had to be done.

I turned on my running playlist on Spotify, featuring very high energy tracks such as “Next Level Charli” and “We Appreciate Power” and basically went into the mental headspace of Sonic the
Hedgehog and transformed into the physical embodiment of I’m out this hoe. I felt like the Flash and I probably looked like the hash slinging slasher but I was determined to keep up this high pace until I reached the track from whence I came. My breathing was labored and my heart felt like a water balloon that had been overfilled with gasoline, but I was finally back on the street.

Face dripping sweat, I made it to my dorm and bless the woman who swiped my card because she looked like she had seen a ghost. I guess I was the ghost if ghosts are super sweaty and sound like a laptop running minecraft and downloading ten movies at the same time. Energy I had no longer. I proceeded to my suite commonspace and sat in a chair for a very long time processing the events that had befallen me. Please, know where you’re going when it’s late at night and try not to be caffeinated if you’re going somewhere unexpected. Godspeed, reader.

Riverside Park via Public Domain Clip Art

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