Toward the end of The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel Grace is confronted by her mother, who celebrates nearly every holiday.

     "IT IS BASTILLE DAY!" [Hazel's mother] pulled her arms from behind her back, producing two small plastic French flags and waving them enthusiastically. 
     "That sounds like a fake thing. Like Cholera Awareness Day." 
     "I assure you, Hazel, that there is nothing fake about Bastille Day. Did you know that two hundred and twenty-three years ago today, the people of France stormed the Bastille prison to arm themselves to fight for their freedom?" 
     "Wow," I said. "We should celebrate this momentous anniversary." 
     "It so happens that I have just now scheduled a picnic with your father in Holliday Park." [1]

Holliday Park is located in the northern part of the city, just east of Broad Ripple. Its ninety-four acres provide more than three and a half miles of trails, some of which lead to the banks of the White River. The trees are picturesque, and the rocks are flat enough to skim across the surface of the river. There are birds and flowers and a playground, and a meadow filled with dandelions.

The day after my birthday, we spent the afternoon there, Ty, Zoë, and I. We visited the nature center first, where we examined petrified dung and listened to an animatronic daisy prattling on about something-something-nature-something. There was an owl with alarming yellow eyes. A black snake twisting, coiling, climbing. And there was the bird-watching area, an alcove with wide, sunken couches. The cracked brown leather kind that crinkle when you first sit on them, but quickly mold to your weight, drinking you in. Cradling you. From the couches, we watched a variety of birds--hummingbirds, woodpeckers, songbirds. Robins. Cardinals. Mockingbirds. An indigo bunting who later flew into into one of the glass windows, attempting to prove that birds are intangible. 

They're not. 

The three of us spent a good deal of time in the woods, traversing the dirt paths. We pointed out chipmunks and various flowers to each other. We spewed quotes from The Birdcage and possibly created another inside joke or two. We meandered and went up, walked and came back down, down to the river. We taught Zoë how to skim rocks. And we sat under the Meridian Street bridge, taking photos of each other and, in Ty's case, taking drags on an American Spirit. The kind that comes in the teal package, mind you. Ty spotted a couple of vultures circling the skies, and we also spotted a graffito on the wall across the River. Fuck Ty, it read. 

     It was kind of a beautiful day, finally real summer in Indianapolis, warm and humid--the kind of weather that reminds you after a long winter that while the world wasn't built for humans, we were built for the world. Dad was waiting for us, wearing a tan suit, standing in a handicapped parking spot typing away on his handheld. He waved as we parked and then hugged me. "What a day," he said. "If we lived in California, they'd all be like this."
     "Yeah, but then you wouldn't enjoy them," my mom said. She was wrong, but I didn't correct her.
     We ended up putting our blanket down by the Ruins, this weird rectangle of Roman ruins plopped down in the middle of a field in Indianapolis. But they aren't real ruins: They're like a sculptural re-creation of ruins built eighty years ago, but the fake Ruins have been neglected pretty badly, so they have kind of become actual ruins by accident. [2] 

The Ruins are actually the facade of what was once New York City's first skyscraper, the St. Paul Building. The St. Paul Building was constructed in 1898, but was demolished in the 1950s in order to make room for a modern skyscraper. The building's owner, the Western Electric Company, held a competition in which U.S. cities could submit their plans for the preservation and display of the facade. In the end, Indianapolis won the facade and the statues, which were made of Indiana limestone. The statues had been designed by architectural sculptor Karl Bitter, who also helped design the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Together, the three statues are called The Races of Man and they represent the African-American, Asian, and Caucasian races laboring together, equally holding the weight of the building on their shoulders. 

I caught Ty's eye; he was watching me. And I found Zoë lying on her back in the grass, barefoot and shielding her eyes from the bright sun. She was relaxed, as always, and, when she sat up, her celery-green eyes were alert, as always. The miniscule breeze that cooled the sweat on our foreheads also brought with it the scent of Ty's cologne. I looked around, to the Ruins, to the thousands of dandelions begging to be wished upon and released to the wind. I wanted to remember. 

     You could hear the wind in the leaves, and on that wind traveled the screams of the kids on the playground in the distance, the little kids figuring out how to be alive, how to navigate a world that was not built for them by navigating a playground that was. Dad saw me watching the kids and said, "You miss running around like that?" 
     "Sometimes, I guess." But that wasn't what I was thinking. I was just trying to notice everything: the light on the ruined Ruins, this little kid who could barely walk discovering a stick at the corner of the playground, my indefatigable mother zigzagging mustard across her turkey sandwich, my dad patting his handheld in his pocket and resisting the urge to check it, a guy throwing a Frisbee that his dog kept running under and catching and returning to him. 
     Who am I to say that these things might not be forever? ... All I know of heaven and all I know of death is in this park: an elegant universe in ceaseless motion, teeming with ruined ruins and screaming children. [3]

[1] Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. New York: Dutton Books, 2012. Print. Page 306.
[2] ---. Page 306.
[3] ---. Page 307.


  1. U definitely found your mojo!.. love the staircase shot!. Hope these go into your portfolio...

    1. Thank you so much! That's one of my favorite shots from the hike, too.

  2. It's so very green and lovely.

  3. I didn't imagine it like that but it's great being able to put a location to the name now. I hope they actually filmed there for the movie xxx

    1. I wish they had! They actually filmed the movie in Pennsylvania, mainly because Indiana doesn't offer tax incentives to filmmakers! I'm curious to see how it all looks in the film, though, because I've been able to visualize so many of the locations. :)

  4. What a beautiful park! Your love for Indianapolis shines through your photography and writing. :) And the second to last photo -- the perfect capture! I can almost feel the sun on my face. xx

  5. Thank you so much for introducing this place. I hope that I will have a chance to visit

    1. It's a beautiful park! There is a nice meadow to enjoy, but the hiking trails are fun, too. You can even walk down to the river, if you like. Anyway, it's fun to imagine the characters from "The Fault in Our Stars" being here. Hopefully you are able to visit!


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