I swung on a swing today. There was a dilemma with what to do with me while my partner had a quick business meeting. We’d thought about dropping me off at the local library or perhaps I’d wander around the downtown shops but as the time ran out of my day, I hurried to pick her up wearing my work uniform of over-sized jeans, Red Sox hat and matching t-shirt. It was too rough of an ensemble to fit in with the upscale town that we pulled into, so I worried what we’d do. Then we drove past the park and I felt the kid in me straighten up in order to peer out the car window as we passed by the empty swings. My partner was worried about leaving me there alone but as we eased through the streets of the little downtown, she glanced over at me knowing that I’d be looked down upon because of my appearance. We returned to the park and saw several moms with kids running around playing so I hopped out of the car and made my way to the big kid swings.
I tried a couple. One was too squeaky so I moved to its neighbor. I was surprised to feel the tightening of the rubber seat around my hips as I eased my larger than big kid ass down into it. The full weight of my body squeezed together the long chains and cinched the seat even tighter. I lifted my feet, grasped hold of the chain in each hand and started to rock my torso back and forth in time with outstretched and then bent legs.
What a feeling. The kid in me soared. I hadn’t felt her around for sometime and it was nice to feel her presence. The squiggly feeling in my belly reverberated through my body as I got higher and higher. When I’d turn my head or look down, anywhere other than straight ahead, it made it worse. But I liked it. For all I knew, I could’ve been on a roller coaster. It was a very similar feeling. I wondered how I went from wanting to flip over the top bar of the swing as a kid to getting butterflies just from the swinging motion. It must be an age thing I thought. And then I thought about jumping off as a kid when the bus would come. I wouldn’t even think about it. Just launch myself into the air and if I stuck the landing, it was awesome and if I didn’t, I’d brush off the dirt and keep right on going. I was certain I’d break my ankle or maybe my leg if I were to do it now. It made me worry. I looked at the frame of the swing set and heard the swish, swish of the metal post in the ground as I kept up my momentum. Maybe it wasn’t meant to hold big kids. Maybe it couldn’t handle the stress of the weight. I wondered if it would collapse or tumble over. I slowed my swing by making opposite movements of those that were propelling me. I got to where I was certain I could hop out of the seat and not bite it. I leapt into the mulch pieces being careful not to fill my Crocs with a billion bits of wood slivers. My ankles screamed at me for doing it but I knew it was a temporary pain. I held onto the chain, bringing the seat with me as I walked back to the small pit made from putting on the foot brakes. I wanted to do it again. I moved to a different seat. I had the whole set to myself. The kiddies were all over on the little tykes swings.
I glanced around. A grove of giant redwoods were in front of me. Signs here and there warning people not to feed the squirrels. Kids screaming off in the distance. An older man sitting at a picnic table not far from me. It looked like he had a radio. I wondered if he was listening to a baseball game. I seemed to remember hearing on the morning news that it was opening day for baseball. Him sitting there with just a radio seemed so old school but appropriate. I thought about the Red Sox and how much I missed being in Massachusetts. I loved that I was wearing my Red Sox hat and shirt even though it wasn’t on purpose. I launched myself again, my hips getting used to the snugness of the seat. I wondered if it would help squish in my ever growing thighs. The new spanx I thought and started laughing as I propelled myself higher and higher. I felt the swirl in my stomach again but pushed on until I could see the trees from over the top bar. I turned my head to get the fear wave to pulse through me again and saw the man with the radio watching me. Reverse motion, reverse motion to slow me down until I was in control again. He stopped watching. I thought I was being paranoid and felt silly. I started the process again. Lean back, legs out. Pull forward, drop chest, legs back. It was like I was a wind up toy. Weeee. Man I loved swinging as a kid. I looked down and felt the smile on my face as my stomach flip flopped. I wondered why there aren’t play grounds for adults. I saw a kid playing catch with his father. I loved playing catch. I looked over at the man with the radio. He was staring at me again. I didn’t care. I heard the sshh of the set bracing itself under my force. I watched as my momentum moved the other swings. I stopped making myself swing and let the motion slow on its own.
I wanted to go. I checked the time. Twelve minutes had passed. I wondered what other sets there were. I didn’t want to go check them out because I felt like I’d appear as a child molester or something. The man next to me stood up and faced me. I looked away. I decided to look back, thinking that if I took too long, he’d be standing right next to me. He was doing squats, then picked up his radio and walked off. I pulled out my phone and when I looked back up, he was gone.
Pull back, lean forward, feet back. Legs out, lean back. Weee.
Author of ‘A Series of Events’
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Twitter – @MichelleRStoner