If you shoved me in the DeLorean and Scrooge’d me into my ten-year-old self, I’m not so sure my side of the playground would be buzzing with activity.
Or swimming with sticky fingers from flavor ice pops. Crackling with sneakers scrubbing pavement.
I’m not so sure you’d run up to me with a jump rope and ask if I could hold one end.
“Please, oh please,” you wouldn’t have said. “We absolutely need your help. Come with me.”
More likely, you’d find me scraping my shoes against a pile of woodchips as I swung back and forth, back and forth, so close to those smiling faces and churning backward all the same.
That go-to interview question pops into my head: “What’s your biggest weakness.”
“Well, sir, you see it’s, um, kind of a funny story. Have you been to Home Depot lately?”
“Home Depot, sir. You know those swing sets with striped overhangs and monkey bars? I’m kind of like a swing.”
“You are,” he might say.
Because I am sure that if it were a woman, she would already be pulling her wallet out of her purse and unfolding a photo gallery longer than my forearm. Pictures of her own children pushing each other at the neighborhood playground in her hands.
“A swing,” I’d say. “Yes. I’ve been waiting for too long now like one of those rusty swings cracking and weathered, hoping the store employee might brush his forehead with his orange apron pocket and drag me inside. Out of somebody else’s rainstorm. Away from the back of the pile. Into somebody’s backyard.”
He might not follow, but maybe he will. Maybe he had some swing days of his own, back on the playground, hands tucked inside overall pockets.
I am sort of hoping his childhood years weren’t categorized by foursquare games and knockout championships and getting presidential on the mile run in gym class. I am sort of hoping he got an X for that portion.
Because just like I learned to lace up my sneakers and round a 400-meter track four times, I am ready to stop sitting and pausing and shuffling and waiting and hoping and praying some swing set lover comes over to sit on me. Learning how to take Rooted In Place less metaphorically.
I hope the rest of you Swing Set Souls are, too.