My little friend Hayleigh came over - before her family moved to Saudi Arabia <sob> (also, did you know that you cannot just go to Saudi Arabia?) - and we went to the park behind my house. I plopped her in the kiddie swing and we swung. I swung. I employed all of the regular moves that one uses when swinging - legs out going foward, legs in going backward. It was glorious. And then I got to that height. Everyone knows that height. It's the height where you're suspended for one quarter of a second and you get that sense of flying.
When I was younger, this moment of suspension was the only point in swinging. Unless you were like, just hanging out on the swings and talking or whatever. You got on your favorite swing (the farther toward the center the better), and raced whoever was sitting next to you, to the top; the top of your swinging ability. Thinking about it now, I'm quite honestly not sure why swinging is allowed, considering the lack of safety. I want to tell you about the time that my classmate in the fifth grade fell off of the swings at a considerable height and broke both of her wrists and her nose, but I wont. It was the most dramatic thing of my life, but I'm not going into it.
Does anyone remember that episode of recess when that girl swings all the way over the bar and they all have an existential crisis? I found it on YouTube, because YouTube is the best thing that has ever happened to the world. If you can spare the ten minutes, please watch it.
The idea, especially in terms of this episode, is that swinging brings a sort of religious elation that made us feel like nothing we have ever experienced before, or will experience anywhere else.
Swinging as an adult - at least as this adult - is not a religious experience. It's actually more of a threatening death-like experience. Swinging next to Hayleigh, I got to that height and a horrible chill went through my body saying, unmistakably, stop it. This is no longer for you. You've been through things, now. You'll be through more things. Why not try swinging in smaller increments? It's still fun. But we've done this. Let's not do it anymore. I stopped and said to Hayleigh, "Swinging is harder as an adult." She didn't respond.
I turn twenty-eight tomorrow (or today if you don't read this the minute I post it), and I've been telling people for a long time that I can't wait to be thirty; and I can't. Everyone knows, your thirties are way better than your twenties (read that sarcastically, I beg of you). As I feel these little moments of removal from my youth - despite my general emotional state - I'm brought to a new realization. The farther I get from the difficulty of my youth, the more childhood joys I leave behind. I'm forever looking forward, and I don't feel guilty about that. There's a reason we need to remind ourselves to live in the moment. It's just not that natural. In all of my looking forward and continuous anticipation of what's to come, it's hard not to feel tiny bits of loss. I think that's healthy, but it makes me feel old. Like I'm suddenly old enough to reflect on what was.