July 31st, 2008


Once when I was in high school my friends and I snuck out at night (well, okay, more than once). Boys were not involved. We walked down the street to the elementary school and swung on the swings in the dark. Even at the time, I recognized that this would be something I would remember deeply and forever.

The veneer of giggling and high school posturing has fallen away from the memory and I am left with the pure swish of motion through the darkness. I remember the sprinklers chuffing over the grass, the fine spray in the air. There were stars.

Last night, after I went to bed early, insomnia attacked me. I put on my jeans and went for a walk. I didn’t have a goal in mind. I was so tired that I shuffled like an old woman. I remembered, halfway around the block, that I now live close to an elementary school with swings.

The bark of the playground threatened my flip-flopped feet. I chose the swing highest from the ground. As I pumped my legs, the chains creaked, first the right side, then the left. I saw the sky swirled with cloud.

A car pulled up. A girl got out and hopped the short fence instead of bothering to go around to the gate. She chose a swing several down from mine and called out to her friends. In her case, there were boys involved and the swings were just a meeting place on the way to somewhere else, somewhere less dark, somewhere full of laughter and music.

I left them to make their own memories.