On Fridays, my mom would pick both me and my brother up from school and we’d go out to the country to see my grandparents. My grandparents lived in an RV/5th wheel out at my uncle’s property. When they weren’t there, they were driving their 5th wheel around the U.S., seeing as much of the world as they could, sometimes months at a time. We loved having them home and going to visit them.
What I especially have fond memories of was the tree swing. My grandpa (Papa) made it himself, as he was a very crafty man. He made it just right for us grandchildren—not too high but not too low. Sometimes, he would go out there with me and push me really high. He would spin me around and then push me, and he always could catch me when I wanted to stop. I loved it.
Other times, I would go to the tree swing by myself and just swing. My mom would be talking to my grandparents and I would just go to be alone. Not in a way of alienation—I was okay with being alone. I actually quite enjoyed it. My brother was usually jumping on the trampoline or exploring, and though a lot of the time I was joining in on that, there were many times I just did my own thing. I would kick around the dirt and dust with my shoes and push myself to go as high as I could, with the little butterflies in my stomach that came with the draw back of the swing from being high up. I would watch the river in front of me move: each time I went out there, it was a little higher or a little lower. Sometimes, the water came up so high, it started to flood the grass in front of the tree swing. I would swing bravely over the “ocean” of water beneath me.
Sometimes, we would stay late enough for the sunset to come and to see the beautiful colors reflected on the river. Other times it would be chilly and I didn’t have a sweatshirt. Most of the time, I got mosquito bites. In the end, I never regretted the time I spent there.
That tree swing brought me so much joy.
Now, my uncle’s property still stands, but it is a business owned by someone else. They have replaced my Papa’s swing and put in a new and improved, all white swing. I see pictures of students who go to take their senior pictures swinging on the new tree swing, and I can’t help but remember what memories I have from that very same spot. I have memories of giggles, dizziness from spinning too much, songs I sang to myself when I was swinging alone, etc.
Same spot, different swing. It makes me sad to see the new swing. What was a place of such meaningful memories for me is now a place for photo sessions and people who think “hey, here’s a swing”.
I know, I know. I probably sound ridiculous. But if we really think about it…finding something that makes us really happy can be hard to come by. Not only that, but something that we enjoy doing by ourselves and we don’t feel the need for peer recognition when doing it…now that’s difficult. That “thing” for me was my tree swing, and since it has been gone, those sweet memories only make me want to find something new that makes my heart happy like that tree swing did.
Until then, I will always have memories of my tree swing.