You Would Drink Too If It Happened To You
These days, my moments of peace are hard-won. Sometimes whiskey’s up to the task; at the bar Saturday night, my-hip hop dance teacher Erin (Miss Erin if you’re nasty) bought me two “shots of Jack,” as she calls them (“shots of Jack”…as if they were photographs). I was at ease then, as if I had nothing to solve, or had solved it all already. I could follow her through the gestalt-lit game room and out to the dance floor, relieved.
Then, later, a new, unexpected calm. An early spring seven-pm sunset, before leaves and before bugs. My friend Sue and I were driving around in her huge pickup (with its dairy farm shitstink) after errands. We drove to the public tennis court in our town to heckle two of my friends, brothers, as they played their now-hapless, now surprisingly graceful game.
We ought to have been line-judging for my friends in order to stem the inevitable arguments, but I looked to the side of the court, and there they were: SWINGS, and not the godawful OSHA-safety-approved ones; these were the old fashioned, steel bar, infinite-height-achieving swings. The swings from my rickety, overheated elementary school’s playground. I couldn’t even sprint toward them; I had to lope, skip, and variously sway my body with joy.
I plopped down on a swing, grabbed the chains, and started pumping my legs like I hadn’t done since the fifth grade. My body was way too long for that swing; I had to precipitously bend my knees under me to not scrape the ground with my toes, but I got going, and I got going high. Next to me, my best friend swung, though not with my mania. Swinging! It was jarring, gut-swirling, dizzying; the moving air pushed my hair into my eyes and then out behind me. Sue and I cracked jokes about our old, heavy bones on those swings, and we watched as the brothers played their set in the closing light; they laughed and swore, took bows at their double-faults.
Soon it was time to go; Sue had to make dinner for her husband, and it was getting too dark for regulation tennis (even the laughable kind) ; that moment had no intention of lasting, but it had something to say before it left: though it would not go so far as to say there are simple solutions to impossible problems, it did imply that not everything has to be impossible. Those minutes swinging were better than a gin and tonic, better than a finger of Talisker; I felt, for a brief, cracked-open time, purely good.
As the swing slowed down, I leapt off at the just the right time, landed lightly on my feet as I always had as a child; how intoxicating to discover that one possesses something that has not yet changed!