There’s a Swingset

There’s a swingset out back, next to the large jungle gym that has the rock-climbing wall. This swingset is not new. It has been behind this school for years and years, and it creaks if you lean on the poles. But it captures the kids’ hearts, more than anything else on the playground. The recess bell rings, and then you see them, the children running all at once, trying to be the person that gets to the swings first. Everyone wants the blue swing, you see, because it’s the highest one, the one that sways the farthest. I am one of those kids running, my hair in two braids and my socks pulled high. I don’t get the blue swing, but the yellow is just fine. I swing with the other kids, all of us laughing and trying to touch the pine tree branches. Only Elijah does, he’s the only one who ever can.

I’m still one of those kids, but now my hair is in a tight ponytail and my sleeves fall pass my fingertips. I don’t get the blue swing, but the red is alright. We all try to knock out the pine cones as we kick the branches. Only Elijah does, he’s the only one who ever can, and it makes Marc mad. I’m still laughing with the others, but now they leave the swing next to me empty, and I’m not sure why.

I’m still one of those kids, but now my long dark hair is let down and I don’t feel comfortable in my too-tight jeans (but I wear them, because all the other kids are). I don’t run towards the playground anymore, I just walk. None of the kids will let me have the blue swing, anyway, or any swing at all for that matter. I watch as the girls giggle to one another as they sway, talking about boys. I sit underneath the rock wall and watch as they all try to jump the highest. They try to hit the highest pine tree branch as the soar through the air, and I bet if Elijah was still here he would be the only one who could do it. Marc comes close, but he can’t quite reach.

I’m no longer one of those kids. I’m only here because I’m volunteering in the kitchen for one day. My hair is chopped short and I don’t wear any socks with my shoes. I sit at the blue swing, and I sway back and forth, watching the little kids scramble for a seat. The set creaks more than ever, so much I worry it might fall apart at any second. I swing with the little kids, and they don’t mind. We all are laughing and trying to touch the pine tree branches. Only I can do it, and for once I’m the only one who ever can.

Little Things

You hold up the dress, the black dress with a white lace collar. You love this dress. You hugged a hero in this dress.

You hold up the shirt, the white band tee shirt that you had one of the best days of your life in. You adore this dress. You hung out with your very best friends in this dress, creating memories you will never forget.

You hold up the jeans, the black pair that now have a hole in the knee. You think these jeans are comical now, but you’re still going to wear them. You got in a fight defending your best friend after someone used a gay slur to describe them. You didn’t throw the first punch, or any punch at all, really. You just mouthed off after all was said, and the bully shoved you to the ground. Your best friend then picked you up off the ground and hugged you, muttering about how much he/she hates you. You know that’s your guys’ code for “I love you.”

You hold up the shoes, the ratty white Converse that have tears in the sides. You don’t know what you would do without these shoes. They’re the one pair that haven’t been stolen out of your gym locker, and have carried you through the high school halls. They were the things that kept your feet moving even though you couldn’t breathe, they were the ones that helped you escape to the bathroom when the classrooms grew to be too much and you just had to let a few tears fall before continuing on with your day.

You hold up the cardigan, the torn grey knit one that you’re pretty sure only has one button left. You obsess over this cardigan. It’s the one you were wearing when you ate out with your grandfather and were okay with it. When you went out to dinner, and you didn’t longingly eye the restroom sign while picking at the lettuce on your plate. When you ate french fries AND dipped them in ketchup.

You hold up the dress, the shirt, the jeans, the shoes, the cardigan. You love them all so much. You want to keep the memories perserved, keep the items just as they are in this moment. But they are dirty, and they need to be clean. You are somber over the bittersweet moment that is taking them into the laundry room to shove them in the washing machine. They will now be scrubbed of all those moments, the ones of  hugging heros and being one to your best friend ad laughing and crying and eating.

But that’s okay. You’ll wear them all again. And new memories will be made.