An Open Letter to the Lady With the Swing Set
Dear swing set lady,
Hello, I am the pre-school aged escape artist who lived in your neighborhood back in the 1960’s, you know, the one with the raging case of swing set envy.
Apparently, on afternoon walks with my mom I had spied what I determined to be the top of a beautiful red metal swing set in your backyard. Please forgive me, but I couldn’t wait the six months for Christmas when I had been promised to receive my very own swing set straight from the North Pole.
I was obsessed! I had even marked the page in the Sears catalog.
But sometimes a girl’s just gotta swing and I could get to yours without crossing any streets so…
Now, don’t feel sorry for me I got plenty of swinging done on our family excursions to Petit Park, but when you factor in my fearlessness, my ability to wander off and my insatiable need to swing—well, I just couldn’t be stopped.
Or at least that’s what I’ve heard over the years.
People discover their wanderlust in many different ways. Most of my friends found theirs in the gap year between high school and college. You have to understand wanderlust. It is fueled by curiosity and funded by courage. You could say mine followed the same path. It started with curiosity but since I’m pretty sure four-year-olds don’t possess courage per say, mine was fueled by envy.
And an insatiable need to swing.
Also, my profound lack of understanding of and general disdain for delayed gratification —an affliction which haunts me to this day!
So you can look at it this way swing set lady, my wanderlust kicked in when I decided to embark on my solitary field trip to your backyard.
I don’t know what got into me that day. Maybe we couldn’t go to the park, or I was shown on a calendar that Christmas was a shit-ton of days away but as the story goes: one minute I was there, the next I was not. Apparently, I was one of those shape shifting little kids and my thirty-pound, white haired self could disappear as quickly as a puff of smoke.
Now don’t think for one second that it was my mother’s fault. I hate it when you get judgy.
You know how it is! You must have been a mother, you had a freakin’ swing set in your backyard!
Raise your hand if you haven’t turned your head for one second to see if you have a chive in your teeth and the baby rolled off the changing table—or the couch—or the bed. Or your toddler wandered into the abyss that is Nordstroms.
I thought so.
Anyway, you have to admit, the fact that I knew my name and phone number at that age was impressive (EM 363-6932), and if you’d asked me I would have read you Green Eggs and Ham and any other Dr. Seuss book you owned. You have to admit—that’s some damn fine parenting.
Anyway, back to you. You were very nice to me while we waited for my mom to stop vomiting and come and pick me up. I remember she wasn’t mad at all! She was crying she was so happy to see me! I almost expected a parade on our walk home.
I guess I want to thank you, swing set lady; for being my childhood neighbor. Your kindness (I remember you giving me a cookie), and your ability to keep your wits about you and not freak out when you looked out your kitchen window one morning to see a strange little girl swinging, made me feel safe in my lust to wander and THAT has been an invaluable gift to me.
And thank you for talking to my mom because I never had to wait until December—I got a brand new swing set of my very own like, the next day.