, Newburyport, MA

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August 14, 2013

Swinging into a new era


It had done its time and then some. It probably wanted to go.

But I am not happy with the perfectly manicured lawn. I miss the swing set. I do. I don’t miss its rotting timbers or squeaky brackets or its cracked plastic slide. I miss what the swing represents.

That swing was there to celebrate when my daughters “graduated” from kindergarten. It was the backdrop to a time when they wore perfectly coordinated Gymboree outfits with bows in their hair and squealed when they heard the ice cream truck coming down the street.

The swing was there to help soothe a scraped knee, a cut elbow or a bruised ego. It was a place to go for solace when the grown-ups just didn’t understand. It was a carefree, judgment-free zone with a code of conduct and language all its own. It was privy to diary entries and secret codes and all that was sacred to an 8-year-old.

Perhaps its memory was full and its duty was to go.

I often wonder what happened to that swing set. It initially made its way to a neighbor’s and then was replaced by a newer, shinier, much swankier version of itself. Maybe our creaky swing set is off with another family, chronicling some different adventures that are unique to them, providing the backdrop of childhood to another group of unsuspecting kids.

That would be a good reason to go.

It may seem silly to be grieving the loss of something as commonplace and ordinary as a swing set, but I suspect many of you understand the underlying significance of the emotion. Of course, it’s really about moving into another period. It’s about letting go and bracing for the next phase with all its unknowns. It’s about taking the leap off the swing at its highest point and hoping you — and the people you love — land on their feet, happy and healthy and racing toward the sound of the ice cream truck or whatever it is that makes their heart sing.

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