Round-faced and tow-headed. Tan from hours of summer sun. A kid on the swings. Back-and-forth. Little hands wrapped tight. Around the chains. Arms and legs pumping. Eyes closed on the backswing. Open on the return.
My first taste of freedom. Like flying.
Summer days spent on the swings. Singing Elvis Presley songs. For my Dad, while he worked in the yard. For my Mom, while she canned and pickled and cleaned on the other side of the kitchen window screen. The smell of dill and vinegar hot in the air. The taste of it in my mouth and lungs as I sang…
You ain’t nothin’ but a Hound Dog!
One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready now go cat, go!
I just wanna be your teddy bear!
Because I loved to swing. To feel my insides rise and fall. And to get that tickle moving through me. The one that made me laugh. And smile. And sing.
Those Elvis songs. Because that’s what Mom and Dad listened to. Danced to. Sang along with. As the eight-track tape played on the big console stereo. Mom swaying to the beat. Dad tapping his fingers. Moving his feet. The whole family connected by song. And summer. And I knew, as a little kid, that these days – full of bright hope and warm sun – would last.
I did not think
about the things that happened yesterday. Did not worry about the day to come.
I did not wonder if I was being a good son. A good boy. A good friend. Because
I believed in everything. I forced out loose teeth to share with the Tooth
Fairy. I wrote letters to Peter Rabbit. Left out cookies and milk for Santa
Claus. And when the night was dark, and I was scared by the rumbling of thunder
above me, I knew that it was God. Just taking a little time out. To move
And in all of it, I knew that another day would come. I would rise with the sun. Eat my bowl of Fruity Pebbles, drink the last drops of milk from the bowl, and I would return to summer.
For my first taste of freedom. Again.
Arms and legs pumping.
Eyes closed on the backswing.
Open on the return.