The swing set

“Swing high, swing low, up and down we go!”

I sang this to my nephew late on Saturday afternoon, as I pushed him in his swing. The very swing my father, now his grandfather, hung in the very same place where three swings—for my two sisters and me—once hung, beneath overgrown and ever-blossoming wisteria branches, beneath the deep shade of two 75-year-old walnut trees my parents cut down last summer.  

My nephew squealed, “Higher, higher!”  I sang louder, louder.

Today, I swung high and swung low. Up, down I went. Squeals and tears and all.

In the course of a 90-minute yoga class, you can crest the apex and then crash into the abyss.  It’s the way it goes.  We yogis embrace it.  We thrive on it, actually.  So much so that we keep returning to the hot room to see just how high we can climb and just how low we must fall before we discover our own capability to recover, to dig our toes and fingers into the grit and pain, and pull ourselves free.  It’s just the way of it.  I don’t know what else to tell you.

But—in life?  

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t embrace the lows.  While necessary, educational even, low points are rarely my shining moments.  (Can anyone say otherwise?)  And, while I enjoy the highs, I’m always well aware that I’m peaking and, concurrently, then immediately worrying about the sharp descent.  

These past two weeks have slapped me black and blue and left me roadside.  The last spell of days have cuddled against me like an attentive, doting lover and then left me like a breeze, silent, careless, gone.  I’ve felt wonderfully contented and happy and then miserably confused and overwhelmed.  I’ve enjoyed great bouts of soul-satisfying love and attention and then painful moments of loneliness, of loss, of realizing I still want what I don’t—or, more frightening, can’t—have right now, this instant.

Tonight, after a dinner with my sister and brother in law and ex-boyfriend/man-who-still-intrigues-me, after limping through the front door, I fell onto my dear roommate’s bed, a tangle of limbs and sadness, and began talking, venting, letting go.  A tear or two fell out of my eyes without me even realizing it—I turned my head and suddenly discovered a damp pillow beneath my cheek.  I told her how I didn’t understand how the very things I once felt so sure and confident of could crumble and fall to the sea so quickly, so thoughtlessly.  I mumbled about hurt, about disappointment, about stress.  I fretted about all that’s slipped beyond my control, my reach, my organization.

Through a sob, I confessed that my heart….my heart was slipping.  I could feel it.

She stood at the bottom of her bed, and listened, and looked me straight in the eye, and then said, plainly, adamantly, “Don’t go there.  Don’t do it.  You were doing so well.  You just have to focus on the progress you’ve made, on the person you are now.  And fuck him and the douches who don’t deserve your time in the first place.”

Swing high, swing low—or, just swing.  You’re bound to hit something, right?

My roommate, a wonderful friend of mine from college, and I laughed together and then spent the next half hour debating which belt and earring combo she should wear with a beautiful green dress she’s wearing in a wedding this weekend.  Within minutes, she completely distracted me from my woes, my worries.  By the time I left her bed and crawled into my own, rubbed my cat’s soft little head and pulled this computer onto my lap, I felt better, calmer, safer.

After all, even if you miss in your swings, at least you’ve tried.  Yes?

Tomorrow, I will slug my way through another rough, tough day at the office.  And then I will show my old, beat-up, 18-year-old car to two people who I will beg to buy it.  I will try to leave bygones as bygones.  And then, hopefully, if all goes well, I will take myself to the 6 p.m. yoga class and leave this all behind on my mat.  Any day is rightly done when yoga is involved.

And I will forgive myself for these preoccupations, these wonderings, about him and me, about who I was, about how he saw me, about the ifs and the whens and the maybes.  The highs and the lows are tolerable, if I just keep perspective.

It’s like this:  

I jokingly apologized to my roommate for being such a shit show tonight, as she packed for a busy, exciting, love-filled, friend-filled weekend of fun in Florida.  She giggled, squeezed my arm, and said I was no such thing. “Don’t be silly!”

As I stood before the bathroom mirror, brushing my teeth, brushing back my hair, brushing away the day on my face, I thought, “Well, even if it’s a shit show, I ducked at least a few slings.”

Ducking, swinging, aiming, missing.  

I try.  And then I try again.  And again.

Until the day is rightly done. 

14 responses to “The swing set

  1. Great one this.Loved the explicity n play of emotions.

  2. Thanks, Deeptesh. And welcome! :)

  3. HELLO, recurring theme!! Haha. I like the swing set, that’s one that I’ve never thought of before… I DID always love the swings… heck, I STILL love the swings. Hope someone buys your car!

  4. Ha, I know, Juliana. I thought of your “bound and rebound” as I was writing this. Seriously, they’re such simple lessons. Why won’t they stick already?!?!

  5. The swing, the bounce, the pendulum, the sine wave of life… In the low moments it’s nice to have a roommate you can talk to. I lived with my best friend for five years and we had lots of these nights between the two of us – each doing our best to encourage and gently kick the other’s ass, while simultaneously sympathizing. Yay for the girls! And for wine and/or pie – which always helps…

  6. Dorothy: I went from living alone for 3.5 years in DC to living with one of my dearest friends from college. And after nearly nine months, I can finally say I absolutely LOVE having a roommate again. Especially one who gently kicks me in the ass every now and then. And, of course, splits a bottle of wine, watches cheesy romantic comedies, dishes about dates, shares fun jewelry, sympathizes, and reminds me of who I am and what I deserve. Yay for the girls, indeed!

    (Okay, okay—and yay for the boys, too. Just, well, not so much at the moment.)

  7. I love the swing set analogy with yoga. Beautiful and true. And yes, any day that includes yoga is a day rightly done. Amen to that! (I think I need a roommate!) :)

  8. You are a lovely writer, my dear.

  9. Yes, I didn’t mean to leave out the boys. They get a yay as well, just in a different application.

  10. I’ve learned not to so much fear the lows, but to embrace them as they now, more quickly now, pass. They’re going to happen. Period. To live in fear of them is not living. You’ve got it going on.

  11. If not for the lows, I wouldn’t know the highs when they hit me.

  12. i really like how refreshing you write about yoga! great intro about the swing set.. you always make it seem so interesting :D i often feel like i’m “low”, especially of the realms of men/relationships :(

  13. K8: I whole-heartedly agree. The lows are going to happen—period. All we can do is live our way through them to higher ground.

    Rachel: Kind of like how sometimes you don’t know how good you have it until it’s gone, no?

    Floreta: Oh well thank you! And, yes, I hear you on the men-related lows. I’ve been in a bit of a slump myself lately. But, onward and upward! Swing high, swing high! :)

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