This happens, sometimes. I'm at home alone but I need to be out, among the world but not communicating with it. Just being. A person, watching people who are watching back.
My backyard is my sanctuary, with its fragrant yellow roses and towering purple irises. But it's not what I need now. Instead, I lock the door--leaving my cell phone behind--and walk to the park down the road. All the swings are vacant, inviting. I sit down, heedless of the fact I'm wearing a skirt. I had put on a pair of shorts underneath for just such a purpose, anyway.
Already, my legs have settled into the familiar rhythm of pumping, then pushing back. I have to spread my ankles apart because my legs are so long, they risk brushing the gravel below and breaking that rhythm. Already, I seem to be matching height with a tree across the field.
A man and a woman cross the path in front of me, watching me as the swing's chains creak in protest. I momentarily wonder how old they think I am. I'm 26, but I've been told I look closer to 19 or 20. Would a normal 26-year old come out to a swing set? Why do I care?
Suddenly, a woman about my Mom's age appears from the sidewalk, walks behind me and takes a seat on the swing set next to mine. We exchange a brief moment of silent acknowledgement through a smile, and she starts to swing as well. I notice earbuds in her ears and can't help but wonder what she's listening to. I also notice that she and I are both wearing turquoise. For some reason, it seems significant; we're two bluejays in a neighboring tree, both aware of each other's presence but not really doing anything about it.
My legs continue the same rhythm, never faltering or changing. I see them rise up before me with every pump and laugh inwardly to think of how pale I am. The wind rushes through my hair, sending it into my mouth. I think about how much I will enjoy cutting it before long. I grew it out so I could have something to work with for the wedding, but that was back in October. Time for a change.
When I snap out of my reverie, I notice my swing-mate and I are swinging in perfect tandem like the pendulums of two grandfather clocks standing side by side. I wonder if she notices, too, or if she's still off in her own world. The lack of eye contact on her part confirms the latter. That's all right. I didn't come out here for company.
My time for reflection seems to have ended, for I feel myself slowing, and my legs stopping to allow the momentum to catch itself. Any extra motion from my legs may start my progress over, so I just sit and let the swing gradually stop. I try to stand and walk away with dignity, but my legs wobble beneath me. It seems ironic that, after using them so extensively for the past fifteen minutes, my legs no longer seem as though they want to carry me. I force them to, and I head back home.