I’ve had such a craving for something for a while. No, it’s not a moist rich piece of chocolate cake or perfectly al dente and succulent spaghetti carbonara. And while it is good news that we are able to remove our masks outside, if fully vaccinated, it wasn’t that longing either.
A few month’s ago, my new oasis right outside my apartment building in NYC opened. It was a new park on Manhattan’s Upper West Side called Riverside Park South and it became my refuge, along with Dea’s (my dog) during the height of the pandemic. While I wrote about it a number of months ago, since then Dea and I have walked down every path in all directions, that leads to the Hudson River and then at the end of our mile plus walk, we briskly walk back up on one of the twisty white uphill paths until we find our perfect bench to sit on at the end. But, one place we had yet to frequent was the swing area which holds about 18 swings, some with bucket seats for younger children and the others with a seat without a back for older kids.
I had not been on a swing since I was 5 or 6 years old. My parents had not yet separated and they rented a small house about half an hour outside of the city during the summer. I have crystallized in my memory being on the swing in the backyard area, my brother pushing me higher and higher, and I was feeling blissful and at peace.
The swings in this new park are in an area on the way down towards the river. Over the months, I had witnessed many children joyfully experiencing the glee of being on a swing. I have even seen adult men and women get onto the backless swings and I felt a sense of envy because I, too, desperately wanted to try it out but felt too self-conscious.
One day last week, it was the perfect temperature, 77 degrees and the sky was as close to a robin’s egg blue as I had ever seen in NYC. After Dea and I finished our mile walk down by the river, my hankering became intense as we approached the swing area. I said to Dea, “O.K. should we go inside to the swings?” She began to pull towards it and I knew she was game.
At one of the backless swings, I gingerly sat down centering myself on the seat that felt just wide enough for me. Still a bit self conscious, I looked around the see if anyone noticed or cared that I was on the swing. Nope. No one. Dea was at the ready to be picked up and placed on my lap facing outwards, like we sit when we find the perfect bench to sit on after our walks each day. I began to move the swing a little at first to make sure Dea was OK with the motion. While I tend to anthropomorphize, I could swear she was laughing and smiling.
I held onto Dea tightly with one arm and begin to push the swing just a little higher with my legs. It transported me right back to when I was a little girl. It took me out of the mindset of Covid -19, having felt so closed in and isolated living alone with Dea and into another world for those few minutes. I could not believe how much Dea seemed to enjoy this feeling of a freeing motion.
As I left my uneasiness of going onto a swing, I told myself and Dea we would do this again and again. If that’s all it took to feel happy for a short time, it was a must. Whether it was because of my memoires as a six-year-old, on a swing with my brother by my side, or just about a feeling that the world was opening up again after Covid-19, I can’t say.
But what I discovered most about this feeing of release swinging up towards the sky, with Dea on my lap, was how it brought me to a new mediative and serene place. It actually was a swing upwards in my mood.