What It Means to Swing
by Wallace Mack
Playgrounds are dangerous places.
Jungle gyms are cold, metal structures from which kids swing and hang; suspended in the air, dangling above the earth beneath them. One sweaty palm too many and that earth could become your fate.
Merry-go-rounds are cold, metal spinning surfaces on which, one kid decides to push with all her might, sending a number of other kids into a spiraling frenzy. Not only do merry-go-rounds pose a Final Destination like risk of death, but there’s also the imminent motion sickness that follows. Who thought this was a good idea?
But the swings; the swings are probably the most risky of all. There is never a guarantee that those metal chains are fastened securely within the infrastructure of a swing. There is no guarantee that once you gain enough traction to go up, your little feet will make it back down in one piece. Playgrounds are shitty but kids are tough.
By the time you read this, I will have turned 24 years old. It's my birthday and today I acknowledge the playgrounds of my childhood that taught me how to swing. To swing is to trust. Once you take flight, there is no guarantee that you will land safely. Not on swings, not on planes, and certainly not with your dreams. Say hello, then say farewell to the places you know.
Playgrounds are really dangerous. Last night, the adults of planet Earth spent hours freaking out about Donald Trump and bills and Joseline Hernandez and the future of healthcare. None of us know what the fuck we're talking about. Whoever he is, wherever he is, some 10 year-old-boy stayed out practicing his jump shot as late as the street lights would let him last night. He doesn’t want to be the faggot at recess tomorrow. Playgrounds are dangerous places, but especially so when the other little boys think you're a faggot. I hope that one day he becomes an adult, spinning on planet Earth, stressed about the Donald Trump, bills, Joseline Hernandez and healthcare concerns of his time. I hope that one day he gets to leave the playground, but not before he learns how to swing.
The playgrounds of my childhood taught me to swing—how to swing on niggas and how to swing in peace. They have, in many ways, kept me alive. By the time this gets published, I'll be 24 years old (and hopefully drunk.) I am proud to let you know that at 24, I know what happiness is. Just tonight I’ve had some pretty good vegetable fried rice. I know what it means to be good on money and I also know what it feels like to be good and broke. I know good sex. I’ve experienced good friendship. I appreciate a good joke. I know what it feels like to love someone good. I know what it feels like to be loved good. I know the devastation of a good heartbreak. I know good.
I’ve spent so much time on this planet twiddling my thumbs and yelling in the dark. I know good, but for some reason, the sky has given me another year to continue my exploration for great.
This morning I thought a lot about boys like Tamir Rice and Jordan Edwards. About little boys that die everyday that I'll never have enough energy to mourn. I thought about little boys in Skechers. About boys who never make it to 24. I thought about little boys who have no idea who they are. Little boys that will grow up to be abusers and little boys that will grow up to be abused. Little boys that probably only know good. This morning, I think I thought way too much about little boys who never get to leave the playground.
I am running and my eyes are set on one destination. Playgrounds are dangerous, but my swing is set. There is no guarantee that once I gain enough traction to go up, my little feet will make it back down in one piece. This is what it means to swing.