No. 16 – Swinging

A week had gone by at my grandparents’ house, and I could not be more ready to go back to Texas. Not that my parents’ house was a desirable destination, but at least it would submerge me back into reality. Up here, it felt like I was swimming in a pool of gelatin. Every effort on my part was maximized, but my progress was minimized. In short, I was flailing yet going nowhere. But I did accomplish emotional exhaustion, that I had managed.

I never had a spare moment alone. It was as if the entire household had conspired to tag-team who was responsible for watching Sarah. I didn’t understand the perceived need to keep me consistently entertained with company. But it was infuriating and ever so frustrating. When I was alone, my thoughts could travel outside the confines of my limiting mind. Alone, my thoughts could rocket off into the unknown. And given enough time alone, I could sit in wait for my thought boomerangs to return. Coming back with new-found perspectives and information. But when deprived of this solitude and accompanied by another person, most of my thoughts never had a chance to escape the chasms of my mind. The few persistent ones that did escape, were prevented from coming back to me. It was as if a thought-blocking force field prevented any original thoughts to enter or exit my mind.

One afternoon, I caught a spare moment alone. I was in the living room, sitting on the couch with my sister, watching some uninteresting thing on the television. She had gone upstairs to retrieve her phone charger because her cell phone was running low on battery power. I sat on the couch for a moment, before realizing that I was by myself. I looked around the room and quickly got up from the couch. I slinked through the kitchen, stepped down a few stairs to the side door, and slipped outside. I gingerly closed the door so as not to alert anyone I had left the house. I walked alongside the deck, up the driveway, past the garage, and found the sliding, glider swing in the backyard. I surveyed my surroundings, and it appeared that I truly had carved out some time alone. I let out a sigh of relief as I crumbled into the seat.

I closed my eyes, lay my head back, and breathed deeply in the solitude surrounding me. The forest green and white striped chair cushions and matching metal frame blended in well with the greenery around it. The glider swing was stationed about the middle of the lot and was on the left side of the property. The chair backed up to the neighbors’ rectangular yard on the left and faced the neighbors’ rectangular yard lot on the right. No fences between any of the yards. A row of trees was at my back, outlining the plot lines between my grandparents’ yard and the neighbors’ property, and a big, open field of grass was to my front. Out of my peripherals I could see the white-sided garage, so I tilted my head just enough so that green saturated my vision.

The warmth of the sun peeking through the tree tops comforted me. I opened my eyes and allowed a moment for them to refocus on my surroundings. My thoughts had been so suppressed, that they bolted at the slightest opening of freedom. Some shot straight up in the sky. Others bounced off the tree tops. And some launched forward into the yard, taking off as fast as they could in every direction opposite of me. I sat back, amazed at the power I had within me. So many thoughts and ideas streaking through the air. Hoping that some would return, enlightening me with a clear plan with which I could move forward.

My right leg dangled off the seat of the stationary swing and rested on the ground while my left leg settled in between the angle of my knee and right thigh. My right foot pressed slowly into the earth and the swing began to sway. I continued the gentle motion, and my body started to relax. The tenseness in my shoulders lessened and my breath slowed. And then the sound of tires crunching on a cement driveway pulled my attention to my right, just beyond the garage. It was my grandmother, returning home from work. My guard reassembled and my breath intensified. My stomach dropped as I glanced back towards the empty yard in front of me. My thoughts! None of them had returned. Frantically, I glanced up at the tree tops. Nope, there was nothing. A lump formed in my throat as the sliver of my solitude blacked out completely. My gaze returned back towards the driveway, as I spotted my grandmother walking towards me. Alright, I thought to myself, be ready for anything.

“Hey Gram,” I greeted her as she reached the stationary swing.

“Why are you sitting out here by yourself?” my grandmother questioned as she joined me on the swing.

“Just enjoying the beautiful weather,” I fudged. Well, partially. I didn’t want to let on I came out here to think, because then we’d have to get into a discussion about what I was thinking about. So to avoid that whole mess, I attempted to keep our conversation on the surface.

Perhaps seeing through my murky answer and ignoring it, my grandmother dove right into the depths.

“You know, we all go through tough spots Sarah. When you’re young, you think you know what you want, and you’re open to so many ideas. As you get older, you learn that certain things aren’t meant to be. You become less open to everything and are more cautious of what you go along with.”

I sat there in silence, just listening.

She continued, “When I was your age, I was open-minded too. I believed in a lot of things that I don’t believe in now. Because now, I know better.”

My outward silence continued. Inward, my mind was reeling. Was she referring to my relationship with Kendrae, a black man, as being open-minded? And that in a few years, I would grow out of it, and know better? Don’t say anything, Sarah. Just keep it together.  

“We all love you, and we just want what’s best for you. Everyone makes mistakes. God wanted you to get caught Sarah, so you could fix it before you get in any deeper.”

That last bit, knocked the breath out of my lungs.

God wanted this?

God wanted this?

God wanted this?

Those three words echoed in my head. I felt dizzy. But I was afraid that if I tried to stand up, I would be sick. So I just sat there. Unable to move. Unable to speak. Barely able to breathe. How could people who appeared to mean so well, miss the mark so terribly?

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