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A Night At The Park*
18 October, 1999
author: Rebecca Ditch-Hammack (aka Dreamer)

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     I tired of the same old hum-drum life at an early age. Doing the things that everyone else did seemed to be lack of life. So many people work so hard for the future, they forget to take the time to enjoy the time that is now. To me this has always seemed strange. Then again I have always been said to be "special" for some reason. Of course being as I always have bee, I don't see anything wrong with it. So I don't conform. I do not bend from what I believe is right. It's what makes me unique. I could never see why other people thought I was the one that was strange just because I like to enjoy life..

     My friends seem to like to be around me for my unique way of thinking. I make them laugh. I spend my life trying to see both sides. And if I can't, then it drives me a bit crazy. In my craziness of thinking and over thinking I sometimes share some pretty funny thoughts.

     Why, is the question of ponderers and poets. They say to understand is wisdom. So I strive to understand. Not that I think myself wise. Quite the contrary.  I think of myself more of just a student of life. I go through life with the eyes of a child. I enjoy when others join me on my walk through life, seeing for a time, as I do. "I never thought of it that way" is a familiar phrase of my friends. I just dare to be different.

******************


     Par sat and watched TV as I finished my e-mails for the night. It was a warm, end of summer type night, around midnight. Par and I, being the night owl types, were very awake. For some reason I decided I wanted to go have a swing at the park. A strange thing for an adult to want to do in the middle of the night. Strange thing for most adults to do at any time.

     You could imagine my surprise when I said I wanted to walk to the park to go and swing, that Par was up and ready to go with me so quick. Usually strange looks and the question of why, would be the usual response. So to the park we went.

     As we walked we enjoyed the breeze. It looked as though it might rain soon. There were no stars to be seen as we looked into the sky. I had to ask Par to slow down as his legs were quite alot longer then mine and his pace was quicker. He told me that other people had told him the same thing. But he adjusted his pace without it having to even be mentioned again. Whether his pace really slowed and stayed that way or my own excitement of getting to swing made me walk faster, I am not really sure. I was so excited that someone actually was going with me on one of my more strange, quirky, midnight excursions.

     Several nights I had made the 4 block walk by myself. Slipping out quietly as my husband slept. I often thought about taking my dog, but it was too hard to restrain and worry about a dog while swinging. Usually it was a quiet time of walking and contemplating. Always thankfully happy of how lucky I was to be able to have the spirit that felt free enough to do such a fun thing. I did always in my joy, have to think about the many people that would think me weird for doing so.   I always felt sorry that they would never enjoy the breeze in their hair. Nor would they experience the free feeling of flying through the air leaning back and just being young at heart. I think my actions could be referred to as "Peter Pan syndrome".

     Par was one of the rare people that like me, enjoyed some of the simple joys of life. I had made that discovery over the last week we had spent together. How like in thoughts we could be. He knew how to enjoy life. Young at heart. Even though he is quite a bit younger then me to start with.

     We talked about our deeper thoughts, of our feelings, and life up until that point. We covered many topics that night. How we were brought up. Parents, friends, just things in general. And we did swing. Both of us soaring to the sky leaning back. We felt the breeze in out faces and the feeling of falling of the return. I could tell my long, loosened, hair brushed the dry dusty ground as I leaned back on the swings return. I didn't care. It felt wonderful. A touch of freedom in a hurried life.

     I watched as Par's own joy filled his face. His feet easily seen above the top of the swing set. As he soared higher then me. He too felt free. We laughed at our fun. I am sure since I had found that we were same in mind set, that he too thought of how few people would do what we were doing.

     We sometimes stopped and just talked. About choices we had made. We walked across the park.. I showed him where the creek was when there was more rain. I wished it would not been dry so he too could have enjoyed the peaceful place of my thoughts and dreams. I missed the sounds of the water as it tripped over the stones in its path. But it still didn't steal from the evening.

     We moved from our place of flight to the high slide. Par scampered up the ladder and sat to slide down. But unfortunately age does have some problems at parks. Like the size of a person. He couldn't freely slide.. And stayed sitting at the top. He seemed a bit disappointed till I grabbed his feet and pulled allowing him to slide down, ....well sorta anyway.

     From there we walked to a shorter, wider slide and then the merry-go-round. He spun it around riding it with the skill of a child. I too got on.. Across from him I sat. He jumped off and started spinning it faster and faster so that I could barely hold on. I had forgotten the strength it took to stay on and found a good foot hold over one of the bars so not to fall off. He laughed keeping me on it a couple minutes longer then I was comfortable.. Finally he let me off. It took a few seconds to get the dizzy feeling to leave my feet. I laughed about it.

     He took off for the teeter-tauter. I was not about to try that.. They were old and I feared our combined weight would break it. Par walked slowly up one side of the see-saw and tried balancing it in the middle. He reminded me of the guy pretend to surf on the York Peppermint Patty commercial. He had good balance. Something I have never had much of.

     After he felt he had mastered his surfing the see-saw and impressing me slightly, we headed back to the swings. One last good long swing. We did a bit more talking about how we were brought up. And our real life childhood's, some of the difficulties of growing up, and feeling different then other people.

     Both of us were heading toward new chapters in our life's book. He would be getting married in a little over a month. I was again moving away from my friends and what I knew as familiar. Though both our futures were very uncertain we both met them head on and eagerly.

     We talked till we finally felt the first of the raindrops beginning to fall. I didn't really mind if we got soaked on the walk home I felt so good. After all that is one thing about not being a kid. No one would yell at us for coming in all wet. We were lucky though the rain didn't come. Only the first drops of the encouragement to go home. It brought our evening to a close.

      I think that I will treasure that night with Par for a really long time, if not forever. So many people would have just tried to talk me out of my silliness. They would find me nothing but absurd. But just this once I was blessed with the company of another person who lives for the moment. A spirit youthful in it's love of life.

      It was our final night as our Internet life had carried over to real life. The next day he would say our good-byes. Then we would again begin to fade into the script of our computers. Possibly never to be seen with our real life eyes again. I do think we will always remain friends.

     If one thing above all, I hope for him to always carry part of that night with him as he moves through the rest of his life. To remember to be young at heart and to take the time in life to play. If just to slip away in the night to go swing.

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