The Playground Across the Street | Teen Ink

The Playground Across the Street

March 30, 2010
By thewriteidea DIAMOND, Pleasanton, California
thewriteidea DIAMOND, Pleasanton, California
67 articles 0 photos 336 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't cry that it's over, smile because it has happened."

There is a playground across the street from my house. It has two slides, monkey bars, swings, a sand box, and is filled with tanbark. I used to play there all the time when I was younger. I’d tippy-toe across the woodchips with my bare feet, praying I wouldn’t step on a piece the wrong way and risk hurting my small feet. It’d be chilly outside, but I wore jeans and a T-shirt, knowing I’d warm up in no time.

“I’m going across the street!” I’d call to my parents. They knew what I meant. They knew I’d be safe there.

If I went with my sister, we’d have a race to the swing set, hoping to avoid the squeaky swing. She always won because she put on shoes first. If I went alone, I’d take my time walking to that right swing. This wasn’t a competition anymore. I always tried to do new things whenever I swung on the swings. One time I tried to start the movement of the swing without giving myself a push off the ground. Another time, I tried jumping off the swing, seeing how far I could go. When I landed on my stomach, that was the end of my experiments until I was older.

The swings were always first. Then came the slides. There were two of them — one long and curved, the other shorter and straight down. After I went down, I’d shock my sister with static electricity and chase her until she squealed. I liked to go up the slide, as opposed to sliding down. I was never allowed to on the playground at school. I knew there were no rules at the playground across the street from my house. Since I never wore shoes, it was easy to go up the big slide with my bare feet. The smaller slide was harder since it was steeper and didn’t have any curves. I had to take a running start. But I always made it.

If my sister came along, we would play the game that has two race tracks, two cars, and two handles. Whoever lost would complain they had the broken handle, the one that didn’t work as well.

We’d return to my house across the street, cheeks flushed, exhausted. The heaters would be running full blast, and it would take me a while to get used to the sudden environment change.

I’d go to the park a lot when I was younger. Sometimes I’d go alone, others with my sister or a neighbor, but it was always fun. As I got older I stopped going as much. And if I did go, it was for different reasons. Maybe my friends and I wanted to take videos for Youtube or pictures for Facebook. Maybe I’d go sit on the swings to escape my parents, or sit by the slide with my friend and talk about things we didn’t want anyone else to hear.

My computer is right by the window that overlooks the playground. I always look out that window. I always reminisce on the fun I used to have, and the experiences at the park that are to come. When I write, I steal peaks over my shoulder, seeing little kids screaming at the park, hoping for an inspiration. I always get one.

I walk home from school and see kids swinging on the swings, their parents huddled by the benches, talking about work and keeping an eye on their children.

“Mommy!” I hear one girl with brown hair call. “Look how I’m flying!” She pumped her legs even higher. “Look at my legs! They’re touching the sky!”

She was swinging high at the point; I almost had a feeling that she was going to slip off. I winced as I anticipated her fall, the eruption of tears I knew so well as she collided with the tanbark. But it never happened. Instead she jumped off and ran to the steps that lead to the slide.

“Mommy,” she said, again, her voice sounding a little out of breath as she reached the top. “I’m gonna slide down the big slide this time!”

“Be careful,” I heard her mother warn.

“Catch me at the bottom, okay? Catch me at the bottom, Mommy.”

Her mom broke away from the other moms and stationed herself at the mouth of the slide.

“Are you ready, Mom? ‘Cause I’m ready!”

The little girl put her hands on the bar above her, pulled herself back, then pushed forward, and she was off. I saw her slide bumpily down the slide and land in her mother’s arms.

“You caught me, Mommy!”

Her mom laughed as she helped her daughter up. And then I heard the familiar sound of static electricity.
The mom gasped. “You shocked me!”
Giggling, the little girl said, “Let’s do it again, Mommy! Let’s do it again. Puh-leease?”
And so they did it again. And again. I watched them all of the times, remembering when life was as simple as being caught at the bottom of the slide. Or tippy-toeing across the tanbark to avoid getting poked at or scratched by the woodchips.

I remember these playground memories really well. I remember spending my time across the street alone, not needing anyone to make me happy except for the slide. I remember swinging on the swings, feeling the air in my face, feeling free like a bird, as I truly touched the sky.

What happens when I grow up? When I don’t like climbing on the monkey bars or digging sand castles? What if I stop feeling the joy of sliding down the slide?
But really, it doesn’t matter. I will always have the memory of sliding down the slide, straight into my mother’s arms. I will always remember the security, the warmth, and the satisfaction I felt after I spend my hours at the park. And for as long as I live here, it will always be the playground across the street from my house.

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This article has 10 comments.

writergrl said...
on Oct. 31 2010 at 11:43 am

hawaii4ever said...
on Oct. 31 2010 at 11:42 am

write4me said...
on Oct. 31 2010 at 11:42 am
i love the way you talk about the woodchips hurting your toes. it was a great thing to add! :-)

highfive said...
on Oct. 31 2010 at 11:41 am
i can really tell that you loved these memories. great write!

Susie Miller said...
on Oct. 9 2010 at 7:35 pm
Susie Miller, Pleasanton, California
0 articles 0 photos 33 comments
wow -- one of my favorites definitely. i love the way you describe the wood-chips in your feet.

poohbear777 said...
on Apr. 19 2010 at 9:46 am
A touching and beautifully written story.  I can picture the whole scene in my mind, and I can also feel the loss that most adults experience when they no longer "go to the playground."  Excellent!

jill456 said...
on Apr. 12 2010 at 10:46 pm
the image you described warms my heart. i can totally imagine a little girl tip-toeing across the park in order to escape the tan bark. i love the scene with the little girl and her mom. was that you? very well written.

on Apr. 12 2010 at 7:33 pm

JayMay - My favorite spot is looking out the window at the park too!  I LOVED your story...You articulated those sentiments perfectly.  I, too, miss the days when we would frequent the park...share stories...and watch you swing on those swings and slide down the slides.  Now it is a whole new generation...

We do have the memories...we do have the friendships...and we still have the park! 

Loved your story....

TechWriter said...
on Apr. 12 2010 at 7:25 pm
I could really visualize the scene. Very expressive!

PrezLover101 said...
on Apr. 11 2010 at 9:17 pm
i have these SAME memories! except the park was a street over. aww made me remember the good old times! really vivd descriptions by the way!