Updated: Jan 30
Just behind Southside Elementary School there is a sweet little park. Backstops articulate where baseball diamonds are hidden under snow. The winter air whips through large metal goals that showcase the ends of the soccer fields. The main pavilion and playground look lonely without the bustle of a summertime barbecue. It is quiet. It is cold.
The sun is bright today - Thank God. I can't stand any more of these dreary gray days. Celebrating the sunshine I get out of my car and stretch while I shield my eyes to the glare of the vacant winter sun on the empty parking lot. I am the only one here.
I kick off my boots and stand in my stocking feet on the pavement because who cares. I am an adult now. I decide when I am allowed to be ridiculous. Jumping and tugging into my snow pants and securing all the flotsam and jetsam into my jacket pockets. Tissues, car keys, phone, ENORMOUS mittens. Breaching the edge of the field I feel the crunch of the hardened snow underfoot and toss the skis onto the ground a bit carelessly because sometimes I just don't want to be careful. There - I said it.
Surveying the landscape I notice the large wooden sign that displays the rules of the park: RULE NUMBER 1. "ALCOHOL AND ILLEGAL DRUGS ARE PROHIBITED". I didn't bring any booze with me and I don't plan on embarking on any illegal habits at this stage in my life so CHECK.
I certainly won't be gambling so I don't have to worry about breaking RULE NUMBER 3. I am comfortable and usually supplied with snacks so I am not ferally motivated enough to break RULE NUMBER 8 - "NO HUNTING OR TRAPPING". another day, perhaps.
my faithful skis clip on after a bit of coaxing and I make my way around the back soccer field and across to the distant backstop on the other side. I find a rhythm and focus my weary mind on the next push and glide. It is exhausting to have more than one thing to think about all the time. Just exhausting. There is something escapist in giving my monkey mind this ONE THING to do. Just the one. Move. Forward. Move. Again.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
My posture corrects as my muscles loosen and my reflexes begin to trust themselves. The heat builds under my very old, but very good jacket. I am alive and capable of movement. Both of these facts are miracles that deserve to be noticed and noted. I pause and unzip my outermost layer and rest as I lean forward on my ski poles.
Pushing off again, I think about venturing down the left-hand side of the field and into the woods below, but I am not sure of my ability to control the decent into the forest so I stay on my current course. A few glides further and I stutter step and flail on an icy patch and wholeheartedly break RULE NUMBER 4. "PROFANE LANGUAGE IS PROHIBITED". Honestly, this was to be expected, but I am still the only one here so the age old question arises: "If a woman curses alone in a park does it actually count?"
Rounding the corner I relax my pace. I am so used to rushing. Why do I live this way? WHY. I slow my motion until it becomes a lullaby of suspended somethingness. I recognize that I have begun the search for the place that feels like the center of the universe. A magnetic sort of pull. A comfortable place to relax. Succumbing to gravity and childish regression I toss myself back into the snow in spirited surrender. A heavy sigh that I did not know was waiting in the center of my being dislodges itself front my chest.
My breathe comes easier and I marvel at the great expanse and embrace of the big blue sky overhead. The sun shows up brightly for the moment. The field holds ground wide enough that the sky seems to bend into a bigger version of itself. The horizon expands into it's true and proud self. The atmosphere is unencumbered by rooftops and structures and I become unfettered from social convention. I swing my arms and legs to make a snow angel because why the hell not? I am already laying flat and totally pancaked on the ground. I don't even need to make a special trip to make a snow angel. It's destiny.
This is it - the real tragedy of adulthood is that the chance to play is not very accessible. Play for adults needs to be purposeful or organized in order to appear socially acceptable, like a sport or while taking care of children.
But we were all once children. Weren't we? We bundled up and played until we grew tired. We jumped into snowdrifts and barreled down hillsides. We lived happily in our snow forts and sat next to our neighborhood friends to watch the sun go down over the marshmallow world. We threw that final snowball with surprise and a burst of giggles as we threw our heads back and laughed into the wind.
We laughed into the wind.
So I feel the ground below me now. As steady and present as ever. I thank the sky for showing up today and smile wide with my whole face.
I am alive and capable and miracles abound.
My smile bubbles over.
And I laugh into the wind.