Playing on the swing set, swinging back and forth. Trying to get a glimpse of the newly sprouting buds on the trees. I was five, it was the late 90’s and this is what I believed: My place was on the swing. Going high was all that mattered. I didn’t care if the swing set dangerously rocked; as long as I could see the buds on the trees I was happy.
We got rid of the swing set when I was eight. I wasn’t upset. I no longer believed my place was on the swings. I understood the wood was rotting and the way it shook wasn’t safe. Instead, I believed my place was with my friends, and on the beach, mostly just doing whatever interested me, which more or less involved things I thought were more grown up than the childish swing set. I still, however, looked for the buds on the trees in spring.
I was nine, and got in constant fights with my sister, Caroline. I wondered outside and found a small piece of the old swing set, just big enough so it would fit into my little fist. It was after a particularly bad fight when I grabbed Caroline’s toothbrush and scrubbed it, hard, on the small piece of wood. A couple days later she got very sick and had to stay in bed for a while. Back then I believed in revenge, even if it meant endangering my sister. Caroline didn’t get to see the buds sprout on the trees that year.
My grandpa was the one who bought the swing set for me. When I was ten, he got Alzheimer’s. That same year my grandma died of a stroke. Even though they didn’t know it back then, I believed in my grandparents, and all that they can do for me, even if it’s something simple like buying a swing set. All I could do in return was believe in them. That year I spent most of April in Ohio for my grandma’s funeral. The buds sprouted early that year.
I’m fourteen now. The swing set is long gone and replaced with a trampoline. My beliefs from when I was five have come and gone. I no longer intentionally make Caroline sick, or even care for that old swing set. Many of my beliefs have passed through me as easily as air, changing as the seasons go on. They will continue to do this, as I grow older. But one belief still remains; I believe in always looking for the buds on the trees in spring.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.