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A Slide of One's Own

Do you remember what it was like to climb the monkey bars? Or wiggle your way down a slide to quickly turn around and scale back up it faster than you went down? Did you hang upside down from your knees, rock back and forth and flip to end up on your feet, or at least your hands and knees?

We are in Minnesota this week at Andy's childhood home- a beautiful ranch in a quaint suburban neighborhood where one backyard weaves into another like a lush, rolling park. The neighbor's have a swing set and Caroline is learning to hold on to the big swing. She grips the ropes as tightly as she can, pushes her belly out over her knees and tips her head back to feel the wind on her face. We all take turns pushing her as she refuses to get off, unless it is kicking and screaming.

She climbs the stairs of the tree house and waits for Mommy to clumsily follow behind. She sits on my lap and we slip down the slide. Our joint weight allows us to pick up some serious speed and we feel the static shock us. One time, my skirt pulls up and the skin on my leg/hip/butt painfully scrapes as we go down oh so slowly. Caroline hops off and runs back to the stairs. I stumble upright rubbing my butt, ankles and lower back. I'm too old for this. Way too old.

I used to be a pretzel. I'd run, jump, swing and fly through the air with the greatest of ease. I was a monkey with Energizer Bunny batteries fueling my play from morning to night. The flipping and flopping didn't end on land and I delighted in our trips to the lake. "Mom! WAAATCH MEEEE!"I'd cry to my mom who would peer at me after removing the towel from her eyes,"Ohhhh....nice," she'd manage between pages of her trashy romance novel, reapplications of baby oil and cigarettes.

I like the water because it is the only place my body still feels young. I can still back flip, belly flop and do a handstand quite nicely. It's just not that often I get the opportunity. Our days at the lake this summer have been spent on the shoreline. Caroline eats dirt and I attempt to wash it out of her mouth as she grinds it between her teeth. At least we are in the sun and thankfully, unlike my dear, dear mother, I don't have a cigarette in my mouth.

When we are not at the beach, I'm thinking of getting a swing and slide at our house. A short slide. One that I can assist Caroline in sliding down without me having to. Although, maybe if I slide down enough times that extra fat on my legs/hips/butt will just rub off? Nobody said beauty wasn't painful.


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