January 6, 2009
It was this three year-olds’s first taste of freedom. I can only imagine what it must be like to drive a car, but I know it must feel like the first time I flew.

It was a quaint little park nestled in a circle of trees. It offered everything: a pond, a volleyball court, and the best thing of all -- a playground. I remember my dad and I would walk over to the park almost every day. We would gobble breakfast together and then hand in hand, I would drag him to the playground. My soft chubby little hand would be engulfed in his tough huge one the whole way there. On that superb day there were quite a lot of children in the park. There were kids sliding down the slides like slippery seal pups. Toddlers were concentrating so hard on building sandcastles you would think they were building real castles. And the weather was perfect: flowers fresh in bloom, the dew just drying up, and kids in t-shirts and jeans. It was the first day of spring and finally the kids could shed their jackets.

The mini paradise is named, appropriately enough, The Dream Park, fashioned to resemble a child-sized castle. When I was there I was the princess. Yet, in all my visits to the park I never, ever got a chance at It, the huge tire swing. It was scary. It was high up in the sky, and It was guarded by the big-kid dragons, never letting us wee ones on. But one day the dragons were gone. “Finally, the chance is mine!” I yelled. I started the slow climb up to the rubber top. After what felt like a few days I made it to the top. I gathered my courage, braced my hands on the old chains, and plopped down.

The movement started off slow, but the pace soon quickened. Then it became even more fun. I started to spin. I remember it like it was yesterday: soaring, gliding, spinning above the ground miles, two or three miles above the ground. I was exhilarated. There was no possible force that could have stopped me. Simply amazing.

“ Higher, Daddy! Push my higher on the tire swing!” He cackled and gave me a huge push.

“Aeeeeeeeeeee!” I screamed with delight. “Again, Dada. Again,” I hollered above the whooshing noise.

“You sure you want me to push you again?” He had an evil look in his eye, and I knew it was going to be a huge push. I gulped; blood was rushing to my face. I started to question why I had come up there in the first place. You could die, one part of me whispered. Nah, it will be fun, the other part persuaded. I decided to go for it. So I closed my eyes and nodded.

It was the scariest and most dangerous thing I had ever done in three years of life. I was gripping those cold, rusty chains so hard my knuckles were white. If I even slightly loosened my grip, I wouldn’t be writing this story today. I was numb with fear, yet I was having the time of my life. I had never felt anything so death defying, crazy, awesome or as sweet as those moments. Mere minutes transpired, yet it was as if someone hit the pause button on my life. I was the only person alive. I could hear a dog barking, see a flower blooming, smell fear, and taste freedom as the swing traced its arc in the sky.

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