The Coolest Swings EVER, an unexpected Epiphany, and Meetings in the Park 

Once or twice a year, I go to a meeting in my hometown of Medicine Bow…population: 274---two of which are my parents, who have spent 33 years there making it their home.  I never know beforehand the time of the meeting; it‘s not something I schedule-in between “Laundry” and “Take Chessie to the vet for shots”.  It’s not even anything that I know about in advance until I’m there.  I don’t take a car, plane, train, or my own two feet to get there.  I just lay my head on my pillow, and if it’s the time to go, I go.  I’ve heard it explained as astral travel or astral projection. 

It’s almost always at the same place:  The Medicine Bow Public Park.  Long neglected now, it used to be one of my favorite places to go when I was a kid.  The only park in town, it boasted 4 picnic tables, a small merry-go-round, two slides, those metal animals on springs that rocked back and forth, a bright green wooden teeter-totter, and the coolest swing set ever.

 Up until that time, the only swings in town had been at the school, and the seats on those were made out of some type of canvas that was perpetually ripping or needing to be replaced.  So you couldn’t swing very hard, or else you‘d find yourself skidding across dust, gravel, and the occasional glass chip, face first. 

But, the newer swing set at the park had rubber seats, and was about 4 feet higher than the schools.  I still remember swinging as fast and as hard as I could, anticipating the rush of “the jump”.  I think it’s safe to assume that all of us, at one time or the other, jumped out of the swing.  You would wait until the swing was as high up in the air as you could possibly get it, because the higher the swing, the longer you got to soar in the air before plummeting several feet down, where things like skinned hands or knees, or broken bones might be awaiting you as soon as you hit bottom.  But you never really cared, or dwelled on it.  Once your butt left that seat, you got to fly as free and careless as the wind blew, and the rush of it was worth those scratches and dents that sometimes happened. I think some things in life would be better if we all just “jumped out of the swing” sometimes… 

I don’t quite know if my meetings are held there because of those lingering feelings of childlike euphoria that I experienced on those rubber swings, or because there is something there, in the real park, that I just haven’t seen or felt yet…  

OMG… (Smacking forehead with palm of hand)…You know, until I just wrote that down, that particular thought had never occurred to me.  For the last 7 years, since the meetings started, I’ve always wondered “Why the park?”, and yet, not ONCE did it occur to me that perhaps, on a visit to my parents, I needed to actually go visit “ye olde” park and reconnect. Perhaps there IS something there waiting for me to experience, and it took writing this article for me to realize it.  Again, as I stated here before, writing this column has to be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.  I don’t think I can ever fully repay what writing this column has given to me personally, but Katrina and all of Eye on Soaps, you have my undying gratitude for deciding to take a chance on me. 

So, anyway, where was I…? 

Right!  The park, my fluctuating meetings…  Sometimes the park is empty, and other times, there’s a few people--some known, some not--hanging out in the background, but always, I’m there to reconnect with one particular person---I’ll call him “Ryan” (I’ve changed the names in this story for  privacy). 


Ryan was my first real love, and it was one of those “You show me your soul, and I’ll show you mine” loves.  His dad worked with my dad; we were in the same grade at school; we played “Dungeons and Dragons” together; yadda, yadda, yadda…so a friendship was always there.  He always thought of me as one of the guys, and I always thought of him as a brother of some sort.  The idea of us being romantically linked was just never there for either of us, and I’m betting that had the idea crossed our minds back then, both of us would have been totally grossed out….EWWW!!! 

Then came the day that Ryan told me he had a surprise for me in my locker.  Thinking it was some practical joke as usual, I opened my locker very cautiously, and inside was---a sword.  He had made me my very own sword in his Industrial Arts class.  It was extremely sharp, acceptably balanced (for being an IA creation, lol), the pommel was wrapped in a sort of leather binding, and he had etched a design onto the hilt.  It was at that moment, holding this incredible sword that he had made just for me, that it hit me like a ton of bricks:  somewhere between him teaching me what Hit Dice and Armor Class were and us “fake” making out in the hallway to purposely offend a few classmates, lol, I had fallen head over heels for this guy.  It was like waking up and realizing that the sky was blue, and wondering if it had always been blue, and why you hadn’t noticed before.  What can I say?  Nothin’ says lovin’ like a one-handed, double-edged weapon of death, destruction, and mayhem. 

But, I was too shy to say anything to him about it, and went on as usual.  I dated, and I never really cared about him dating, because I truly believed that, in the end, we were meant to be.  

Well, a couple years after graduation, it was finally OUR TIME.  And what a time it was…the sex was amazing.  We knew each other’s bodies as well as, if not better than, our own.  Also, Ryan and I always connected tight on a higher level; just looking at each other, we could tell how the other one was feeling, and we could, literally, finish each other’s sentences.  As I had suspected, our inner-selves just seemed to be in complete harmony. 

But about a month into it, I realized that I had overlooked one small, but important fact:  Just because we were so in-tune on some higher level didn’t necessarily mean that we were going to be so in-tune on this lower, earthbound level…and it became quickly apparent that, in the day-to-day drudgery of life, we were absolutely no good for each other---aside from the exceptional sex, lol.  

For one thing, we were much too stubborn for one another, each of us insisting “I’m right!”, and neither of us willing to concede victory to the other one.  For another thing, and most importantly of all, where we wanted to go in life was on entirely different levels: I wanted simple, carefree, and near-bohemian; he wanted technology, business, and to keep up with the Johnson’s. 

Neither of us wanted to lose each other’s friendship, so we parted ways before things got truly nasty.  But, of course, things were never the same.  After having known how great our souls were together, but knowing that we couldn’t live with one another on a down-to-earth level, it was just too hard to hang out together without getting really depressed.  So, he went his way, and I went mine. 

I met Ruben, my husband, when I was very convinced that all men were toads, and I was going to be single forever.  I was not looking to fall in love with him, but eventually, it was the little things that won me over.  I could feel some things with him, but he wasn’t an open book like Ryan had always been, and like a breath of fresh air, it was just what I needed.  He asked me to marry him, and I was very happy to accept. 

I had already put physical distance between Ryan and me, but I knew that in order to make my marriage to Ruben work, I had to do more than that.  I had to somehow “dim” that higher connection.  I didn’t want to lose it completely, because somehow, just KNOWING that it was there whenever I needed it, was a comforting thought.  So, through much effort, I learned how to put it on “the back burner” and get on with my life in the here and now.


When I heard through his sister, that Ryan was getting married, I was frazzled the entire day.  Here I was: happily married with one child, and trying for another, and yet, I was so upset that Ryan was engaged.  All day, I kept thinking to myself, “How could he do this to me?  How could he leave me like this?”…and it never really had to do with him getting married, it was more that I was afraid that if he got married, the connection would be entirely lost, and a deeper part of me just did NOT want that to happen.

I had a dream that night: our first Meeting. 

It began with me sitting down at a canopied, picnic table in the Medicine Bow Park. It was mid-day, and the park was empty.  I was watching the swings sway with the wind, remembering all my carefree days playing on them, and all of a sudden I heard someone say “Hey, stranger!”  I looked up and Ryan was in front of my table.  He sat down, and asked me what I’d been up to, that it had been a long time since we’d seen each other.   The Park faded away into light as we held hands, talked some, and sometimes we didn’t talk at all…images came and went of things we were missing from each other‘s current lives.  He then stood up and told me that he had to go, that it wasn’t fair of him to stay. He told me that he was happy, really and truly happy, with his fiancé.  Then nothing more was said with spoken words, it was like reading his thoughts.  He looked at me and I knew he didn’t want me to be sad or regretful because he was happy and at peace.  He also assured me that, no matter what, WE, our connection, would always BE, and that he would never be entirely gone from my life.  And he turned and walked away, blending into the light. 

I awoke the next morning, feeling unusually relaxed and refreshed.  About 20 minutes into the day, my memory was jogged and I remembered my dream, every detail. 

But it was about a year after that, that I had a meeting with him that convinced me that they weren‘t dreams, but some sort of “meeting” of our souls. 


I had known for some time, through my parents, that he and his wife were expecting.  At that point, I personally had not seen or talked to him in real life for about 3 years. 

Well, one night, I “dream” again of meeting the park.  This time it’s near sunset.  The park is empty, but this time, he’s there waiting for me at the picnic table.  He tells me that he just couldn’t wait to tell me, that “Abby” had the baby!  It was a girl!  I told him how happy I was for him, and hugged him.  I asked him if they’d decided on a name, and he told me “Kelsey”, which was the same name as one of my nieces (Through Rube‘s sister, Heidi), and I told him so.  Then we sat down, and he told me all about how scared he was about being a dad, and how happy he had been to hold her that first time in the hospital.  He told me that he was so incredibly happy with his girl, and that he couldn’t stay long, but had just wanted to let me know.  I gave him a hug bye, and we both left, he going one way, and I, the opposite direction. 

Three days later, I’m talking with my mom on the phone, chewing the fat, and I get ready to let her go so I can start some laundry, and she goes “Oh! I almost forgot! I ran into “Lola” (Ryan’s mom) at the post office today, and she said the Ryan and Abby had the baby, a girl.”  My heart skipped a beat, I got goosebumps, and I asked her when, and she told me “a couple nights ago I guess…She told me the name…what was it…it’s the same name as Heidi’s girl…” and I said “Kelsey”, and she replied “Yeah, that’s it!  Lola said she’s got lots of hair and …”  I don’t remember anything of what my mom said after that.  I just held onto the phone and “Oh.”-ed and “Really?“-ed meaninglessly while she went on.  All I could hear was the thumping of my pulse and me thinking to myself “OMG, it was real.” over and over…  

These were real.  Somehow, at a time both our bodies were asleep, our souls weren’t there.  They were somewhere, in some vast space that time and distance didn’t seem to touch, when he had told me the exact date, sex, and name of his first born daughter.  Even coincidence doesn’t explain that one away, and I had to accept that these weren’t dreams, but some sort of meeting of souls. 


The first meeting after my grandma died, however, was a little different than par, in that, it didn’t take place in the Park: It took place in the town my Grammy lived in, and later, her house. 

In the beginning of this visit, we were walking together, holding hands, and we were on our way to visit my grandma at her house.  I watched her house come into view from the street we were walking up; I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to introduce them.  But when we got to the house, and went inside, I couldn’t find my grandma.  And that’s when I remembered that she was dead.  Ryan just held me and told me that she was gone, but that it was okay, I wasn’t going to be alone, and not to be sad.  I told him that I couldn’t stand it, that I was mad at her for going and leaving me alone…and he went into her bedroom for a few seconds, then came out and without a word, left. 

I went into the bedroom, and from under the bedcovers, I could see something taking shape.  I got scared, looked away for a second, but then looked back.  I did this 4 times, and each time, there was more definition from under the covers.  The final time, though, the covers lifted up, and it was my Grammy---looking about 35 years younger and so happy. She told me not to be sad, and told me a story that, after she’d died, she’d went to find my grandpa, and found him talking to his brothers (who’d all passed before him).  She walked up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.  He turned around, and said “Vera!  Well, what took you so long?”   

Anyway, she and I had a good laugh about it, and then she told me that she couldn’t stay long and had to go.  I told her I missed her and wondered when she could come again, and she told me that she wouldn’t be able to visit very often, but that she would always be watching us…and that I’d better mind my P’s and Q’s, or else…lol.  Then she left, and quickly after that, Ryan came back in.  I told him about what had happened and how happy I was to know that she was no longer in pain (she suffered from intense fibrymalgia the last few years of her life), and he just held me while I babbled on, and finally said, “Did you see what you needed to see then?” and I said yes, and he said “Let’s go home then.” and we left out my Grammy’s door.  End of meeting. 


Since then, I meet with Ryan about once or twice a year.  We catch up on things with each other, and just sit there and BE.  Although we hold hands, it’s done in the capacity of friendship, it never gets romantic. 

In all fairness to my husband though, I have told him about it.  I will staunchly maintain that honesty is the best policy in keeping a marriage going, even if it gets you a couple weeks of “couchin’ it” at, lol.  And while he doesn’t like these “meetings” the least bit, and I can’t blame him, he accepts that it’s package and parcel of being with me.  As I told a friend recently, “Rube likes things that are odd and unusual…which explains why he’s with me.”  Although Ruben doesn’t like to term it that way; he merely says that I’m “exciting”…hrmph…I don’t agree with him at all.  I think odd and unusual is a lot closer to the truth, but whatever scratches his itch, I suppose. 

So, one thing I’ve learned from this column in particular, is that next time I’m in Bow visiting mom and dad, I will most definitely be making a trip to the park.  Hopefully, the ghosts I dredge up will be worth it.


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