About 30 years ago, we got a porch swing. A few years earlier, we had purchased our first house, a modest old Dutch Colonial with lots of charm hidden behind its 1960’s updates. It had a large front porch – deep enough to gather with friends or spend time in solitude, contemplating life.
The swing didn’t cost us a dime – a good thing in those early days of parenthood and home-ownership. We got the swing with coupons. My in-laws ran a corner grocery store, and the manufacturers’ coupons they collected from customers could be redeemed for merchandise. Like S&H green stamps for small businesses. I had helped to organize the coupons so I got to pick my prize.
Back then, I had this Good Housekeeping vision of a home with hard wood floors, tastefully sponge-painted walls, and neatly folded bathroom towels. Ahh. The serenity that such a house would bring. A porch swing would be the perfect finishing touch.
The swing arrived in a box, assembly required. But we were painting the outside of the house, and I was working full time and going to school at night, so it stayed in the box. Over the next 20 years, we tore apart the house and raised two boys, both of which wore me down. We rebuilt the house, room by room, but the swing never got assembled.
When we moved to our current old house 10 years ago, the box ended up in my brother-in-law’s garage loft, in “temporary storage.” Then the tiling and patching and painting started up again and the porch swing stayed put, suspended in time.
This past summer, at a book club meeting on the host’s big front porch, I grabbed the coveted spot on her porch swing. I could have spent the night there. Something about that back-and-forth swaying suits me. Being an introvert, I spend a lot of time “in my head” as the expression goes, meaning that I think a lot- about who I am, my life, and the world. I’m always trying to figure it all out.
I came home that night and said to Michael, “We’ve gotta get that swing from your brother’s garage and put it up.” With just the two of us now in the house, and fewer house projects left, there was no excuse. So we got down the box and opened it. I wondered if it would be missing any parts. What if it was infested with bugs? But all the pieces were there and the wood was pristine.
So after 30 years, our porch swing finally has a home. When I sway on it and contemplate my life and the world, not all the pieces fall into place, and the picture is far from pristine. Nothing like the glossies in a Good Housekeeping magazine. But that’s not the point. For me, the more moments and spaces I create to nurture myself – what I call being WellNested – the better I can figure out how to make the world a better place. I don’t have that answer yet, but I’ll keep swinging on it.