The song “Swing Life Away” has had many connotations in my life…it’s been one of those constants, an everlasting presence that has been there for me and reminded me of some of my most special memories. You know how when you hear a song, it can take you back and make you feel exactly how you did in that moment? Or in this case, any one of several different moments? If it can be summed up as anything, I can say that this song is the perfect love song, at least it has been for me.
I first heard it when I was sixteen years old. I was sixteen, and I was in love–not even for the first time, but for the first time, someone had said they loved me, too. The year that I met my first boyfriend, this song reminded a naive mountain girl of some beautiful times that she shared with the first person who had ever romantically said the words “I love you.” They were said after only a day, and the romance only lasted for a few months, but she didn’t care. She’d never experienced this kind of affection before. A boy, until then, had never made her feel special. “Swing Life Away” reminded her of skyscrapers, streetlights, bowls of pho, copious amounts of Mountain Dew, and random walks. They reminded her of sleeping in until noon and staying up all night, of cheesy 8-bit PC games.
The winter’s too cold, and summer’s over too soon.
Let’s pack our bags and settle down where palm trees grow.
“Palm trees? Psh…I’d rather just move to Canada.”
I drew him a picture of a girl on a swing, with butterflies and the lyrics to this song in the background of it, that he kept to this day.
Several years passed, and that girl grew up a little. She was engaged for a while to her high school sweetheart, and then not as she began to find herself. She and her parents moved to the city, and the girl began to pursue her career. She lived with another boy for 4 years, a boy who never quite turned into a man…and after their tumultuous relationship ended, she met one of the first (in her mind) “real” men she ever dated. He was charming, witty, intelligent, and a little bit crazy–and despite the inevitable ending, she loved it, and she loved him. She loved him, even though she knew in her heart that he’d likely never love her back.
One day, this man sat on my couch with my acoustic guitar in hand, and he began to play and sing it. “It’s one of my favorite songs,” he told me.
His voice rang out, husky and gruff, but also clear and on tune, and I sang along with him as he played the rhythm a little too fast. Then, “Swing Life Away” reminded me of nights spent walking and laughing through downtown Denver, of slices of Benny Blanco’s pizza, of nights where this beautiful and tormented man fell asleep on my chest, exhausted from trying to reach the top of the world, but calm and peaceful in my presence. It reminded me of mornings spent listening to him strum that guitar of mine, playing and singing a beautiful German song that I still couldn’t tell you the name of, even though he played it at least a dozen times.
That inevitable ending that I mentioned before was crushing, especially because, even though I knew it, could feel it moving in like a storm, I was reassured that things were going to be okay. Hot and cold, here and then not, he left my life as suddenly as he’d come along. After a few months of trying to regain hope that there might be someone out there who might want the kind of love I had to offer, someone who would make me believe that I wasn’t asking for too much, after all, I had almost given up completely.
And then…I met him. Out of nowhere, by a fluke, in a time in our lives where neither of us had ever expected to meet someone who could fill the particular place in our hearts that we made for each other, I met him.
And now, I have one more beautiful memory to attach to this song, of a morning not so long ago that I spent waking up next to him in his bed. His alarm clock turned on the radio, and at exactly that moment, I heard its familiar first strums. I woke up with a smile on my face, murmuring “I love this song,” in case he had the urge to try turning it off.
Then I look over at this incredibly beautiful man lying next to me. He’s laying on his side, cuddled against me as I lay on my back. I stroke my fingers through his curly all-the-colors hair, and as we’re laying there, the reality sets in of how lucky I am to exist in that moment, with that man. How did I ever end up finding my way here, to a place where I would be this happy? How was it possible? I was so happy that I felt like I wanted to cry…he asked me if I was alright.
“I’m better than alright,” I replied with a smile, burying my head into his neck. I didn’t want him to see the rawness of how he made me feel, for fear that this perfect moment would crumble around me if anyone but me knew how much I really, truly cared about him.
Now, that song reminds me of impromptu living room dances, of kisses that almost bring me to my knees, of ever-smiling blue eyes, endless laughter, and evenings spent cuddled together just talking about nothing. It reminds me of a multitude of moments ending in “Stop stealing my thoughts!” It reminds me of his beautiful face looking at me like I’m the only person on the planet as he tells me that he loves me.
Some people are never this lucky. Until recently, I thought I would be one of them, but as the days go on and I find myself loving this man more and more each day, I’m beginning to wonder if this hope will amount to something, after all. And throughout everything, I can’t think of a more perfect anthem to sum it all up with than just one song.
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours first
Let’s compare scars and I’ll tell you whose is worse.
Let’s unwrite these pages and then replace them with our own words…