Today there was nothing to do. The leaves were falling, the sun was shining, and the crisp air was perfect for being in. Even so, there was only so much you could do in your yard despite the fact the weather was beautiful. This was the case for two of my younger brothers and I, and we began complaining loudly and were about to head inside when my mother told us to get in the car. We were confused, but listened to her. Several curious minutes later, we arrived at someplace familiar - our old stopping ground: the park.
"Mom, we're way to old to be here," I grumbled while observing the elementary-age children and toddlers waddling around the play sets.
"Yeah, Mom," my fourteen-year-old brother added. "Let's just go home."
My mother looked back at the three of us and shook her head. "No, I'm tired of hearing you guys complain about this beautiful day! I'm making you guys stay out here for fifteen minutes - that's it. That's all it will take for you to realize how much you miss this place."
I exchanged doubtful looks with my brothers as we exited the car and walked up to the playground. There was no doubt this place hadn't changed at all, and I knew exactly what to do first. I crunched over the mixture of leaves and mulch that lead the way to my favorite place in the park, the tire swing.
I set my purse on the ground and crouched awkwardly in the swing I had long outgrown. My legs were up to my chest, but the view was just as I remembered. I stared at the fall paradise out ahead of me and called my brothers over.
"Gimme a push like old times?" I asked with a short laugh.
The two of them, both unsurprisingly stronger than years ago, grabbed the sides of the swing and gave me a huge push. Just like that I was flying in the air, the happy scene of my brothers' smiling faces and the golden leaves blurring together.
After taking turns on the tire swing, I checked my phone; it had already been fifteen minutes!
"Want to go back?" I asked my twelve-year-old brother who had just fallen to the floor laughing from the dizziness the swing had caused him.
"Naw- I wanted to slide first," he replied while he and my other brother headed towards the huge wooden play sets.
I looked back at my mom's car and noticed that she was not in it any longer, but was instead observing us with a smile at one of the picnic benches. There was a gleam in her eye I had not seen for a while - it was the look a mother gets as her toddler does something cute or her kindergartener brings home a school-made Christmas present for the first time.
"Hey, Marissa!" my brother called out from on top of a tall tower. "Want to do an obstacle course?"
At first, it didn't sound like very much fun, but his eager face was enough to convince me. I watched as he explained the course, and then let him use my phone to set up a stopwatch. Since I was the oldest, I had to go first, and was off racing up the play sets and sliding down the equipment in no time.
There was something exciting about feeling the wind through my hair as I sprinted across the familiar playground, and it didn't matter to me that I was a good ten years older than the majority of people at this park; this place was my stopping ground now just as much as it was theirs.
By the time two hours had passed, my mother called us over to her. The sun was setting, and it was time to go home with the rest of our family.
"Can we come back again next week?" My brother asked while wiping sweat off his forehead and smiling.
My mother grinned back. "We'll see about that."
And with that, we set off away from the playground we had overlooked for so many years. Why? I do not know; but sometimes it doesn't matter how old you are - when you're with the ones you love, something as insignificant as age has no place in determining how much fun you can have at something as simple as the playground.