A time travel machine. It might sound futuristic, something science fiction writers spend pages and pages imagining. In fact, I have seen one. I will try to describe it for you, in case you have seen one too. It is usually a metal endoskeleton bolted to the floor, two iron chains hanging from it, their ends linked with a flat surface, which is far enough from the ground to let the traveler sit on it.
The swing is my travel machine. I see it in every country I visit, it is like the sky, the sun, the dust. It’s just there.
Ariha, May 2011
The first swing I rode was in Ariha. It was a عبارة عن حبل, how do you say, a piece of rope, hung from the ceiling of our balcony with a seatعبارة عن مخدة فائضة عن الحاجة. It could only fit one traveler. Shatha and I used to take turns pushing each other. On the way up, I would stare into the sky, feel the birds, and coming down, fields of green flood my eyes, miles of it. I reach for Shatha’s hands again, “push harder please.”
Kayseri, February 2014
I don’t know how I ended up with the swing on the right.
On Eskisaray street sits my second time-travel machine. We live in a basement below ground, seven of us sharing two bedrooms, no balcony for a swing. On the way home from school, I grab Shatha’s hand, and run up the hill to the swing, in the shade of a tree. I close my eyes and swing. Up and down, up and down. I see olive groves, I see an endless green, I see the sun. Through the wool of my gloves, I feel the loneliness of the chain. I think of the people who built this machine. Why did they choose a hill? Perhaps they wanted riders to have a sense of adventure.
Kayseri, February 2017
It has always been Shatha and I. It has always been two swings, one frame. I don’t know how she ended up with the swing on the left, but she did. Today she moved to Istanbul. She got married. I send her a message on Whatsapp, مرحبا. We had never messaged each other before this.
Kitchener, February 2018
A house with two stories above ground. Four bedrooms, for the six of us. Alone, I go to Victoria Park. I pick a swing at random. I go up and down, up and down. I close my eyes. I see the snow of Kayseri. I open my eyes. I look to my left. I do not see Shatha.