Metro, Column

Giving in to Childhood Nostalgia at Seaport Common Seesaws

In second grade, the seesaw became the setting for the ultimate test of friendship. The first few minutes of recess spent on the tottering play structure would pass smoothly, as trust between my companion and I mounted with each reversal of the metallic arm. It wouldn’t take long, however, for the other participant to grow weary of the admittedly monotonous activity. It was always in this precise moment of decision to end the game that a mischievous smirk would creep across the traitor’s face, foreshadowing the imminent betrayal.

On the receiving end of the smug grin, I felt my stomach drop as I futilely attempted to propel myself to a lower altitude before my so-called friend could abandon her perch on the grounded seat, effectively sending my helpless body crashing to the wood chips below me. She would cackle with glee while watching me scream the entire eight feet down. After taking a moment to check for potentially life-threatening injuries, I would vow to be the first to desert the seesaw next time.

No matter how many times I was betrayed in such a manner, the seesaw remained one of my favorite games and the traitors some of my closest friends. But as the years wore on, I began to frequent the seesaw less and less in favor of what I deemed more mature recess activities, like foursquare and hot lava monster.

As a result, when my roommate and I stumbled upon a series of seesaws in the middle of Seaport Common the other day, a sudden pang of nostalgia drew me to them. These seesaws were far more sophisticated than the rusty variety on the playground of my elementary school. The rocking planks of all different sizes were illuminated and played melodies of sound as we bounced up and down.

At first I felt strange sitting on a seesaw in the middle of Boston on a random Thursday afternoon, but as the initial timidness wore off, I found myself laughing and playing with my roommate in much the same way as I did 10 years ago. Once again, friendships were put to the test as we attempted to send each other flying out of our seats every time we hit the ground.  

The Seaport seesaws, called Impulse, are part of a traveling public art installation that has been featured in cities across the globe. According to the Seaport website, the urban playground of sound and LED light is designed to boost mood and increase health during the winter months.

Looking at the people on the seesaws around me, I was surprised to see many adults among the crowd Impulse had drawn. Even more unexpected was the fact that they seemed to be having just as much fun on the seesaws as the children.

While I won’t pretend to be an expert on the psychological effects of LED lights and sound sequences, I will affirm that what I noticed in myself and those around me was a lighthearted playfulness unusual among stressed adults.

I only stayed at Impulse for about 15 minutes, but left with heightened spirits and a reminder that despite rapidly approaching adulthood, there will always be a place for seesaws in my life.

Featured Image by Chloe McAllaster / Heights Editor

April 8, 2018