Balloons and I, we want to get along. They wish to please me. I admire and respect their uplifting potential. Alas, 'tis a star-crossed relationship. In spite of our best intentions, things always go awry.
Long ago, I decided that my man needed a huge buoyant symbol of my love. What to do, what to do? Ah! Fill his car with balloons while he was at work. I would write little things I loved about him on slips of paper. "Musical genius." "Amazing singing voice." "A melt-me reading voice." "Great with kids." "Comfy hugger." "A fine enchilada maker." Stuff 'em in balloons. And fill his car! He'd love it!
Let me tell you. I don't care how much you love someone, finding 100 ways to say "You're cool! Glad I married you. Let's smooch!" is a creative challenge. "You leave fantastic outgoing messages on the machine." "You are so gifted at Jenga." "No one reaches high places quite like you." "Wow! Can you open jars or what?!?"
So after much effort, I got the little love notes done, stuffed into balloons and began inflating the eighty-some-odd balloons the old-fashioned way: I huffed, and I puffed, and I puffed, and I huffed. Then I bagged them all up and drove to my man's parking garage while he was still working, my car filled to the brim with loving balloons. It was so fun emptying bag after bag into his little sub-compact.
OH NO! I was out of balloons and the car was nowhere near completely filled. The loving gesture wouldn't work if the car wasn't completely full! He had to pop his way in so he could see how much I admired his ability to carry out the trash with athletic grace and poise. Scrambling around, I managed to come up with some leftover balloons.
But OH NO! I had no paper, no pencils, and to be frank I was plumb out of ways to say, "Hey Baby, you light my fire!" Besides he was getting off work really soon and I needed to skedaddle. Oh well, this batch would have to be love note-free.
I puffed and I huffed and I huffed and I puffed. Thirty more balloons! Whew. In they went. On his car door, I taped a pin on a copy of Browning's "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." It was SO CUTE! I knew I'd score eternal brownie points for this one.
OK...let's stop. What happens next? Jewelry, right? Special snuggles? NO WAY. The experience involved balloons. It was doomed from the start.
My man came home a bit perplexed. Apparently, being forced to pop a hundred balloons after a hard day at work didn't strike him as romantic.
"The little love notes were sweet though...right?"
"I guess, but what was with the empty balloons? It was like you ran out of stuff to say."
And so it has gone. Balloons have burst, gotten caught in trees, flown away, caused fights, caused tears. Balloons were shiny sorrows on strings. I swore them off forever.
Then I was struck with Stephanie Nielson's story and the whole balloon release for NieNie. Surely for something so beautiful, surely, it would all turn out well.
E and I bought our balloons last Tuesday. As always, the sight of the balloons gladdened my heart. Eight red balloons, gloriously glistening, bouncy and new! Watching the baby's delight as she bobbed them up and down—pure joy!
The homeschooled kids were curious. My man was curious. Balloons? Mom never gets balloons! Who were they for?
"You'll see," I'd answered mysteriously. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I had the markers ready. After the school kids got home, we'd each get a balloon, choose a wish and a goal to work on, write wishes and commitments on the ruby surfaces, then we'd release them heavenward. We would remember it for the rest of their lives.
OK...let's stop. What happens next? A sweet bonding moment for the family? Treats? A big group hug? NO WAY! The experience involved balloons. It was doomed from the start.
When L and V got home from school, they noticed the balloons in my bedroom right away and immediately began fighting about them. L grabbed the bunch and ran out the front door. V ran screaming after.
"Do not take them outside!" I warned. By the time I got to the door, L had released them to the tune of V's sobs.
I sighed as I watched them shimmer away. I should have known. Doomed.