the nonsensical musings of a clueless twenty something

The Burning House and the Red Balloon


I’d like to preface this gem by letting everyone know that I am currently sitting on the patio of Starbucks tapping out this lovely. I’m feeling about 32 shades of hipster and a tad bit jittery (anxiety-inducing amounts of caffeine consumed this afternoon (dumb)).

Work has been an unbearable amount of busy this past week and so this sweet little blog has been simmering on low heat for about 9 days.

I apologize in advance for the likely roller coaster of emotion we’re about to embark on. Understand, though, that it’s mostly due to hormones, sleep deprivation, and a week of unintentional binge drinking (patios and sangria…it’s practically coercion).

Anyway. Off we go.

I bartend in a sweet little city neighborhood of St. Louis on the weekends. It’s full of trendy spots where young professionals wear trendy clothes and sip libations while paying trendy members of the opposite sex compliments. The blanket murmur of conversation and the tinking of glassware in this city space is something I’ve grown particularly fond of on recent summer evenings.

I particularly love the blocks I travel in order to reach my place of employment on those nights. I walk through neighborhoods of beautifully landscaped yards and laughing children and big wrap around porches. There’s vines and cracked sidewalks and old brick chimneys. It’s like a different world where Pixar and Disney hang out while writing things that are of the happy sort. When I grow up (begrudgingly), this is where I want the rest of my growing to take place; in between the ivy and automatic sprinkler systems.

There’s one house among the other houses that I love the most. I don’t know the people who live there, and I don’t know their children…but I know their hearts and minds are made of the same creative trinkets that compile me.

On one afternoon, I walked by to find a fairly artistic lemonade stand. Fancy glass bottles full of lemon slices, a handmade sign scrawled on poster board…think Pinterest meets Pottery Barn Kids. The kid’s excitement to be participating in this act of entrepreneurship was a contagious thing. I walked my remaining blocks with a giant smile plastered on my face (and a cup of lemonade in my hand (of course)).

Again, I don’t know these children. But I love these children…and I love their whimsical parents for their patience and creative fortitude.

On another afternoon these miniature humans were running wild with bottles and bottles of bubbles. The entire front yard looked like the frothy topping of an over-sudded bathtub. Their laughter at the resulting formation of momentary, iridescent spheres made my heart light. Because, really, how long has it been since something so simple made you that happy?

This past week, though, was my favorite.

I could see them bobbing among the treetops before my feet reached the stop sign at the edge of the block. Big, red balloons. Tons of them. Held in sticky hands and anchored to the earth by frenetic feet.

It was the most ridiculously wonderful thing I’ve seen in a very long time.

I had just reached the edge of their yard when the energetic inattention of their smallest caused a slip and a stumble.

Down he went.

As expected, he threw out his hands to break his fall.

And, well, when your hands are catching you, they aren’t hanging on to what was inside of them.

The big red balloons did what big red balloons do (if full of helium).

They went up.

For a very small moment, nothing happened.

And then…

Screaming. Wailing. Sobbing. Huge tears and crumpled features and choked hysteria.

Everyone stopped.

I stopped.

His parents stopped.

Everyone in the street stopped.

We all just stood there as the cluster of balloons moved steadily upward.

Within reach at first.

And then higher…

and higher…

and higher.

It felt like I stood there for 10 minutes while this child wailed and the balloons disappeared and the world halted.

But then, just as quickly, we all started moving again.

The parents moved to soothe their child, I put one foot in front of the other and moved toward work, and everyone in the streets scattered back to their business.

I, however, haven’t stopped thinking about this random little boy or his red balloons.

Or his reaction in losing them.

And so, of course, here I am. Casting life lessons on the back of happenstance circumstance (poetical).

And there you are. Being subjected to it (you’re welcome).

I’ve written about recent circumstances having to do with my heart and its brokenness. Know now that I’ve made many attempts at sparing you all (and myself) from getting too emotional over this topic.

Because, really, who wants to publicly admit being affected by another person?

Ideally, you always want to come out of these things shiny and golden.

Never the one to drunkenly text or dial, never the one to apologize, or plead, or cry.

Never the one to write blogs about your bruised up heart.

You want to be the one continuing to socialize, continuing to succeed in your career, continuing to balance, continuing to continue.

Never overly emotional, never angry or mean, never too sad or too much of anything, really.

You always want to be the one that’s better at the heartbreaking or the heartaching and the moving on, and up, and past.

Being seemingly unaffected is exhausting, though.

And there are days I fail miserably at it.

I think back a few weeks ago when we opted to have the casual post-breakup conversation (you know the one (where you casually try to mind-ninja blame and fault onto the other person)) and he looked at me and told me that the difference between him and I is that if the house was burning, I would look around at all of the memories and the things we’ve accumulated, and I would go down with the house trying to save them. And him, he would shuffle us toward the nearest exit.

And while sitting at that table nursing my beer I looked across at him and I said…you’re absolutely right. I would go down with the house.

And in that moment I saw this declaration as a negative thing.

Shame on me for wanting to save the house.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that, no. It’s not a negative thing. It’s the only thing.

Isn’t that what you want when you love? Someone who would fight for what you’ve built? Someone who is willing to get a little warm and uncomfortable and scared if it means salvaging the walls you painted and the shelves you hung and the things you collected to sit atop them?

There are days when life is a dry-rotted wood cottage sitting in the dead center of a field during August heat. There are days when you leave the stove top burner on (or the curling iron (or the regular iron)). There are gas leaks and little pyromaniac children and there are times when huge bolts of lightning strike.

But regardless of how the fire starts, your willingness to put it out and make the repairs is what says something about you as a person.

I hate that I’m writing about this. I hate that I revisit the site of the fire daily and that I let it be something that takes up space in my heart.

Yes. I’m sad. Yes. This sucks.

Yes, I am affected. I feel things. Like a human.

And, well, some days I’m just not emotionally graceful.

There are times when I’m that wailing child; arms outstretched, cheeks tight with tears, completely unsure of how to get up and dust myself off.

There are days when the people in the streets stop and puzzle at my reaction to losing something so seemingly inconsequential.

And then there are those days that show up on a giant gust of wind and I’m the red balloon. Moving up and out of reach, back pressed against the blue sky, and so unbelievably soft and transparent that the sunlight shines straight through.

And then there are most days.

Where I’m just the girl on the sidewalk, watching and silently remarking on the things I encounter on my way to work, or driving home from Michigan, or moving down the shady sidewalks near my house.

Sticking them all right here for you to see.

And then wondering if I should really be hitting the publish button.

Whatever. I’m doing it.

If you haven’t seen the below, do yourself a favor and do so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdJ6aUB2K4g&sns=em

And then watch this. Because I can’t stop (In the words of Gavin, it’s not about my ex).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PkECn8AnKk

Love you all (but not in a way that would endanger my life or anything (but close)).

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This entry was published on June 26, 2012 at 7:43 pm. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “The Burning House and the Red Balloon

  1. Love your writing. Love it. This was such a heartfelt post; yet, you make heartbreak beautiful to read about.

    • You are so unbelievably sweet for saying so. Knowing that people feel this way about my words makes everything else just a little bit better. Thank you very much for stopping in!

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