It had started the night before, when a friend asked me to stop by where he was, and so I did. He was visiting his inlaws, and through a twist of fate I ended up driving him home Saturday night which of course meant I would take him back on Sunday to celebrate his 12th wedding anniversary and his nephew’s 9th birthday. I would try to escape early, I decided, so I could get some writing done.
Of course, it wasn’t a straight path back on Sunday morning. There was the need to pick up balloons, beer, and associated paraphernalia, and a desperate and unfruitful search for ribbon.
I have never looked for ribbon in my life, but I know what it looks like and know we didn’t find any.
Along the way, the food was talked up quite a bit, as well as all the good things about the family members. We arrived, and I found myself employed with a Coleman blower, probably for an air mattress, that I held to allow for the inflation of balloons, dutifully holding one as the second of matching color was blown up in what seemed like a never ending stream of balloons. The seemingly unending supply of balloons was important to my friend. He wanted this to happen, so despite my inner protestations of temporarily filling rubber with air, I did it because it was important to him. He was quite the taskmaster on this, insisting later not to point the blower this way or that for fear of causing balloons to rub against walls and explode.
In my mind, they do that anyway, but this was important to him so I went along with it. It didn’t hurt me to avoid the potential cataclysms he saw in the carnage of exploding balloons. My experience taught me that they had a tendency to do so regardless of how much care goes into them. It wasn’t as if I were wielding pins and needles. Balloons are unpredictable.
He was quite micromanagerial about this, speaking more to his need to have the balloons last than in having them last. I’ve seen balloons made. It’s about as precise as you can get, but when the whole point is to blow up a piece of rubber so that you can see through it, it seems to me that all bets are off. People like balloons, they buy balloons, they blow them up, they balloons either leak slowly or disappear violently, transformed into hurtling fragments of rubber.
Balloons are suspended violence. If they were human, I would consider them passive aggressive and volatile.
This, then, called for refreshment, because filling balloons with a blower is hot work. We organized the area, sitting around and relaxing as time ground to a halt. I spoke to the dog, a Husky, and he spoke back. I don’t know what we were talking about, but he certainly did love the subject. He came untethered at one point and had his owner wandering around after him with a food bowl. At 1.5 years old, he was still very much a puppy, intelligent, and looking for fun in what his family considered ‘all the wrong places’.
I wasn’t writing. This ground on me throughout the day, but I pushed it from my mind and just lived the experience. At 3 p.m. or so, the food showed up and it was great – some curried alloo, chicken with a side of roti. There was curried crab, but my body decided at the age of 47 that shellfish were no longer a part of it’s menu.
All day, not much happened, but I was in my own way, listening, the interactions of arguments between people probably the highlight. I generally found myself agreeing with others rather than my friend, but I sat it out mostly. Underneath, the tensions seemed high, while there was a comfort between people that allowed them to exist. An odd but predictable balance. This is how they communicated. They were comfortable with it.
Time went by and the need for me to get back to writing was getting stronger. There are things I want to get out of my head and into little pixels. I had told my friend that morning when we left that I would not be hanging around long, and yet I had spent 6 hours already, and while people were beginning to show up from wherever they were freshly showered and dressed, I felt sticky and tired.
Finally, excusing myself after another friend showed up, I headed home, showered, and fell asleep only to wake up early this morning. I had written nothing yesterday, and this bothers me, but I have no regret of the time spent yesterday with friends and newer friends.
Writing about life without experiencing it is senseless, and what is writing anything but writing about life, be it fictional or otherwise? This sounds like an excuse, and maybe it is, but I know too how much I yearned for the solitude of my mind at points yesterday and I know, gentle reader, that it’s not an excuse.