Saturday, October 24, 2009

Balloon Synchronicity

Looking back, I suppose I was a strange, nerdy teenager. One lonely summer, I took some of my photographs, wrote some of my poetry on the backsides, affixed the photos to the strings of helium balloons, and launched them into the sky. I wondered if they would ever be found.

On our first date, I bought a helium balloon, and Flo and I wrote something on a card and sent it up. It became a small hobby, an occasional indulgence for us to fly off a balloon with a note, a photograph or even a postcard attached. Once, a balloon made it all the way to the East side of the city, and drifted down onto some fellow' s driveway; he was kind enough to return the card with a comment.

One spring day, at the Broad Ripple Art Fair, we bought a helium balloon along with some other treasures, and returned home. Normally a small helium balloon would not last the night, drifting down to the floor before sunup. This time, the balloon was still pressed firmly against the ceiling when we rose the next day, so we took it with us to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and launched it from the grounds with a self-addressed postcard attached. I certainly did not expect it to go far, thinking it had at best an hour or two of flight left.

The summer passed by quickly, and we did not expect the postcard to return. One day though, the card arrived at our P.O. Box, with a short note and several thumbtack holes to suggest it had been on display for a while. The card was postmarked at Point Pleasant, West Virginia. It had drifted down at the Ohio and West Virginia border, and crossed over to West Virginia after it was mailed. Of all the places it could have ended up, it was a bit odd to me that it had traversed the replacement for the Silver Bridge, at the very site where The Mothman Prophecies took place.

Over the years, we occasionally sent balloons aloft with postcards or notes, and our son enjoyed joining in on our hobbies and adventures. One day, while we all were headed to the grocery store, I noticed something drifting down from the sky toward the parking lot. A small helium balloon with a postcard attached floated down to a height I could reach up and snatch it. The activities director of an Illinois Senior Center had provided balloons and postcards for the residents as entertainment one day. I returned the postcard with a note, and the message I sent was eventually published in an article in a local newspaper serving the area of the Senior Center.

What are the odds?

It's been years now, since we last floated off a message attached to a helium balloon, but I'm sure that someday we will do it again.

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