For Illustration Friday. This week's topic: "Balloon."
I posted about my obsessions with red balloons nearly ten years ago, so figured it's okay for me to re-post the story of how I became penpals with a boy named Frank Mrowka for a while.
I met Frank (sort of) years ago when I lived on St. Patrick Street in Village By The Grange in the late 80’s. One of my Favourite Things are helium red balloons; it used to be one of my secret vices, probably stemming from a favourite childhood story called THE RED BALLOON (also made into a French film, I think). Anyway, one day I was feeling down, so went out and bought myself a red helium balloon to cheer myself up. My usual ritual was to go somewhere quiet, out in the open, and let it go. In my mind, I would also “let go” of whatever was stressing me out or getting me down that day. Sounds silly, but it usually worked for me.
Anyway, on this particular day, I decided on whim to tie a note to my balloon. I drew a little cartoon sketch of myself and included my name and address (yeah, I know, I was a bit nuts back then) and sent it off. This was from the middle of the street in downtown Toronto, and the sky was very clear that day. A few weeks later, I got a letter from a young boy (7 or 8, I think) in Lockport, New York. Turns out his father had found the balloon in a tree in their fruit orchard! Frank and I corresponded steadily for years. Last I heard, he was around 14 and on the high school basketball team. That was a couple years ago, but I still feel compelled to send him a Christmas card once a year, just for old time’s sake.
I don’t do the red balloon thing anymore. I don’t like the idea of my dying balloons landing who-knows-where, and also now prefer to confront problems and stresses directly rather than “wishing them away”. But every so often, I’ll pass a party shop or a summer street vendor with a huge handful of balloons, and feel a twinge of nostalgia. :-)