Sunday, March 07, 2010

Yellow Balloon

A retirement party at the Department of Labor typically includes a nice lunch, a framed DOL seal, a lovely parting gift and a balloon bouquet. Oddly enough, a number of retirees don't want to take 20 or so balloons home with them to commemorate their years of service, and so periodically a large bunch of balloon will appear outside the door of DOL's daycare, making some lucky tykes' day.

So it was on December 10th when I went to pick up Owen from a long day of school. I grabbed a balloon on my way in, only to have it liberated by 10 three year olds once I arrived at Owen's classroom. We grabbed another one on the way out.

A week and a half later, we were impressed that the balloon was still fully aloft as we left for Christmas in Iowa. We were amazed that it was still so when we returned. Weeks past and then months but this balloon continued to defy expectations regarding the shelf-life of helium and the laws of gravity. We wondered if the balloon had made some sort of pact with a higher being -- a kind of Portrait of Dorian Gray for the latex population.

But then 2 1/2 weeks ago, it began sinking. At first it hovered a few inches from the ceiling, but last week it reached Owen height. Allen responded by trimming its string, because as he stated so passionately, "That's what you're supposed to do" (there are apparently rules about maintaining neutral buoyancy of dying balloons).

It rebounded, coming to life in its extended period of neutral buoyancy, riding the air currents throughout the house, and turning up in the least expected places. But today Allen had to remove the last bit of its tether in order for it to stay afloat. This might have been a mistake, for now that the snows have mostly melted and the weather is feeling more like Spring here in our nations capital, we left the door open when we arrived home from our grocery store/ice skating outing. Owen was helping bring in the groceries, and our magical balloon, excited by the new air currents provided by the open door, glided out into the great wide open.

Allen made a valiant attempt to save it, sprinting out the door and leaping after the balloon, but it just alluded his outstretched hands, clearly it was not meant for this world. We suspect it's now over the rainbow (having heard so much about it from Owen) and while we're sad to see it go, we couldn't imagine a better ending for it.

Goodbye Yellow Balloon


Joe said...

what a fitting departure!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I see a wonderful children's book from this. Owen may have his own book signings in the near future. Grandma

Anonymous said...

Great story, and I agree with Grandma that it has all the makings of a wonderful children's book.
On a completely separate note, I find it hilarious that the photos that appear on your blog page make it appear as though Allen is wearing a gigantic silver dunce hut. Totally the laugh I needed on a pretty grim work day.

Marlo Brown said...

Most definitely a children's book- seriously