One more memory because three is a magic number. After this I really must get back to life now and the novel therein.
Like I wrote the other night, I believed my father when he told me that Santa’s elves were flying over our house in hot air balloons. He woke me up one warm and sunny morning, and sitting on the edge of my bed he gave me this news. Unwilling to lift my 7 year old head off the pillow I argued with this, said I didn’t believe in Santa anymore and I wasn’t getting out of bed.
But Dad has a way with stories that make me unsure what is real and what isn’t. (Like the time a few years later when he almost had me convinced I was 11 instead of 14. “Well,” he said. “Do you remember when you were born?” “Of course not.” “Then the only way you know how old you are is by what we told you. We lied. You’re actually only turning 11 today.” All day long he insisted that was true.) But by 14, I’d learned to roll my eyes. Back at 7 years old I believed anything.
I got out of bed and in my nightgown and bare feet darted outside. Hot air balloons were in the sky. Dozens of them. I ran down the cracked and pebbled drive way, across the road, through the patch of grass with the spurs that stuck to my heels, through the rest of the yard jumping over ant beds, and onto the dock. I rushed to the end of the dock (but carefully–I’d fallen off once running away when my father had convinced me he’d caught a gator instead of a catfish), scrambled onto the roof that covered dad’s boat, and there at the very edge of the platform, the lake churning below, I shouted up at the closest balloon.
A head peered over the side of the basket and a man shouted hello in return.
“Tell Santa hello, okay?” I shouted.
I couldn’t make out what the man said to that.
“Tell Santa I want the ballerina barbie for Christmas, please! And a spirograph!”
The man said something else and now he waved. I waved and shouted, “Thank you!”
I stood there and waved at every balloon I could see until I was sure I hadn’t missed one.
And I got what I wanted for Christmas that year, so at least somebody was listening.