While shopping online today for throw pillows for my new couch, I was figuratively throwing everything that even minorly struck my fancy into my Amazon cart, kind of waiting for a "unifying motif" to develop, after which I could edit the selections down to about 4. I initially had just done a search for "throw pillows red black gray" to at least narrow down the color scheme I wanted for my upcoming gray couch. I liked all sorts of things with the requisite red/black/gray: plain, stripes, geometric, elephants from India. But then a theme did emerge: umbrellas, of all unexpected-to-me things. I'll wait 'til the couch and all cushions get here and take a picture to show you exactly what I came up with. Here, though, is a pillow I was initially on the fence about. I LOVED how it looked overall. But... were the heart balloons too much? How did it fit in with the other "umbrella"-related pillows? The latter, I justified with, "OK, looks like stormy weather here; and the circular object could be considered open-umbrella-like as seen from above..." But the damn heart balloons floating around?!
Well, as it happens: On Valentine's Day this year, I was waiting for a bus across from a Dollar Store, where a group of people were trying, mainly successfully, to herd a mass of helium-filled red heart-shaped mylar balloons into the back of their SUV. One balloon, though, escaped unnoticed. (I kept waiting for one of the little kids in the bunch to express dismay, but it was a clean getaway.) The balloon initially hovered only about 12 feet above the store and parking lot, then got its wind and rose and rose and rose, eventually crossing above me and going so high up that it disappeared into the gray clouds completely.
The whole process, and progress, was interesting to me! Yes, yes, I was aware of the rather cheesy symbolism of me alone on a street corner on Valentine's Day watching the lone heart-shaped balloon making its way bravely into the ether. A bit too much, perhaps. But interesting, nonetheless. (I similarly often get a minor thrill out of seeing weeds sprouting up from cracks in city sidewalks. And I actually teared up when seeing the floating plastic bag in "American Beauty.")
OK, so this pillow was in. I ordered it.
But wait, there's MORE! :)
Later today, post-pillow-ordering, I found myself once again across the street from the same Dollar Store, this time having a cigarette while waiting to carry out my $6.99 Papa John's pizza Monday special. As I'm standing at the side of Papa John's, puffing away and staring blankly into space, I peripherally notice something low-to-the-ground turning the corner from the back of the building toward where I'm standing. It was a red heart-shaped mylar balloon with "Happy Valentine's Day" written on it. Still with helium enough to keep it barely aloft. Only inches off the ground, it passed in front of me and lodged in the legs of a wrought-iron patio seat outside of the vintage store next door. By this time I was grinning crazily: My balloon! Should I grab it and take it home as a memento of my Valentine's Day, 2015?! Within seconds, though, it had disentangled itself. Now only about 2 feet off the ground, it started to cross the heavily trafficked Burnet Road.
Great, I thought. Here's a REALLY symbolic end to my Valentine's Balloon memory---Heart-Shaped Balloon Carelessly Smushed by Car. (Shades also of my cat getting run over by a car in 1991 as I watched her trying to cross the street.) One car blows by it. Another forces it briefly onto and up its windshield. It hovers in the middle of the two lanes as numerous cars pass on either side. It doesn't stand a chance. After all, it was obviously helium-challenged to begin with a minute earlier, barely inches off the ground. Which car will be the one?
No car. Some second or third or fourth wind took hold of the balloon. It rose. Above all of the cars, past the balconies of the apartments across the street, toward the Dollar Store from whence it came, and then...off into the ether, until I again lost sight.