Once upon a time, when I was in high school, I was employed as a balloon artist. It was the most lucrative of my three jobs (I also taught piano lessons and cleaned and ironed for a lady in my neighborhood) and certainly the most entertaining.
Back then I was super outgoing and loved the social aspect of the balloon job. I really enjoyed talking to families at tables as they waited for their food to arrive. I loved interacting with the kids, and especially seeing their reactions to the simple balloon creations I would make. When the kids were happy, the parents were happy, and that usually translated into a nice tip for my work. That was good, since I didn't have a base pay from the restaurant; I worked only for tips. Making balloon animals and hats in restaurants on the weekends paid for nearly all of my first year at BYU, and this was my job during college breaks, too.
Since my high school and college days I have occasionally moonlighted with my silly balloon skills. I've worked a few birthday parties and school fundraisers and a parade or two. Just recently I was thinking that my balloon stash is probably too old and brittle to use and I ought to throw it out. But even a compulsive purger like me has a hard time letting go of that piece of history.
Tonight my history came full circle when our family was eating at a local pizza joint for Zach's end-of-season soccer party. Just we all sat down with full plates from the buffet, a teenage girl approached with an apron full of balloons, her pump at the ready. The negative-first-reaction part of my personality jumped out and thought, "Ugh, do I have to pay someone to add chaos to my table?" But pretty soon the teenage Me took over with a speech about all those ornery people who refused to get balloons when I was just trying to make a living back in the day. Pretty soon I motioned to the balloon girl and asked her to make swords for all my kids. When the kids were happily batting each other in the face with balloons, Garry reached out with a five dollar bill. The girl was probably born when I was in high school, but I smiled at what we had in common tonight. I just hope she puts that five dollars in her college fund.
*Kate took a bottle of my milk for the first time
*Our front yard tree turned a stunning gold