Monday, May 31, 2010

31. Blue Balloon

Last day of May today, a wild and rain-drenched day, and we were at the doctor’s again. She said, ‘You’re becoming my most loyal patients,’ and she said, ‘You don’t do rain by halves in this country, do you?’ and she joked, ‘See you again next week!’ She looked in Charlie’s ears and said, ‘Best I’ve ever seen them.’ Charlie and I both smiled.

On the way home, there was a sunbreak in the rain and when we turned a corner, a bright rainbow, and I thought, well, that’s almost too much – maybe I shouldn’t mention that rainbow on my blog - it’s just too much. But there it was. Then we passed a construction site and Charlie said, ‘Look! There’s a digger! Did you see it?’ and I said, ‘Well, no, I missed it, but I’ve seen diggers before.’ Surprisingly, he accepted that, and we drove on.

*

A few weeks back, we drove home from a party through the rain with a blue balloon.
The balloon pressed its head against the ceiling, then it leaned sideways so all I could see in the rear view mirror was blue.
Outside the car at home, Charlie reached for the balloon.
‘I’ll bring it inside,’ I said.
‘Give me the balloon,’ he said.
‘No, no.’ I was holding it tight. ‘I’ll carry it inside for you – or tie it to your wrist’, and he breathed in, calmly, ‘Just give it to me.’
We were standing on the footpath in the rain beside the open car door. I started talking. I said, ‘If you let go, this balloon will fly away,’ and he said, ‘Give it to me.’
I said: ‘Do you want—are you sure— ? If it slips out of your fingers, even for a second, it will go into the sky, and it will keep on going up, and you will never ever ever get it back. Do you understand?’

He reached out his hand. Bright blue balloon between us like a maypole, waiting to see what we would do.

I was thinking: he will lose it and he’ll cry, and he won’t understand that I can’t get it back for him. Like those sticks he used to collect in parks and when one snapped in half he would hand it to me and say, ‘Fix it.’

I was thinking: he might be able to hold onto it - he's three, his grip is getting stronger.

I was thinking: you have to let them make their own mistakes. It’s not a terrible loss, a balloon – maybe this is the best way to lose, feel loss, learn to move on—

Charlie reached his hand out, I gave him the balloon.

He lifted it up, opened out his fingers, and let it go.

Then, while my face gasped, his lit up, and he went wild with excitement. The balloon was skidding up into the sky, and Charlie was jumping up and down on the spot, laughing, watching it, chattering madly – ‘it’s going on a holiday!’ I heard him say. I looked up too. I started to see what he meant.

*

Afterwards, I wondered what happens to helium balloons when you let them go – whether they end up in orbit, millions of lost balloons in outerspace, or curve their way back to the ocean and get eaten by the whales. I did find some sites that said balloons may be choking the creatures of the sea. But then there was a study claiming most balloons will keep on rising until they reach a height at which they shatter. Then they’ll break into hundreds of tiny pieces, fall back to earth, and decay at the same rate as an oak leaf.

I suppose that when you let go of something, you have to try to do it the right way, the way that makes it shatter like glass then fall to the forest floor and disappear.

*

At the time, though, I was caught up in Charlie’s excitement — the balloon was going up but it was still itself, still blue — and I started to think about my Cello books, how I want there to be a girl, and she's sitting on a sloping roof in Cambridge, England, reading a book about Isaac Newton. Isaac and his falling apple, his glass prisms, his rainbows, and his fascination with things impossibly small, or impossibly large, or impossibly far away - while, at the same time, in the Kingdom of Cello, a boy in a dark grey woollen hat is walking across the white, white, snowy fields –

The balloon was going up, up, up, getting smaller, smaller, smaller, and we were laughing in amazement at the distance of it – that it could go so far, so fast, and get so small!

'Look, Charlie,' I said, 'you can still see it, it’s just a tiny speck but you can see it!' But then I turned and realised he'd stopped watching, he was heading for our front door to get in out of the rain.

26 Comments:

Blogger Karen Mahoney said...

I suppose that when you let go of something, you have to try to do it the right way, the way that makes it shatter like glass then fall to the forest floor and disappear.

This brought tears to my eyes. Letting go is hard, but I'm trying to do it in the right way.

Big hugs & well done for writing 31 beautiful posts.

Kaz
<3

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Christy said...

Dear Jaclyn,
thank you so much for blogging every day in may. i understand it might have been quite an effort for you, but still! it made me smile a lot.
after i read your post about that review, where the woman said your book, Dreaming of Amelia, was UNFEMINIST, i felt i had to rush out and buy it right away to see if it was true or not.
i read the first bit with a mounting sense of disappointment, partly because of the change of cover (what happened to the fruit with the lettters? I liked the fruit! and the girl on the front was blonde and tan, which made me think of amelia as blonde and tan, even though really she is red-headed and pale. misleading)but also mainly because of the fact that charlie and emily were no more, as were seb and lydia! And lydia is my favourite character too, tied in place with elizabeth clarry. but then i came back to the book the next day, and instead of feeling disappointed it made me so happy! i loved this book to bits. it ended so well, and everyone was reunited. and there were so many things to think about as well, not just relationships and couples. there was time travel! there was the class war! there were crazy old women!
in short, this book was an absolutely perfect way to end the series. thank you so much for writing it. i look forward to your next one.
Christy
p.s. and i don't think it was unfeminist. that reviewer was clearly several buttons short of a cardigan.

1:59 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

Jaclyn, I'm so sorry that this has come to an end! I've been reading your blog for a while- particularly after the poetry contest- and it was so amazing to have a post to read every day.

Charlie is adorable. There can be no argument. He's also very smart- I only know one other three year old who is like Charlie. He even looks a bit like Charlie. Except he's my cousin, so he can't be Charlie.

What are the Cello books? Have I missed something?

4:23 AM  
Anonymous Faith said...

This month has been lovely. Thank you for sticking to it so reliably! I read lots of author blogs on an aggregator and yours has been the one I save for last every day because it just makes me smile. I'll miss it very much in the coming days! Please, consider updating every so often? We'd all appreciate it, I'm sure.

6:08 AM  
Anonymous Tammy said...

I hate letting go!
Never fun!

I will miss your daily blog posts, Jaci! But I hope you get lots of writing done so I can go out and read your Cello books soon. :)

9:17 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Oh dear I shall miss your blog posts, Ms. Moriarty! They were wonderful and inspiring and beautiful and bittersweet and a constant highlight of my May days. Your new Cello books sound absolutely fascinating and I do hope that you will continue to update us on your progress and when they'll be published so that we might read them! It was a brilliant 31 blog posts you gave us and I hope you'll still continue to post here occasionally :)

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

Keep posting please? Your posts are as good as your books :)

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who do we call to cancel June?

4:56 AM  
Blogger Jaclyn Moriarty said...

I'm so glad I did the blogging-every-day thing because your comments have made me smile every day, and these ones make me smile even more than usual. Thank you to you all for being so lovely. (And Helen, I'm working on a series about a Kingdom called Cello at the moment - that's what the Cello books are. I'll put more about them on my website eventually.) Jxxx

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Iris said...

Thanks so much Jaclyn, for writing all these blogs, they were lovely and fun to read. Can't we keep May instead of letting it go?

Oh, and I have to say that after reading that one blog, i'm proud to be a Dutch girl (:

12:34 AM  
Blogger Jaclyn Moriarty said...

Thank YOU, Iris, for your kind comment, and especially for being one of those beautiful children of the Netherlands.

And also, to Christy: thank you for your comment and for all the generous things you said - and I'm sorry that you weren't keen on the cover of the UK edition (I agree that the fruit covers were great, so I see why you would miss them), and I'm also sorry that your comment couldn't be included - it's just that it said a bit too much about the ending of 'Amelia'. But i read the whole comment myself, and want to thank you! Jx

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Kristianna said...

I think the rainbow was definitely worth mentioning. That post reminded me of summer, which made me happy, which reminded me of the beach, which made me want to go the beach. Thanks :)

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I felt just like that when I got let go of. When I saw the person was going to do it, from the first half-sentence I knew and took a big gulp of air and felt lighter, and while I listened to their careful words I could feel my string slipping through the fingers of their voice and tried to understand and really imagine as fast as possible how I made the person I loved feel anxious and afraid. I said barely one thing, a final useless rubbery balooney wiggle, and I was off. As I floated away I saw a note on the whiteboard, "I've left," and something about a friend who would pick up a package, and then I drifted while slowly disintegrating. Balloons can get really high and last a long time, but I think it probably doesn't matter that much. ...maybe I'm being mean to say that. I was trying to be funny. I should not say that. not here. The air is so thin up here, and I get confused, and I'm sorry because I'm doing it, right now---but it can be an example! of my balloon-like disposition, so that you will also really try to imagine that important scene when I was let go, not skip to the floating and floating.

Normally I would complain that you were mixing up metaphors, but here it works well: I don't think it's right to judge the truth of an idea based on how good it makes you feel which it almost seems like you're doing but you're really not. I thought your Charlie story was about shifting your perspective completely by listening, and even though you did it very quickly it was still barely quick enough for it to count. Being fast like that opens so many possibilities.

If I don't pop I'll try to get better at being fast, and thanks for your strange intense blog and your books, especially the last one. I might send it to my old Mothers and Daughters in Literature professor. I thought I might do before I read your blog because I got the sense you took what you were doing heaps more seriously than the tone of the stories made it seem. She used to talk to us about the space between the author and the story, and between one generation of girls and the next, and about vigorous argument among femminists, about listening and what we are trying to accomplish. And how daughtering is something active just like mothering which made me think of the young characters in your books and how you always say strength-of-character. I think she might like it, but anyway I admire you for having the courage to be read (something an anonymous commenter ought to admire. im still not ready.), and am glad it's you who ended up with that courage.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Tammy said...

i have jaci's-blog-withdrawal!!!
come back!!

10:38 PM  
Blogger Jaclyn Moriarty said...

Tammy, I miss being here and hearing from all you lovely people too. I will try to come back soon.

And thank you for your thoughts, balloon. As for listening - it's all about when when you do it. Listen to sense and constructive criticism (even if, at first, it doesn't feel good); don't listen to nonsense and destructive attacks. In the meantime, you can float around up there for as long as you like, that's perfectly all right - I just don't want you killing whales or dolphins. jxxx

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Rose said...

I still check this blog for updates, and every single time I see the title it reminds me of a song called Black Balloon by the Kills.
Good song. Recommended.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Whatzit Tooya said...

What the FLAX are you guys talking about? If any of you have The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie (Which I am sure all of you have) (If not, go to the library and find it right now!!!),then you would get that.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Sammy said...

Jaclyn! I have been missing your blogs severely. However, today I am full of joy. Today - right now! - I am about to open Dreaming of Amelia for the first time. Happiness.

I agree with one of your commenters about the fruit covers. I borrowed your books when I first read them and I want to buy them for myself, but I wanted the fruit covers. Sigh. I shall just have to get the new ones. At least the inside is the same.

Happy July, Jaclyn! Happy Wednesday, Charlie!

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Sammy said...

Hi, again! I have reached Part Three and am forcing myself to stop and go to sleep. I will probably finish it tomorrow. That makes me sad because I don't want it to end! I have come to your muddy hollow to console myself.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Jaclyn Moriarty said...

Rose, I listened to Black Balloon and I liked it. And Sammy, so lovely to hear from you and happy July to you, and happy Thursday too. Jxxx

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Sammy said...

I read another book in between parts Three and Four because I wanted the book to last longer! I finished Dreaming yesterday. I loved it :)

Hoping not to give too much away...

I felt very sorry for the poor ghost! How sad.

I heard you for the first time. I was reading and all of a sudden Em said something and I thought, 'Oh! That sounds like something Jaclyn might say!' It was nice to hear you there. I think I only heard you in Em but I may have just not paid attention because I was so involved in reading...

I can't wait for the Cello books! In the meantime (apart from buying the non-fruity covers of your other books) I think I will start reading your sister's books.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Jaclyn Moriarty said...

THANK YOU, Sammy! I am so glad you liked it in the end. And okay, I see what you mean about me sometimes sounding like Em/ or her sometimes sounding like me - others have said it, too. It troubles me a little, but I see what you mean. And yes, that's an excellent plan - start reading my sister's books.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Sammy said...

Oh! I never considered you might be troubled at the thought of being recognised in your books. Your characters are so true to life that it just made sense to me to think that you draw on yourself and those around you. And it certainly doesn't mean that your characters are all based on you or that they are similar as a result - they are so varied in the way they think, speak, react... I'm constantly amazed at how rounded and full your characters' personalities are.

I am going to have a bookbuying spree after payday and i will be stocking up on moriarty literature, ready for a two-week holiday... Bliss :)

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

I think August sounds like a wonderful month to start blogging every day again, yes?

(I am sad because the MWF website says your session is sold out, so I came here to see if there were any new blog posts, which would have been a small comfort, heh. Alas, 'twas not to be. Sad, sad.)

12:32 PM  
Blogger Jaclyn Moriarty said...

Sammy - I don't mind being told that my characters sound like me/ I sound like them - it's only troubling because it's Emily, and there are people who say she DRIVES THEM MAD. So, that's what bothered me. The possibility that I might drive people mad. Otherwise, I don't mind at all. (And I hope you have/had a great two-week holiday!)

And Rebecca, I'm very sorry you were sad, and I'm sorry I'm so hopeless at this blogging. I've been thinking of a few things I could write about here, so I will do that in the next week or so. Jxxx

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Sammy said...

Oh, I see. Well.. I don't really see why Emily would drive anyone mad. She is AMAZING. But yes, I can see why that might worry you!

I will be going on holiday on Monday and am itching to read What Alice Forgot, which I bought yesterday. But I must resist, at least until I get on the plane! I tried to buy all the Ashbury High books but they were all out of stock because they were having their covers changed :( I must have just missed the last few fruit covers, how sad! What Alice Forgot was the only Moriarty book in the shop! I was not best pleased. Oh well. I suppose it gives me another excuse to go book-buying soon :)

8:30 AM  

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