When the Unthinkable Happens

Date: September 2003, I am a freshman in High school.
Location: Vogelweh Bowling Center, Kaiserslautern, Germany
Time: Lunch period.

I had never seen anything like it. At first glance, it appeared to be just a glass box sitting on top of a soda dispenser. It had an elegant glass door with a little silver handle that gave it a magical charm. Its shiny buttons drew me in. Its mysterious function fluttered my heart—I got closer and to my delight…

It was a balloon vending machine!? My 15-year-old mind was blown. No pun intended…

In a hypnotic fashion, I searched my pockets for loose change. I put the euro coins in. I selected the balloon color. The machine lurched. I stared into the glass box. Anticipation. Wonder. Awe.

Then a floppy yellow balloon appeared, was magically inflated, tied, knotted, and then a string attached. A little bell trilled to announce completion. I opened the little glass door and retrieved the balloon. Life would never be the same.

In my freshman year of high school, I went to that bowling alley during my lunch period nearly every day. However, that would be the only day I ever saw the balloon machine. The following day it was removed or stolen, or beamed up, or taken to the museum of fine arts or something…I never saw it again.

After I acquired the balloon my friends and I started to walk back to campus to finish out our school day. And I realized halfway through the parking lot—I have a balloon… and 3 more class periods to attend.

Was I going to walk through the halls of the k-12 D.O.D campus with a yellow balloon…tempting the fate of odd looks and snarky gossip—that did sound fun. But the thought of the balloon string snagging on something or someone, ripping or puncturing the delicate membrane that enclosed my new friend’s being… was too stressful.

I pulled out a pen from my backpack. And wrote on the yellow orb, “I miss you, Tasha xoxo. –Krs” I turned it over and wrote my best friend’s address, who lived on the other side of the planet. “Go.” I whispered. Then I released it.

My friend, Tasha had just spent the entire summer break with me in Germany before returning to Alaska. And before that, we had spent the last 2.5 years nearly inseparable.

When my father was deployed to Germany, I decided to join him and somehow, we convinced Tasha’s mother to allow her to come along and stay for the summer.

But now the new school year was well in sway. I was here, on this continent and she was there on that continent.

. . .

It was a Saturday night, 2:00 in the morning my time. 12:00 in the afternoon Tasha’s time. I called her from the corded phone in the kitchen. The sound of her voice over the phone made me sad. I wasn’t used to hearing it that way yet.

“I got your letter the other day.” She said.

“Oh, that reminds me!” I replied, “Be on the lookout for a yellow balloon. I sent it to you today after buying it from a vending machine in a bowling alley.”

“What!? A balloon vending machine?”

“Yes!” I raved.

Never had or have I since seen a balloon machine in the U.S. I’m still utterly impressed and slightly skeptical due to the short exposure and sudden disappearance of the one I encountered in the German bowling alley. I stop writing this to search for evidence of the balloon machine of my past on YouTube… they do in fact exist. Heww!

Side note—there are also cigarette vending machines in Germany on pretty much every street corner…. Put the money in take your pack of camels. No one needs to know how old you are.

In the end though. The balloon machine gave me a better deal, got me higher, and made me a believer in miracles…

Three weeks went by and I never think about the balloon. What’s there to think about anyway? I let it go. I gave it its mission and I let it go. The fate of the balloon was entangled within its own string now.

Then, I’m on the phone with Tasha again. “Oh, by the way! I got your yellow balloon.” She says nonchalantly.

I’m jolted back to the parking lot scene, the pen cap still in my mouth as I let it go and watch the yellow dream mosey off in a westward trajectory.

“Wait What!?” I wonder.

“Yea, I got the whole thing–it says, I miss you, Tasha xoxo —krs.”

“I didn’t tell you what it said…”

“I know. I have it.”

I’m reeling. Heart racing. Confusion. Disbelief.

“Also, I received a letter with it.” She finally confesses. “I guess a family found it in their yard just outside of Frankfurt and thought it was a love message that traveled all the way from Alaska, and so they wrote to me and sent its deflated remnants.”

“I knew it was a magical Balloon Machine.” I thought.

*** Photos by Tasha Leach

. . .

Sometimes you have to let things go. Trust they will find their way…

Knowing that the helpers will emerge, the stars will align, the clouds will disperse and magic will unfold.

The unthinkable is possible. The improbable is more probable than you think.

Things will happen in your life that surprise and delight you.

But really, it’s the power of your open heart sending all your prayers in the right direction.

It’s your magnetic soul attracting that which will make you marvel at the mystery and magic of existence…so that you can give and receive and love deeply, up close or from afar.

Believe the unthinkable can happen.

And it shall.

One thought on “When the Unthinkable Happens

  1. Thank you for sharing that story with the world. Belief is abounding because of your magical yellow balloon and fabulous you!

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