“It is NOT fine! We have to be there by 5:30 or they will leave us and even if I leave right now, we won’t be there until 6:00 probably & this is all your fault because I didn’t want to set the alarm & wake you up!" (Okay. Not the best response to him being nice and getting up to help me. I realize that now, but did I mention how early it was?? It was still dark out for goodness sake. Cut me some slack.)Then I panicked more. I think somehow my sleep-deprived brain in its panic mode thought that through some cosmic glitch, my friend’s alarm clock had failed to go off as well. So I sprinted to the other side of the house and flung open her door to scream, “Get up!” But that wasn’t necessary. There she sat, on the bed, (which was neatly made by the way) fully dressed, make-up and hair done, reading a magazine. She looked up at the completely crazy woman standing in her doorway in pajamas, eyes ablaze, mouth covered in toothpaste foam, and said quietly, “I wondered when you were going to get up; don’t we have to be there right now?” I almost killed her. I almost lunged at my friend of over 20 years and stabbed her with my dripping toothbrush. “Why didn’t you wake me up?” I screamed. “Because I knew you didn’t want to wake him up, and I knew the dogs would bark if I knocked on your bedroom door. I tried to text you.” My brain was entirely too muddled to even comprehend what she was saying. I turned and ran back across the house to find My Knight calmly standing by my closet door. “She is AWAKE!” I screamed at him, yanking jeans out of the closet and pulling them on. “She is completely awake and ready to go, and she did not even wake me up!” “Why didn’t she wake you up?” he asked calmly. “Because she didn’t want to wake YOU up!” (as though this was somehow HIS fault???) “Well, that was nice of her. Don’t be mad at her because your alarm didn’t go off. It’s not her fault. Just calm down. It’s gonna be okay. There’s nothing you can do other than get ready and get there as soon as you can. It will be fine.” All I could think was: 'Why do I have to be surrounded by nice people? She doesn’t want to wake up the dogs or the hubby; he’s being all calm and helpful. Can no one other than me see how terrible this situation is? Do they not understand the absolute catastrophe that has happened? How are they so calm? Why are they being so nice that it makes them difficult to deal with?' We were in the car by 5:43, which I think has to be some sort of record for me in terms of time from wake-up to drive-away. I was shaking all over, so mad and embarrassed and disappointed and sleepy that I just wanted to cry. (So I did.) I squealed the tires getting onto the interstate, and she calmly said, “Don’t worry. It will be okay.” What is with these people????? I looked at her as though she had three heads. “The next time we have to be somewhere and I tell you that I need to be in the shower at 4:30 and we need to leave by 5:10 and be there by 5:30 and you haven’t seen me at all and all my things to get ready are on the couch, you have my permission to wake up the dogs, my husband, the entire neighborhood to make sure I am awake, okay? Especially if we have to be somewhere to do something that we will not get a refund or reschedule if we are late!” “Don’t worry. If we miss it, I will just pay for it.” AAARRRGGGHHH. More niceties! I can’t stand it. Really, people? “That’s not the point! The point is I wanted to do something for your birthday that would be nice, and this is not nice! I wanted you to have an incredible experience. We are probably going to miss your entire birthday present, and I wanted you to see the sky and how blue it is and how far you can see and now we are late and my hair is not even combed and I had a ponytail last night so there’s a hump on the back of my hair and I have no make-up on and my shirt doesn’t match my pants and this is definitely not how I thought this would turn out.” (My sentences tend to run together dramatically when I am hysterical. Hope you could keep up.) “It’s okay.” She said again calmly. “Stop saying that!! It’s not okay!! I am ruining your birthday, and it’s not okay!” Yeah, I realize now that perhaps my behavior was a bit dramatic and self-absorbed. And that my screaming at her was probably worse than missing the balloon ride, but seriously, who sits on their bed completely ready to go until after the time you’re supposed to be there?????? “I tried to text you,” she said quietly. “My phone was in the kitchen. If you didn’t see me, and you didn’t hear me, and there were no lights on, and I never showed up in the bathroom…you know what, never mind. Obviously, the whole day is ruined.” We pulled into the parking lot to see nine vans of people already fully loaded with balloons on trailers behind them. I rolled down the window and motioned to one of the guys, who told me they were pulling out and I needed to park quickly. In the van, I could feel the cold stares of the other passengers. Whether they were staring at my unkempt, uncombed hair and unmatched outfit or just staring because we had delayed their perfect day, I was not sure. But then the driver got in and said, “Okay, maybe we can still see the sunrise. Not likely, but maybe.” At that point, I was pretty sure it was the delay causing the stares. We ended up making a flawless take-off with an incredible view of the sun coming up over the trees through tendrils of fog. It was breathtaking. I have always said that God made sunsets because he knew all of us wouldn’t be up to see it rise, but this was a beautiful sight.
We flew over a lush, green swamp with trees stretching to reach the sun.We floated over ponds that reflected us like mirrors and over wildlife that scampered away from the occasional sound of the helium flames. It was so peaceful. So quiet. So calming. And we seemed so small in the sky gazing over the immense expanse of Earth.
The balloon moved slowly, quietly, pulled this way and that by a gentle breeze. There is no way to steer a hot air balloon other than to climb or descend until you find the horizontal elevator of wind that will take you where you’d like to go. We went higher and lower as we navigated the changing directions.As I gazed over the beautiful landscape, I turned to see her smile as she basked in the sunlight warm on her face. I realized then that it really didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if my hair wasn’t combed, I had no make-up on, and my clothes didn’t match. (Although those pictures will NEVER see Facebook.) It didn’t matter that we were late. (Some of the other guests may beg to differ, but we won’t ask them.) It didn’t matter that the day started out so sourly. At any point in any day, we have a choice to enjoy the day from that moment forward. We have a choice to embrace whatever joy we can find in that day. I had pictured Trixie and I getting up together, laughing about how early it was, yawning as we waited for the balloons to be filled, and then having an incredible experience flying high in the clouds. It didn’t happen that way. And that’s okay. It was a beautiful, breathtaking flight. We landed safely. And Trixie was happy. And that was what really mattered. (Love ya, Trixie!) God, thank you for putting nice people in my life that love me, understand me when I’m being a B, and allow me a little extra wiggle room to be dramatic before sunrise. Please grant me patience and understanding to be a little more nice back to them. A lot more actually, but maybe we should start small. P.S. And I forgot my camera. So these lovely pics were snapped with Trixie's new phone and edited by me. (But still copyrighted!) Thanks, Trixie! Love ya bunches! Sorry for being a B, and I hope you had a happy birthday!!