Last night I went to the fair with my boyfriend, or I guess I should get used to saying fiance now, and our two friends. Since we’ve met, it was one sure thing that he knew was important to me. The State Fair. I can’t explain how excited I get when I go to the fair and honestly, I’m not really sure why. It’s really pretty much the same every year. The same rides on the midway that I don’t ride because I’m afraid of rides. The same food, give or take a chocolate covered tulip or bacon or whatever it is this year. The animals are always cute to me, and I always leave thinking I should practice being a vegetarian again, but I walk out of the stalls and get a jumbo corn dog or tenderloin. It’s always hot and dusty and there are always tons of kids, sticky and wet,crying for more dip ‘n dots, cotton candy covering their mouths and fingers. A soda is more expensive than at the movies and the ice turns warm in about two seconds flat. I always see people carrying rulers, yet I can never find where they distribute them and in the background, I can always hear the Circle City Cloggers. Ahhhh…the Indiana State Fair. But for me…it’s so much more. I always go at night, and it’s how the moon sets as a backdrop for the entire fair, making it feel like some Larry McMurtry novel out of Texas or a scene from Urban Cowboy. It’s seeing the 4-H kids run around in tight jeans and work boots, baseball hats cocked crooked on their heads, buying their girlfriends a lemon shake up and walking to the midway, too poor to buy tickets for rides, but just proud enough to stay up all night shearing their prize sheep, their ironed polo hanging on a wooden hanger off of their pins. And I always get jealous of the little living areas that the people showing animals have made for themselves, complete with microwaves, cots, fans and little refrigerators. When I was little, I would imagine sleeping in there over night, listening to all of the animals sleep and the sheep bahahaha and the fans whir. And well, I guess I still dream for that a little bit.
It was always a tradition for my mom and I to go to the fair. Always, without question. In fact, lambs were her favorite animal because of how gentle they are and she collected unique lambs, her favorite being one with authentic wool and small sticks made by the nuns at Marion College and given to her by her sorority sister Vicky. I still have a picture of my mom, a few years ago, petting one of the lambs, as calm as she wanted to be. I buried her with one of her lambs. Her favorite. And this year on her birthday, Alex suggested I take one out to her gravesite, but I just couldn’t part with them. I also explained that my mom loved salt water taffy from the fair and he asked me what kind was her favorite. I looked up and thought to myself for a minute and then answered pink, because of course salt water taffy doesn’t have flavors, just colors. Except for licorice. And she didn’t like those. He suggested I get some pink taffy and take it out to her grave. And today I did just that. But I walked around, saying hi to Zach, a former patient who is two graves down and Nancy, my best friend Lis’ mother, who is right behind my mom, keeping a watch on her. And I chewed that taffy and noticed that the grass on her grave wasn’t growing. And then I realized it didn’t really matter she wasn’t there anyway. And then I remembered where I had found her last.
It had been last night, after I left Alex and our friends in the midway to ride the rides. It was about 9:45 and the fair was almost empty. I wanted to see the sheep, but I couldn’t find them, so I headed to the baby pigs instead, always a favorite of my mom’s. So I was headed down towards the pigs, past the concessions closing up, and somewhere in the distance I heard Cat Steven’s “Oh Very Young”…and I couldn’t believe it. One of my mom’s all time favorite songs. She loved the line, “and although you want it to last forever, you know it never will.” And I thought, well I’ll be damned. And for a brief moment at the fair, she was walking down the main street with me, hand in hand, listening to the music, walking towards the pigs. So see, she’s never very far away. And I was happy I went this year, because last year I didn’t go because I thought it would be hard. But that’s just a load of crap. Life is hard, but mystery, love and miracles are everywhere. And I just know that somewhere up there, she’s surrounded by lambs, and they’re probably driving her a little crazy with all that bahahaha’ing they do all the time. But I know she remembers the fair. And I know she remembers how when I was five, in my little cowboy boots, riding the carousel around and around, with my mom and my Aunt Janny watching, saying “One more time Aunt Janny, one more time.” And of course they would let me. Until I got too old to go to the fair with my mom and my aunt. And now maybe, it’s too late. But the memories are alive on the dust of the fairgrounds, just like I thought, as I walked along that street, how she had probably walked on that very same dust just a few years before.
So I guess, after all, death brings meaning to everything. It’s makes us remember, or become more aware or maybe just appreciate things a little bit more. I just wish we had that gift when the people we loved are still around to enjoy those times with everyday. But the State Fair, it will always be there, even after me, because that’s the nature of things to continue and go on…and I hope I never forget and always remember…and in reality, I’m a little older, but really, a little younger at heart, a little wiser, but I still feel…and that’s a wonderful thing…Oh man, what a wonderful thing…because, well you know, we’re on borrowed time as it is…
P.S. On my blogroll, I’ve added Suicide Birds and Seahorses; my original blog…Please read it as it was what originally motivated this blog, although I don’t check it anymore, so please don’t leave comments, but I think some of the writing was honest and enjoyable…take care and treat each other with sloppy kisses and comfy hugs…love ya!