Carnivals are strange bi-polar events. Dirty and beautiful. Fun and stressful. Frightening and familiar. How I love them.
It is carnival season right now. Soon we move into fair season which is a different beast all together. There are farm animals and jams at those. You don't see farm animals or jams at carnivals. Rides, games of chance, and the barest of fair food stands. The absolute "must-haves." No fried pickles, but plenty of cotton candy, candy apples, fried dough and popcorn. Yum. I have a fondness for red candy apples that won't be denied. I really. REALLY. Enjoy the red candy coated apple. Right down to its sticky, drool covered inner core.
Around the one year anniversary of boyfriend/girlfriend status, Bill and I attended a wedding together. It was a first for us... getting all dressed up. Weddings can be awkward for people who are teetering on that kind of conversation. But we managed to have a bang up time. I bought a fancy dress. Light pink and floor length, halter, lace, glamorous and it moved when I moved. It was one of those things. I woke up good looking that day with cooperative hair. He wore a black suit and shiny shoes, like a movie star from the 1940's. When he picked me up and we drove to the church we felt grown, and in charge, and in love.
The wedding was nice. We discovered we did well together at formal events. A graceful and gracious couple who (happily) wanted to leave at the same time. At some point that evening we turned to each other and nodded. We said our goodbyes and made up delicious lies about seeing people again soon and escaped into the night.
The plan was to go straight home.... but on the way there was a carnival. We saw the Ferris wheel from the highway.
"Want to go?" he asked.
"Are you kidding?" I replied.
And in a moment we were there, in all our finery, fancy like the lights that glimmered all around us. And the way people stared! Like we walked out of a fairy tale. I ate a candy apple, and Bill played game after game winning me all kinds of useless, rag tag prizes. We were king and queen of the night.
We went to a carnival again last week. It's different now, of course, there are three children to tend to... children who want to go on rides and who spill ice cream and who cry and get filthy. We don't go at night (too late!) and we certainly don't go black tie. SO, when all seemed lost and the bugs were biting and the girls were crying and the sweaty moneywasting seemed to have beaten us, my husband took my hand (so small) in his (so big) and asked "Do you want a candy apple?" The look that passed between us told the story of a hundred dancing years ago when we were young and beautiful and the future lit up like the tilt o whirl.
"Are you kidding?" I said, and we walked home inside a memory, while our daughters formed ones of their own streaming out behind them like tails.