Prescription: balloon ride


I feel like I should be talking about Christmas, but all I’m thinking about are balloons.

It’s been seven months since Spencer and I sailed above Napa Valley in a hot air balloon — for, like, 45 minutes. Total. But those 45 minutes were absolutely life-affirming, and if I’d ever had any doubt that sometimes serenity can be found in the oddest of places? That would be it.

Eh, I’m dealing with some not-so-fun health issues at the moment. Nothing serious, don’t worry, but it’s jarring to find myself making medical appointments and getting tests and looking up insurance stuff. Filing claims — and realizing that I am the “policy holder.” It makes me feel both impossibly adult and impossibly young. I keep waiting for my organized, efficient and awesome mom to swoop in and handle all this for me, you know?

Sucks growing up.

I realize I’m pretty fortunate to never have had a brush with medical problems before — aside from some carpal stuff from too much crochet and piano in my youth. Never broke a bone, never stayed in a hospital. Aside from a few falls off the ol’ bike and the skinned knees that accompany them, I graduated from youth without any major setbacks.

Though I will be A-OK in no time, I feel weird and a little scared — because I need to start making some major life changes. That’s what’s shaken me up, I think — not even the problem itself, but what it means. Now in my late twenties, my body’s youthful exuberance is no longer something I can take for granted. When I talked to my friend Brandon about my current troubles, he smiled sympathetically. “You’ll be okay,” he said. “It happens. It’s just, you know, part of getting older.”

Getting older.

I won’t just “bounce back” from illnesses. Poor diet choices won’t just . . . melt away, dissolved by walks around campus or the playground. I mean, I’ve gained a significant amount of weight since college. Forty pounds, actually. Forty pounds.


So: balloons! I return to balloons. They’re colorful. They make me happy. They’re something to remind me of all the fun life has to offer — the unexpected adventures; the good times and moments of Zen. Riding in that balloon with Spencer was quite Zen for me — so much so that I have a big print of the balloons next to my desk. I look at it often, especially when I’m feeling less-than-sparkly, and I remember.

What it was like to drift with no particular destination — and no control over how you’ll get there.

And I know I’ll feel that warm sun on my face again.

Colorful balloon

19 thoughts on “Prescription: balloon ride

    • You know, I don’t know if that feeling ever does go away . . . there’s probably a part of us that always longs for our parents to come right our wrongs!


  1. Oh boo, I’m sorry you’re having to deal with that. I’m at a very similar stage in life. Late twenties seem scary in a lot of ways because you’re still young, but your body is starting to lean more towards adulthood than youth. I put on weight after/during college too and the older you get the harder it is to ignore.

    p.s. Your post reminded me of how much I want to do a hot air balloon ride.


    • Absolutely true, Melissa — and I’m definitely feeling more “adult” than kiddo these days. I don’t like hearing my knees pop when I stand up, you know? Aside from being embarrassing, it’s just . . . too soon for that. And yes, take a hot air balloon ride! Worth every penny.


  2. I’ve never been on a balloon ride, but it sounds incredible, especially over Napa Valley. I hope you get your health issues figured out. It’s never fun–dealing with insurance companies is torture.


    • If you get the chance to take a ride, Christina, take it! So amazing and unforgettable. The scenery was gorgeous, but the experience of floating above the earth was even better. Thanks for the words of encouragement, too!


  3. These photos are beautiful. They send me to a happy place. Some life events these past two weeks have sent me to a new place of adulthood too. And it’s frightening. Your words capture it well. Sending hugs, love, and healing thoughts. xo


    • Thank you, Melissa — sending warm vibes that everything works out well for you. We all need a happy place — and a hot air balloon would definitely be mine.


  4. Deep breath…think about healthy choices…take care…but wat do I know…lol…I try to be green and organic but…growing older bites big time!


    • Quite true, Patty. This has definitely been a wake-up call to make some healthier choices, although I never thought I was all that bad. And yet . . .


  5. Loved the post but I disagree with one thing–growing up. Here’s why:
    – up until the end of your teens you mostly do what others expected of you (now, THAT was not much fun)
    – during the twenties you begin to get some autonomy, but you also get the bills. The pay is not always enough. Better but not ideal.
    – during the thirties you got pretty much as much autonomy as you ever will have and the pay gets better but the number of responsibilities also rose. Still better.
    – during the forties the level of pay can increase but the responsibilities may not. Traction!
    – during the fifties the level of pay can still increase and the responsibilities may or may not. More traction! Besides–you stop worrying about what others think.
    – as for the sixties…who knows!
    As for health, it’s not that bad. With age also comes stubbornness. Old timers often bounce back quicker than the youngsters…and complain less about it :>)
    Oh, and with age comes wisdom…sometimes :>)


  6. I hope your health issues are getting resolved.

    The balloon ride sounds lovely. Unfortunately my husband is deathly afraid of heights and I just don’t think it’s an experience I’d want to share with someone other than him.


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