Other Selves in Helium Balloons
What surprised us was not that they suddenly appeared, but that they had not always been there, those helium balloons of past experience tethered to strings above our heads. They encased the parts of us we had called lost only because we didn’t have a word for the feeling, the thought that those people we once were continued existing in some other dimension, the night in Berlin, drinking White Russians in the flat of a friend of a friend, singing Leonard Cohen until sunrise, or standing on the steps of the church we went to in childhood, watching our grandmother’s coffin drive away.
Some kept their strings short, wandering around with balloon bouquets of memories in front of their faces, and some let their balloons out so high, it seemed as though their strings were attached to the sky. Warm womb balloons and tiny balloons of children’s laughter and great balloons from long sad days we thought we may have left behind, all strung along behind us for almost a month until the winds changed and as suddenly as they came, those iridescent casings flew away.
We weren’t sad to see them go like we thought we might be. Some left their strings around their wrists as memories of the memories we had finally all seen, but seeing they were there for that brief time, we remembered they had always been there, our other selves in other times still living, and the present a helium balloon about to fly away.