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Linnea McNally: Glasgow Balloon

Putting things back on the shelf just wasn't an option for five-year-old me. Even if adults weren't convinced of the unheard back-stories and emotions held behind plastic-wrap and price tags, I knew that it was only a matter of years before we would be able to tap into the lives of stuffies and figurines and skipping ropes. So, you see, even when I was permitted to pick out a chocolate bar because I had been good, and I happened to choose a broken one, I had to keep it -- if only because I knew no one else would. Otherwise, where would I be? Sitting in our minivan, enjoying the perfection of an untampered Crispy Crunch, knowing I had left a rejectee behind?

I recall on one occasion, during a particularly hot summer, nearly apologizing to a bouncy ball aloud prior to tossing it in the neighbours' pool: they hadn't yet invited us over for a swim, and so this sphere of sparkly rubber (a fate which, thankfully, God had not also chosen for me) would need to be the sacrificial excuse for making my way into that unchlorinated tank (a fate which also came with an eye infection for my sister).

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Twenty summers later, expectedly divested of such overzealous empathy, I find myself passing a quiet afternoon alone at the top of Glasgow's Necropolis. Where younger, edgier Scots share smokes and laughter, my notebook and I settle in with the dead for company and shade, while the city perspires below. Upon finally making my way down the hill, and heading back through the streets towards my hostel on the River Clyde, I stumble across a question about something I suddenly realize I've been experiencing for years. That is, when we take note of the otherwise ignored, is it a perceived singularity that transforms the interaction or moment into something unutterably and beautifully alive? or, is "inanimate" really just a perpetuated misnomer, resulting from the fact that we still haven't learned the language required for tapping into the frenzied life of an earnest but lonely red balloon?

 

 
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