The older I get the more I realize that I did not have a normal childhood. I had a good one, but not a normal or rather average one. Obviously, I have not suffered because of it, I grew up just fine and had everything I needed and for that I am eternally grateful, but I definitely did not share the same experiences that many of my peers did. It may have been a cultural thing, or maybe it was a working class thing, who really knows (and I honestly never cared). When I first met A, it seemed that he experienced everything that I didn’t and I was utterly fascinated. He was a typical American boy and honestly I adored him all the more both because and in spite (you know, cultural differences…) of it.
So in our first summer together we planned a trip to the beach in North Carolina and while driving A day-dreamt about going for swims, having BBQs, fishing and flying kites. I quietly admitted that I had never flown a kite and A’s eyes almost popped out of his head. The normal reaction of any other person would have been either 1. burst out laughing, 2. shaking head until they would have gotten sick, or (the worst option) 3. wondering what kind of life I had lived up to this point, imagining that I may have had a deprived childhood which I definitely didn’t. Each of these scenarios would have made me feel horribly bad about myself and how I was brought up. But not A, he did the only thing he knew how to: Show me the world, one kite-flying experience at a time.
So, he stopped at the nearest excessive-everything-store and ran to the all-things-beach-aisle. There he contemplated the pros and cons of every kite and eventually settled on a very colorful two-people-needed-to-fly-kite and let me tell you, that thing was precious and horrifically expensive but A insisted. He said that if he was to teach me how to fly a kite it needed to be a top notch kite, one where all the other kids would be jealous of it… I am not sure why buying a kite had to be so competitive, but apparently it did.
Once we had gotten through the buying of the kite, we made it to our rental house where the kite laid for a couple days before we even opened it, but that’s a different story. One evening we made it down to the beach with the kite in our hands and A was generally excited to get the kite flying while I had a more laid-back approach to the whole endeavour. A instructed me to stand there, hold this, do that while he held this, moved there and yelled a few instructions from half a mile away against the wind.
After about twenty minutes of that we finally managed to airborne our kite and happily maneuvered the contraption about eight feet above the ground. I happily cheered and was genuinely impressed with physics, for about thirty seconds.
I couldn’t react fast enough when I realized what was happening, just as quickly as the rainbow kite rose, it twisted ugly, tried to recover but ultimately failed and landed in the neighbor’s thick thorny garden. My true city-kid reaction was to just pull on the string until the claws of bushes would let it go (naturally). At first A supported my retrieving strategy until he realized that the claws weren’t an easy match.
So instead A climbed into and over and underneath the jungle-like garden to retrieve our kite but it was no use. By the time he got to it, the kite had lost its will to fly and there was no amount of duct tape that could have fixed that. I felt heartbroken at the thought of having spend so much effort and money on a kite and then crashing it within less than a minute. But A did not care, he did not let any of this ruin his mood, he just laughed it off and hugged me and assured me that crashing kites was just as important as knowing how to fly them.
I’ve loved A long before this day but this day, when we were flying kites, although briefly, I realized that I had found a partner in A that I could trust through highs and lows, crashing and landing gently, happiness and sadness and for the rest of my life.