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project hot air balloon


By 12:49 AM , , , ,

I was watering some plants in the back room early one morning, when I noticed an imprint of a tiny heart on the back of my hand.

I looked at it again and it was unmistakably a heart.

I couldn't figure out how it got there. I kept staring at it, as if it would tell me. It didn't.

I had just gotten out of bed, so there weren't any footsteps to retrace. But I wandered around anyway, from room to room, looking for things that could have left this perfectly shaped impression. Nothing came close.

I thought I was seeing things; I tried rubbing it off, but it was in there good.

I was too preoccupied to notice that Bootsie was following me around waiting to get fed. I quickly filled up her bowl. As Bootsie crunched away at her breakfast, her head bobbed up and down over her bowl while her collar moved from side to side; that's when I finally realized how this heart made its way onto my hand.

It's been unusually chilly in San Francisco this summer. And lately, I've had a tough time getting out of bed in the morning. If you've never spent time in SF during the summer months, it's no joke. While the rest of the country and globe is dropping dead from the heat wave, I rely on the warmth of another to stay cozy in bed a little longer.

That morning, that generosity came in the form of a 60 pound Bootsie.

When I called her into bed, she gladly obliged and curled up next to me. I slipped my arm under her chest while her hairy chin rested on the sheets - a classic move of braiding limbs.

She wears a blinged out red patent leather collar that's lined with three small enamel hearts. As we slept, the weight of this beast's heavy head had pressed one of the hearts on her collar squarely onto my skin, leaving a clear and lasting mark of her having been there. In all the times we've nestled in the same formation, not once has this happened before, or since, for that matter.

This heart incident reminds me of a scene from the classic 1976 movie, "Sybil", which illustrates how an abusive mother pretty much blocked any ray of light that shone into her daughter's childhood. This made Sybil into the schizophrenic nightmare of an adult she would later become. It's a super melodramatic, overacting, creepy movie (based on a true story) that my best friend Debbie and I relished watching after coming back from the bar one night our sophomore year in college. In this scene, Sybil shows her "momma" a Christmas star ornament that she made for the tree.

When Deb and I first saw this scene, we were blown away and rewound it a sick number of times.
"That's not an ornament, that's just a picture from a magazine with a piece of tin foil stuck to it." over and over and over again.

That summer we would work that particular sentiment of her mother's response into every possible opportunity.

If there's a sandwich, one of us would say,

"That's not a sandwich, that's just slices of ham and cheese with lettuce and tomato stuck between two slices of bread."


"That's not a pool, that's just a hole in the ground with a ton o' water poured into it."

"That's not a painting, it's just a bunch of color splattered onto a square frame with fabric stretched over it."

I mean, we were relentless. The absurdity of being so literal cracked us up.

Why does the heart episode remind me of Sybil?

While there are logical explanations to uncommon occurrences, some stones are better left unturned. If an apparition of Christ could appear in a burnt potato chip or the Virgin Mary on a piece of firewood, a tiny heart could easily deboss its way onto my hand and make my day. Belief is in the eye of the beholder and what you believe shapes you, or, at the very least nudges you. Yes, Sybil, that is an ornament. You shouldn't have let that bitch take it away from you.

It's funny that David Blaine's Street Magic is on TV right now while I type this. Even though his lifeless voice and blank stares make me uncomfortable, his hustle is so smooth, I'll watch his simple street tricks every time. I love his magic as much as I dislike his stunts. It's the extraordinary in the ordinary that's so magical. It's not the millions in Times Square, satellite simulcast, or an elaborate setup of a hermetically sealed coffin, but a small group of passersby down the street, not suspecting a thing shot with a handheld camera.  We meet these folks moments before they cross over the threshold between doubt and belief. That shift is so good.

None of the spectators are actors. The hustler is. And it's all so very good.

Hi Deb!

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