It’s a Fun Fair. It’s supposed to be fun.
Since we have moved to the farm, I think I have a new hobby: looking out my windows at the various Northern Illinois landscapes that surround me. The evening is the best time for this, no matter which direction I choose. The sunsets come in a palette of my best colors: pinks, golds, and oranges that range from the quietest warm to radiance of a physical nature. Sometimes, as I look to the west, I can see lights, too far to be coming from the neighbor’s farm, mixing into the powdery sky, late into dusk, almost night.
“This could be the saddest dusk I’ve ever seen, turn to a miracle.”
The university buildings offer their light and energy of a different sort with my view to the east. I think of the students making their way back to their dorms after classes, and tolerating the season’s final few icy winds along the trek. I can see the barren post-harvest fields through the grove of trees at the north end of our property; those that farm these fields must be, like me, eager for the promise of spring.
“My mind is racing.”
The windmills spin in the distance south and west of the farm. From this safe distance, they seem peaceful and purposeful. Up close, they are foreboding. They are scary, like the Fun Fair.
I don’t like the Fun Fair. I am afraid of the Fun Fair. Windmills remind me of pinwheels, except for the fact that the person with the pinwheel has some control over when it spins. Control, that is, until the wind takes it. And then, it’s no longer up to us. Pinwheels remind me of windmills, and then I think of the Fun Fair, and how it is not fun for everyone. When the first people thought of Fun Fairs, they didn’t think of me, and how I would feel about the Fun Fair.
“I didn’t think, didn’t think of you…”
She seemed a bit disgruntled as she fumbled about the computer, looking for her headphones so she could listen to music while she did her homework. Her angst was the type that would certainly settle itself if nobody acknowledged the steam, which was a mere whistle relative to the fervently boiling kettles of the not too distant past. She found her headphones, returned to her seat at the computer, announced that she was writing a personal narrative.
The flower boxes boasted their early autumn splendor in a royal array of green and purple kale, bold pansies rising to the warm sun, and miniature pumpkins and gourds for a touch of whimsy and to herald the winds of change. She never spoke of the pumpkins or the pansies, though. What she remembered was the sign in the yard of the quaint brick bungalow in the middle of Third Street, the sign which announced for all to see: FOR SALE.
Caught in my own anxiety and my hope that she would feel welcome, that she would like us, I didn’t think of her, or of what she would think when she saw that sign. I didn’t know if she liked fun fairs…or windmills…or pinwheels. Through her personal narrative that she wrote many years later, though, I learned that she saw that FOR SALE sign, and that she wondered if she would stay with this family, too, or if she would move on.
Here’s the problem with most of these things: there’s nowhere to put your fears.
And so we spin out, again and again, and we attend many Fun Fairs, even if they are not fun. Fun fairs are chaotic, filled with indiscernible smells, unsettling noises, Bozo buckets, cake walks, and plastic prizes, a dollar a dozen. I can’t volunteer at the Fun Fair. I will, though, bake something. I will make a cake for the cake walk.
“The storm, it came up strong, shook the trees, and blew away our fears.”
As it turns out, she likes the fun fair. And she seems to like us, too, though it may have taken some time. She likes the sunsets, the university town, and the fields of Northern Illinois.
“Blackbirds, backwards, forwards, and fall…”
I can’t understand what I didn’t know in the first place, but I can look hard, in every direction, until I see you.
Song lyrics from R.E.M., “Half a World Away”