The Balloon Story

I met my husband in an Italian restaurant. He was with friends, I was at the bar waiting on mine.
He walked by, we saw each other and it began.
A whole love life and marriage starts with the very first glance, first words, first smiles.
The next day I ran into the owner of that restaurant. She told me what a great guy he was and that I didn’t know how lucky I was. She said” fate was kind to me.”
I had always thought so.
But in regard to him, I had no idea then how profound those words would be.

When Michael and I went to Vermont we had an idea we might elope.
We didn’t make any plans, take rings, do anything remotely wedding related.
We just went because I’ve never seen New England in the fall and it was on my bucket list. So when we get there, after a myriad of small disasters, everything just fell into place. We found rings, got a license, but not one of the Justice of the Peace called back or were available. That’s where the balloon idea came about.
The woman at the front desk of our hotel suggested we call Jeff, a master balloonist who was also a middle school teacher and ordained. He called back. Now keep in mind, we have both been married before and are tremendously scared about round two. But no where near the level of terrified that we are of heights. This is why we decide to do it. Kill two fears with one action. We make the arrangements for sunrise the next day and are feeling giddy with ourselves for what we are going to conquer with this plan. My God were we naive. We wake up to temperatures in the 20’s. It’s late October so one would think this is not newsworthy except for the two of us that didn’t pack coats, scarves, gloves or really anything warm. It’s beyond cold. It’s so cold the balloon won’t take off at the scheduled place. We have to drive to the school where Jeff teaches and use the soccer fields. It’s a very involved process to get a huge balloon full of enough air it flies carrying the three of us and another couple that are celebrating their 25th wedding
anniversary and will be our witnesses. And it’s not warming up, at all.
The driver of the truck that will follow us lends me his coat and gloves. I gratefully take them. Jeff decides to do our vows on the way up so we can have the rest of the flight to enjoy the view and soak up the beauty of all the turning leaves. The burner is so close I was afraid my head was going to catch fire. It’s too loud to talk when it’s on, so our vows are done with sporadic stops to climb higher. I see all the things inside the basket that I am afraid of touching, like the gas lines and I notice the hole on the floor. Not a big one, but enough of a hole that I start to panic and then he drops my ring. It’s a heavy platinum band and it hits with a thud. Jeff, says not to worry and proceeds to bend down and pick it up which causes the rest of us to shift and the basket does to. This is right about the time we stop breathing, literally. I have no words for how uncomfortable this is getting. He grabs it and we are married and we look out. It just got worse. We are at 2,700 hundred feet and climbing. I bury my head in Michaels chest. I cannot look. I cannot stand. I cannot believe we are in this thing, hurdling through the air. This is the dumbest idea I have ever had! The fog comes so fast and so thick that the tracker truck loses us. Jeff starts to worry and asks us all to get to the sides and look out for steeples and power lines. He is lowering us and flying blind. OMIGAWD! I am frozen on the outside and panicked on the inside. I cannot move. The other couple is loving this and taking pictures! Really? Really?
I am convinced we are all going to die.
We land in someones back yard.
It’s early on a Friday morning and they are on their way to work.
They have their coffee in travel mugs.
It’s a ballooning tradition to finish a flight with a toast of Champagne. Okay.
So, we made it.
But, we will never do it again.

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