Grocery Store Parking Lot Carnival

Ferris Wheel Pictures Grocery Store Parking Lot Carnival

SW 29th and May Avenue | March 17, 2012 | Photo by Jennifer | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


I’m drinking in the forgiveness that life provides…
From Springsteen and Book of Dreams

Tragedy and Moments of Unworldy Bliss

Last week, Bruce Springsteen told a crowd at SXSW in Austin that life is tragedy broken by moments of unworldly bliss that make that tragedy bearable.It’s Friday afternoon, the beginning of Spring Break. Robert and I are take inventory of our finances to see if we have enough money to take the kids on a quick trip to Great Wolf Lodge. With food and gas and a two night stay, we’ll be out $1,500.

There’s no way we can do it. We just forked out $3,000 for property taxes. Then I notice on Facebook that my friend Josh has taken his wife and boys to Turks and Caicos Islands, a place I only know about because of the Miss Universe Pageant. I feel horrible. I should plan better.

By 5:30, we all sit around staring at each other and just when it looks like it’s going to be an impossibly long nine days, I announce that we’re going on adventure. We climb in the car and head south across the Western Avenue bridge. We’re going to visit the Mexican food truck, but just so you know, I’ve gone out hoping. I ask everyone what flavor of Jarritos (Här-REE`toess) they want. That’s JA-RRITOS if you’re a Gringo and don’t know Spanish.

So, we pack up our Mexican sodas, pineapple, mandarin and strawberry, and head west down SW 29th.  I think Woodson Park on May Avenue has a footbridge over the highway. If I feel safe or brave we’ll cross it. The kids will get a kick out of it.

As we drive down this barrio of Mexican bakeries and used car lots, metallic fringe chattering in the wind, I drink in the culture. Tiny seeds pushing through asphalt; dreams  for greater life expectancy.

We pass Agnew and make our way toward May, when I see something shiny up ahead. It’s blue light bulbs on a green Ferris Wheel in the middle of a parking lot. A total relic of my Generation X childhood. I thought grocery store carnivals died the same year parents stopped letting their kids play outside ’til the streetlamps came on.

I think, God, my prayers have been answered.

We hop out and shove down our burritos and Här-REE`toess. We buy 48 tickets and ride bumper cars and the carousel. We slide down the giant FUN SLIDE on burlap sacks and we all get sick on the Tilt-a-Whirl.

This is the unworldly bliss.

We let our 14-year-old ride the wicked zipper, a caged contraption spinning on an axle. I must be insane, and I wonder, if Oklahoma does away with income tax, will there be enough money to inspect carnival rides? My worries, unconfirmed like water beneath Jupiter’s icy moon, chilling and close to the surface.

I drink in this cotton candy pageant of milk jug games, balloons and corn dogs. My kids say it’s just like Disneyland, and I wonder why did I spend $4,000 taking them to Anaheim last summer? All  I had to do was find a cheap carnival in a grocery store parking lot.

But, nothing is ever perfect. On the way home, my 6-year-old, sulks because the last ride he took before our tickets ran out was the rockets. “That was a baby ride!” he says. And my four-year-old reminds me that I promised to take them to the park.

THAT WAS A PARK, I say. She rolls her eyes. I remember that article I read about Generation X, the most neglected generation over-parenting Generation Z, the rudest generation. How on earth did we get here?

Soon, she’s asleep in bed. In the morning, she rubs her eyes and whispers in her waking-up-voice Thank you, Mommy for taking us to the carnibull.

And, I drink in the forgiveness that life provides.

Here is the link to my first three commentaries on KOSU Radio.


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