Sunday, January 3, 2016

Biggish adventures from smallish quests

This is why it’s so hard for me to get through my piles of reading matter: there is always something interesting. So if I just toss them before perusing, I’ll miss out. What if I had missed the Signals catalog with Light Up Balloons? I would never have heard of Light Up Balloons!

We were launching the New Year with friends over and suddenly I wanted Light Up Balloons. In this snowless Anchorage winter, life is very, very dark. I really wanted Light Up Balloons.

But sudden isn’t how catalogs can deliver so I went on a quest. First stop, Party World. They didn’t have Light Up Balloons, but the woman there said she’d seen them at Dollar Zone. (pause for a yippee)

Now things were getting really exciting! My book club had read the book The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina HenrĂ­quez. The two star-crossed lovers, Mayor and Maribel, meet in a Dollar Tree Store. I had never heard of a Dollar Tree Store … but now I was getting to go to … well, one like it. I guess a Dollar Zone is like a Dollar Tree, but really, I wouldn’t know.

First Dollar Zone: no, they don’t have Light Up Balloons, but the woman there definitely knew they were at another Dollar Zone. She’d seen them. “Oh, but I think I’ll look around while I’m here.”
A Dollar Zone store is like going to a flea market of brand new things. Along the side, it’s party land. That’s where the balloons are and all sorts of decorations. In another section are the soaps and shampoos and hair doodads. Then there’s the wall of kitchen gadgets and plastic things.

Do you remember the first time you ever went into a Costco? There’s a sort of nuttiness that took over – my sister, who lives in Berlin, said they had a word for it in German: Konsumterror. It’s about the pressure for materialism, like a consumer frenzy. All over Costco, that first time, we discovered what we called “orphans,” products that people had picked up and then abandoned later, when they came to their senses.

Well, I’m now immune to Konsumterror, both because I’m a Costco regular and because I’m in my Third Third and anti-acquisition. But I could see that the Dollar Zone was built to feed Konsumterror. Oh, oh! Could they have the little bottles I need for my raspberry liqueur? And my hairbrush handle broke; look at all these hairbrushes. And – not to be believed – they have the exact calendar I’d been looking for for only $1.75! (Too late, I’ve already written about that quest – but I’ll be back next year!)

I fought off any balloon-related Konsumterror by acknowledging that I had to blow up whatever I bought, so I only bought six. Inside the neck of the balloon is a little plastic thing: you click once for a fast blink, twice for a slow blink, and again for a solid light. It took one balloon for me to realize that it was hard to poke through an inflated balloon so I had to turn them on before blowing them up.
Tied on to the mailbox, they were everything I could have hoped for: bright, blinking, colored lights on a dark, dark night, welcoming friends to our home. Well, for a while. Only the blue and green stayed bright the length of the evening. Green is still going 24 hours later. The others are still pulsing but … dimly.

I feel such optimism for this new year. Two New Things right off the bat: Light Up Balloons and Dollar Zone. There’s no way to feel jaded when there are still discoveries to be made and adventures to be had. Adventure is a state of mind.

(PLUS, I figured out how to put Our Third Thirds on Facebook!)

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