I casually toss the plastic sleeve containing my folded kite on top of the picnic basket. One of the rods falls out and slips behind the baseboard heating. Thankfully, I am able to retrieve it and think how glad I am that I notice it before we get to the beach!
My husband and I are headed to Montauk, one of our favorite escapes to celebrate our anniversary, and I’m pleased I remember the kite!
Years ago, as newlyweds we discovered “our” hotel and beach. We’ve been going for years, always off season when it’s a bit chilly and less crowded. While packing the car my husband comments, with a smile, about the kite.
On our drive out, we recall a favorite memory:
It’s a very windy day, perfect for flying a kite and watching it dip and dive, flapping in the sky. We keep warm in our matching Brigadoon tour coats and attempt to get our kite in flight.
About 50 yards set back from the ocean, are three vintage cottages. In the picture window of one sit two older gentlemen, warm and comfortable, at a table with their morning coffee watching us. I feel an immediate rapport with these men.
I sense they must be old friends perhaps from college, or maybe they were neighbors raising their children side by side, coaching little league. I envision their wives chatting happily in the kitchen making a big, lazy morning feast. I feel their happiness.
Although I’m a big fan of the wind, this day it seems to be hampering our ability to fly the kite. I am aware the gentlemen are watching us throughout our challenge. I can hear them in my mind coaching us, reminiscing themselves about their kite adventures and tips on the best way to get a kite in the air.
In solidarity with the two men’s analytical thinking, my husband realizes our kite needs a heavier tail. We begin to look for a rock or a shell, and I feel the support of our audience as they sip their coffee. We find a rock, but how to attach it?
The universe replies, graciously pointing us in the direction of an old piece of duct tape, still willing to be of service, lying in the sand. Within moments our kite is flying high and the men in the window are all smiles and nodding with approval. It is a favorite memory. I felt so connected to everything in my world.
On the first morning of our most recent visit, we go for a walk on the beach and I carry the kite in its package. As we walk, another memory surfaces:
I am in 5th grade and our science teacher has given us an assignment to make a kite. So, in other words, my dad makes a kite and I watch. He uses flexible small wooden dowels, string, and I choose striped wrapping paper for the sail.
When it is done, it looks impressive. So much so, that at school when Susie DeMartino sees it, she grabs it from my hands, takes the kite line and starts running aimlessly spewing joy and laughter all over the soccer field.
I don’t see that though because I’m too busy listening to a voice in my head telling me to be careful with the kite, it’s delicate, you don’t want to break it, which is of course exactly what happens.
We decide on a place to fly the kite and I take it out of the bag to assemble. My excitement takes a hit when I discover one of the two rods that make up the cross spar is missing even though I thought I had salvaged it from behind the baseboard heater. Staying positive I give it a go. Aerodynamics? Who needs it!
My husband’s expression doesn’t look too promising and neither does the kite. The unicorn’s head and horn on our once little girl’s kite can be seen but her mane and neck are flopping.
I couldn’t tell you the technical reason why the kite won’t fly because I didn’t learn anything in science class that day in 5th grade, but it’s pretty apparent the unicorn is grounded and I’m ready to give up. Lucky for me, I married my husband. “Why do you give up so soon?” he says.
We look for and find a thin stick, but it isn’t strong enough and snaps. A stronger one fits into the kite’s small pockets on each side, this time making a strong cross spar. The unicorn is proudly displayed now but she still won’t fly.
We need a weight for the tail just like we did years ago. My husband takes the tail of the kite, ties it around a shell, and up Pegasus flies towards the heavens at which point I start to cry. It is the best anniversary gift, and we stand with our arms around each other watching the kite soar.
Susie DeMartino had it right all along. The voice inside my head that day in school preached perfectionism, caution before joy. I felt fear that the kite would break, and it did. It was a self-prophecy; I created it. Thankfully, I was presented with not one, but two opportunities to learn this lesson.
I have now proved twice that if you have the joy to fly a kite, why do you need a perfect one? The universe provided everything we needed to get those kites in the air because both times my husband and I were relaxed, happy, and childlike.
So many people including myself often have it backwards. The joy doesn’t come once everything is perfect. The joy comes first… then everything is perfect.