Kite-flying was not to be my thrill ride

The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

– Eden Phillpotts

 

We all have unique skill sets, but mine has gaps.

I cannot, for example, wink my right eye. My left? No problem, but not the right.

I no longer whistle well. A baseball in the mouth in my late teens took out two teeth – and a talent for trilling.

And I can’t fly a kite.

The last one really bothers me this time of year, because this is kite season.

March is the month that often reminds us of the childishly simple pastime.

March is the month of winds and breezes and days of staring toward the clouds and watching a colorful bit of paper, stretched on a frame of the lightest of wood, as it defies gravity.

When you are a child you wished you could defy gravity.

You wished you weren’t always so close to the ground while adults were so tall.

You wished you could fly.

And when you realized you couldn’t, well, a kite was the next best thing. Unless, of course, you couldn’t get one off the ground.

Enter me. I was on the wrong side of the Wright Brothers, a gravity gremlin who kept things grounded, usually in spectacular ways.

“Run faster,” my father would suggest casually.

“Run slower?” he would suggest after watching me drag a kite through a series of backyards and return with it mangled and broken.

He was good to help me because he was good at kite flying.

He could take one outside and get it up in no time.

“Here,” he’d then say, and let me hold it.

It was the same thing he’d do when we went fishing and I couldn’t catch one. He’d wait until he got a nibble and then, success within reach, hand his pole to me while he checked the tackle box and I reeled in the catch.

When it came to kites, I suspect, he also helped me because I often used his old neckties for kite tails, and I was at an age in which deciding what was an “old” tie and what was a “new” tie was still a mystery.

He said he would help me if I stayed out of his closet.

But the lesson was never learned.

Even when we took a kite out to Stone Mountain, back in the days when it was a big rock surrounded by pine trees and not a theme park.

Up there, halfway to heaven with the Atlanta skyline rising to the west, and the wind whipping so wild the birds flew at an odd angle, I couldn’t do it.

I defied defying gravity.

The best I could do was run fast for 10 or 20 yards while the kite behind me did some wild cartwheels before crashing, smashing, dashing into the dirt.

Some things are not to be.

I devoted my efforts to journalism, where soar and sore share few similarities.

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