“‘i’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.” -dr. suess
i got word last week that vancouver holds an annual fair. they call it the PNE here, but i just call it the fair. it’s exactly like the one i grew up going to back in MD. dirt, farris wheels, cotton candy, manure smells, petting zoos, pig races! and august. they both take place in august. however, august in MD is a different story than august in vancouver. i went in black jeans and a black top and was totally comfortable. those from MD knows that is a death sentence outfit to go to the fair in. i have to say, i enjoyed the lack of humidity at the fair this year.
there is something about the fair that makes me happy and sad at the same time. it brings back so many memories for me. every year we expected to go to the fair, it wasn’t even a question. and multiple times throughout the week, too. a couple of years i entered photos into a contest, and even won some ribbons. i had never felt so proud. it’s a part of my child hood, included in how i would describe my years growing up and what made them special. if we wanted to risk our lives on the squeaky, torn down again and put up again carnival rides, we’d ask my dad to take us. if we wanted to see the sheep and cows and pigs and bunnies, we’d ask my mom. there is a picture from over 20 years ago of my mom and siblings and i, standing by the car in the mud and grass parking lot getting ready to brave the heat and crowds with my cousins and mom’s sister. most of us have the bleach blonde hair that theo now dons, and my mom and her sister wear jean shorts and fluffy hair and backpacks carrying a kid. it was sticky and sweaty and, now i know, stressful at times for my mom. but it was so much fun, from the overpriced and under-nourishing food, to the disappointment every year at not getting picked by the very stout man running the pig races to represent a pig, to the smells and the colorful people and tents full of advertised hot tubs. i could never get enough of the fair.
it’s been years since i’ve been. so you can imagine my excitement at finding a replica here in vancouver. and what’s more, i got to take evelyn and theo. i talked it up all the day before, and evelyn could.not.wait. she wanted to see all the animals and milk the cows herself and get cotton candy. which we didn’t, because we have gotten it in the past and she actually doesn’t even like it. the idea is more exciting than the reality. but what’s worse is i actually love cotton candy, so i would’ve ended up eating the entire thing myself. so we settled for mini donuts. fresh and soft and sugary and amazing. i had strategically left the treats for last, as that would distract them as we moved towards the exit. but i un-strategically ran out of money by then. the fair eats your money. and quickly.$4 for 12 mini donuts but i only had $3 in change so the dark haired girl took pity on me as she could see with my eyes that if i didn’t get these kids their promised donuts i’d be dragging out two screaming and disappointed children. thankfully it didn’t come to that, and theo was delighted; he pulled one out and held it up in front of his face between his thumb pointer finger and said, “baby!” in a squeaky little voice. yes, theo, a baby donut! and then he devoured it, sugar painting his face in the process.
we did all the things i did as a kid. watched another stout man (but not as stout as the man in MD) run the pig races, complete with cowboy boots and hat and dungarees and ducks for the first “pig” race. and just like me, evelyn was disappointed she did not get picked to represent a pig. she raised her hand straight and taut and shouted “me! me!” but we were tucked in a corner and he didn’t even see us. theo meanwhile was trying to peek into the cage where the pigs were being kept and pet them. and then he ran off to go look at roosters. this is where the stress came in a bit. but i didn’t lose either child so it was a success. when the roosters crowed he made the funniest face, he thought it was the greatest thing ever. and then he spotted tractor row and was momentarily in heaven. i told him to go ahead and climb! because in MD you could, but then i saw the big red signs saying “NO CLIMBING!” and had to eat my words. luckily he was in awe just staring at them. ev loved the horses, and wanted to ride them. she ran around saying “look mom!” over and over at each new sight and smell and sound. that’s the thing about the fair, complete and utter over stimulation of the senses. from one thing to the next, and as fast as you can! it tired them out nicely. i tried to avoid the games and rides area, but of course they spotted the lights and various contraptions going up high in the sky and down again, and so i mentally prepared myself to take them on a ride or two. i knew i’d be done after that. theo was so overwhelmed he just walked very slowly, mouth open a little, not saying anything except for the occasional “whoa” quietly as the swings rose in the air or when he spotted a giant stuffed animal in the game booths that you can never win. we rode a train and the teacups and and they laughed and smiled and yelled and my mommy’s heart swelled just a little more than usual. and then we called it a day.
we ran through the grass towards the car as the sun was setting and i couldn’t help but be so happy. happy that i could give them this memory. happy that i have those memories myself, stored away. and happy memories are always twinged with a bit of sadness, or at least nostalgia, because of the fact that it’s a memory, it’s no longer here. i guess it also means growing up. but, “if growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree [or go to the fair], i won’t grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me.” (peter pan).