Summer’s lease is all too short. For the first two decades of my life, these bittersweet lights harbored an ending.
Hay bales were picked up and packed away in a dusty barn, but a week down the road was football practice and the musty classroom.
On a few acres of historic ground, the fair offered one last breath of freedom. Taverns and hotdogs at the church stands. A once-a-year helping of kettle corn and cotton candy. Carnies slapping twenty-ton spinny rides together lickety-split, meticulous in their placement of stereo speakers, flinging metal into the sky.
We won stretched pop bottles and mirrors with decals. Biker posters and rock star posters and funny wall signs we didn’t show our parents until the next day. Tractor pulls and show animals. Art on display.
Music! Tanya Tucker was 13 or 14 years old when I saw her. Delta Dawn forever!
One year, one of the midway barkers showed us a contract. Sign up, he said. Put your mark on the line and be one of us for a year.
How close did we come?
And when it all pulled out on Monday, we got to keep the stomach aches and heart aches and trinkets. Best of all, we got to keep the memories.