While passing the Kamo River today, I saw school children running along the dirt path, tugging cotton strings and bright, colorful kites behind them. There were turtles and stingrays, an octopus, and jets, their bright ribbons flashing like neon rainbows under the cobalt sky.
It brought me back. Back to memories I rarely remember; memories so disjointed I recall them in third person. Do you have any memories like that? Memories where you see yourself as if you aren’t really connected to the event itself? Maybe it has something to do with the corrosive quality of recalling long forgotten truths; renovating them, and fixing all the little holes that the story needs to have filled. I’m not sure, and I digress.
My father always loved kites. Still does. In the old days, he had a collection of kites that he’d fly during the windy seasons in the south. There’s only one I can recall with any real clarity. The others remain puffs of smoke in my memory.
The Dragon Kite.
It was a monster of a kite. Three times longer than my dad (and my dad is a tall guy), this kite required at least two people to get it airborne. The ferociousness of its face begged for freedom, always, gasping and gnawing at the trunk of the car until at last the gulf winds fluttered through its paper scales.
Once in the air, it was like a puppy off the leash: diving, dancing, challenging the wind in games of agility and elegance. It sneered at the tether on its nose, jaws always seeming to try and snap at it, before its coils rolled into the next dive, a feng shui rainbow of ambition.
I loved that kite.
One morning, while my dad was at work, my older brother loaded the car with The Dragon Kite and my siblings, and we all went to the beach. It was a cloudy day; nothing spectacular, except for the wind. It bellowed and brushed the sea in great strokes of might. The heavens clamored; the Dragon answered.
It took me, my brother, and my younger sister forty minutes to get the dragon airborne. The gusts greeted him with gailful kisses; his tail snapped. The tether became a hook in his snout–it was a fight for freedom. The Dragon Kite roared soundlessly above us, swirling violently in infinity knots.
…and like that, the rope slipped out of my brother’s hands.
We, all three of us, ran desperately after the spool, which bounced and tumbled across the beach almost in tease, before it was thrown into the sky.
Shaking, fearing what had just happened to my father’s prized kite, my older brother whispered, “It’s alright. It’ll come down again.”
Cumbersome as the monster was, The Dragon Kite showed no inclination towards Earth. It laughed, kicking its skull back to flaunt the slack noose about its nose. The winds pulled it higher and higher, up into the embrace of the clouds, and we watched, stupefied, as The Dragon Kite flew out across the water and into the horizon, until with a blink, the only speck that remained disappeared as well.
Chinese dragons are considered celestial beings. I like to pretend that on that day, our Dragon, its spirit unable to be contained any longer by paper and twine, broke free, and returned to its proper place–in the sky, tumbling free through the clouds, laughing with the great mirth of its expression. I’m almost positive that it did.
My brother, unfortunately, got grounded.