I had to buy a new umbrella yesterday. The one I was fighting with in the whipping wind had inverted itself half a dozen times after only two blocks.

There is a tiny Chinese shop near my work, filled to the brim with all sorts of nick-nacks, pottery, Asian foods, teas and ephemera. the aisles are so narrow, you have to slide down them sideways to explore the depths, and when you walk in, there is an odd mixture of plastic off-gassing, Chinese spicing, and dust that hits your nose. In the window are quirky ceramic figurines and folk art tin dolls staring out, the best seats in the house. At the door, you can pick out a belt from the rack. Nothing is expensive, and there is clutter, filled to the brim with potential treasure.

I used to love going to this shop with my parents when I was little, the wonders in every nook and cranny an entire world of endless possibilities to a youngster. Blue and red-glazed ceramic tea sets shon like jewels, plastic wrap on ramen noodles crackled when you held them in your hand. It was always an adventure.

I spied the umbrella at the door out of the corner of my eye as I stomped past, irritated and frustrated. I halted, turned around, went in, and bought it on the spot, emphatically stuffing the smaller one away in my pack, the cashier nodding sagely at my wisdom of puchasing a bigger, sturdier model. Eleven bucks. I didn’t care that it was half my height and had a huge steel tip. It really didn’t matter that when unfolded it was the diameter of a golf umbrella. What made me pick it out of bin with all the other off black selections were the colours. Red, yellow, blue and green sections, neatly swirled and corded against the handle.

When I unfurled it outside, fuzzy reminders of my Kindergarten and Grade One memories came flying forward.The sound of shrieks of laughter, the rustle of the material on our hands. The anticipation of gym class when the bright bag was dragged out from the gym locker.

My umbrella was a parachute

I remembered it all. We would stand around it, each clutching a tiny length of the edge, all fidgeting and impatient to begin flailing with all our might to make the parachute come alive. The teachers would toss balls into the middle for us to launch into the air, we would all run underneath, shrieking and giggling. We would lift it up and fold underneath it, a circle of colour-tinted faces, wiggling our bums to make sure we didn’t fall off the edge and make the dome fall. if you got picked to go in the middle while everyone shook the material around you, all you could hear was thunder, all you felt was special.

And just like that, my frustration and irritation were gone, and I was walking down the street with an old, happy memory, and a new umbrella. ♥


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