Sunny Funny Fair.


I guess I had normal kid thoughts and joys, too. While my overall worldview skewed dark, there were certain events for which I rallied with the best of them. The confusing part is what so often followed.

My elementary school, Julia Ward Howe Elementary, had this annual fundraiser called the Sunny Funny Fair. I imagine it wasn’t all that unique, but I believed it to be the culmination of all that was good in the world: games, prizes, junk food, face painting, spin art…it was a day of pure delight.

The highlights for me were the "Cake Walk," much like musical chairs, but with the chance to be awarded with a whole freakin’ cake, and "Go Fish," which featured the opportunity to win real, live goldfish! It was very hard for me to fall asleep the night before the fair. I was so pumped.

Almost every year, I won a fish. I usually ate too much junk and I always came away with bags of stupid, cheapo prizes like super balls and squirt guns. I also remember the year it rained buckets and the fair was moved into the gymnasium and swiftly rebranded as the Soggy Foggy Fair. It wasn’t quite as amazing as the outdoor version, but it still beat a regular day by a mile.

But long before the goldfish croaked and the plastic toys broke, I would feel an emptiness that I feared would swallow my heart.

It was the sort of letdown that almost made me wish the fair had never happened in the first place. It made me long for something else to be on the horizon looming just as big and bright if not bigger and brighter—I wanted, no, I needed—something sunnier and funnier. 

I would notice that feeling again and again in my life. “The Big Letdown,” I called it in my head. Regular life wasn’t enough for me to get up for. I required a holiday—a special this or an exciting that—just to feel like there was a reason to show up. 

What was the point of just a Tuesday? Plain, random days strung together like cheap candy necklaces didn’t cut it for me. What was the rest of the world so damn happy about?

My “what’s the point” thinking was pervasive even when I was a little person. And, it lingered. All that energy and effort in the exhausting pursuit of who knows what for God knows why or how long…

I remember feeling like if there was a point, then I was missing it.