Ode to Bubbles


When I got to Denver, my buddy’s uncle greeted us and mentioned that a package had come in the mail for us from my mom. I laughed when I opened the box to see push pops, bubble gum, a yo-yo, marbles, and a large bottle of bubbles tucked beneath the essential snacks. What on earth am I going to do with this stuff? I chuckled and closed the box. 

It wasn’t until we went on our hike to Phelps Lake at Grand Tetons National Park that I pulled the bubbles out. I was having a particularly hard day that day. My heart was heavy and hurting and when I reached into the box to pull out a snack after the long hike, I saw the bottle sitting there waiting to be played with. Heading for my Cliff bar, I redirected my reach for the bubbles, unscrewed the cap, and started waving the wand to let the wind give life to the joy that I needed. It was so simple, yet seeing all the soapy spheres dance around me brought a smile and lifted ever so slightly the heaviness I had been feeling. Shortly after a couple walked by and I overhead them cooing at me playing with the bubbles. It sparked a conversation about our journey on the road and ODE. They were a bit older than we, but they still enjoyed seeing the bubbles.

Yesterday we explored Yellowstone. Arriving at Artist’s Point (thinking we were heading to the Great Prismatic Spring lol), I again reached for the bubbles. Despite the stronger winds, I was able to get a few bubbles to form before the soap splashed back in my face... and probably a few tourists too. But I didn’t care. If I were 5 years old, would the adult be upset if I had accidentally splashed bubble soap in their direction? Probably not. So, on I tried to form bubbles amidst the sight-seeing crowd. Again I heard the cooing from those around me, while also receiving some concerned glances that I was far too old to be behaving so childishly.

And now today, I sit in the passenger seat blowing bubbles into my feat relaxing on the dashboard. Why is it that I love bubbles so much? 

They remind me of a child's spirit.

They are silly, carefree, fun, and timeless. There is no purpose to blowing bubbles other than for the fun of blowing bubbles. They bring me to the now because there is no preserving them; they pop when they are ready. They float aimlessly to higher and higher heights. They capture the light in the room and reflect a rainbow of colors. 


This is what children do. They soak up all the bright spots of the world, and give it right back through their most colorful reflection. All of this reminds me of the time when my Goddaughter and I bonded over bubbles sitting on the stone steps leading to my back patio. She was 4 and I was 20, yet one thing was for sure... we both loved blowing bubbles. We sat on that stone step together for a half hour giggling as we watched our bubbles of all sizes float away with the breeze. I see a lot of myself when I look at her, yet I also look up to her in many ways despite being more than a decade her elder. She reminds me of an even more fun-loving, free-spirited version of me that I actively work towards reviving every day.

I didn’t realize it when I opened the care package and saw these toys, but I understand now, (whether my mother intended this or not) that I needed to feel like a child again. I needed toys to play with just for the sake of playing. I needed frivolous activities that serve no ulterior purpose other than to be present and enjoy the fun of the moment. My mom was either haphazardly trying to fill a box, or knew just the perfect medicine for her baby girl with a broken heart. Either way I am thankful.

- Kahrin

Katie O'Connel