I left Tyler, Texas when I was 17. When I go back, it still feels like home. The trees are big and green. The oil pumps go up and down. The air is soft and sweet, and my friends are people I’ve known since kindergarten. Coincidentally Tyler also is where I saw my first sparkleball. I used to wonder if I imagined the whole thing. How it happened in 1993 when I was visiting my friend Trudy. How she was driving us to Dallas that night, and how she made the u-turn back to see what the crazy lights were on the side of the road that looked like mini ufo’s. How the man with the beer came out of the mobile home and sold us three sparkleballs. Years later, I got an email from a lady named Jolene, who’d read my story. She wrote:
I too found my first sparkle ball in Tyler Texas around 1993. Somebody was selling them on the corner of the Loop and south 155. It was the multi-colored, multi-function kind. It lasted for oh so many years but when the lights quit working I threw it away with tears in my eyes. I’ve gotten another one since then from someone selling them in a Walmart parking lot in Longview TX, but it didn’t last long and was only single function. I still miss my first one…no other decoration has brought me such peace and joy.
Trudy’s gone now. So is my first sparkleball. But when I do get back to Tyler, I always drive the same highway. I know I won’t find the man and his sparkleballs. But I like thinking about him, and how he’ll never know he touched the lives of me and Jolene. If that doesn’t make you think about the big picture and how strangers’ lives can intersect in mysterious ways, then it’s time to breathe deep and make yourself a sparkleball.