Exchanging One Cotton Candy Machine for Another

by sophiakartsonis

“I feel like cotton candy: sugar and air. Squeeze me and I’d turn into a small sickly damp wad of weeping pinky-red.”
― Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale

I’ve always prided myself on loving what I love. I feel unusually fortunate to have my very family, fiancé,friends, vocation, and home.

Gratitude should be an inarguably wonderful thing. Gratitude is. Attachment. Intractability. Not so much.

A lot of changes are happening where I work. I have loved this job from the first class that I taught there. I adored my boss: the man who was dean when I was hired and above him, the president of the college. We had two secretaries for our department and both were treasured.  I had an office, a wall painted the perfect shade of dusk, my name on the door.

I am starting my sixth year at that job and everything that I just listed has changed. Every single thing.

I won’t lie. I have been seriously bummed out about it all.

Being in love with a job is a good thing.  In many ways, it is.  But being in love with every facet of anything is asking for trouble. I know this. It is the lesson that I have to learn and re-learn. That same river twice bit.


I am getting married in exactly one month. A few weeks ago, we had a big party at our house to pre-celebrate with our local friends as the wedding is to be out of state. We called it a hootenanny and planned for lots of music and all of the fare of a country fair. I painted a little flower peddler’s cart and planned to set up bags with cones of cotton candy in it.

I even bought a cotton candy machine. Some deluxe contraption that could turn even hard candy into candy floss. It was larger than I hoped and much more complicated.

The party took its own shape. There was no time for cotton candy. People kept wanting more and more of the baked feta appetizer and were mingling but never opted to play live music. It was a different great party than the one that I had planned.

I took the fancy cotton candy machine back the next day. It was unused and I planned to get a refund. Then I saw the simple machine I had wanted but not seen before and exchanged the contraption for a machine that just used sugar and made cotton candy.


I have always lived in the same part of town in every city in which I have lived.  College. Artsy. Gaslight. The names change but the neighborhoods bear certain similarities. Funky coffeeshops, bookstores, and the ability to walk to almost any business.

When we went househunting, I clung to the neighborhoods most like those where I had always rented.

My fiancé found a place far beyond the range we had agreed would be a fair traveling distance from where I work.  Twenty-four miles of driving each way.  An area of town that left our ultra-cool realtor cold. “Enjoy the McCain/Palin bumper stickers.” he told us.

The house had a certain charm to it, but it was the land all around that was unforgettable. I didn’t know how I would live so far away from neighborhoods that I saw as attached to more than a little of my self-image, but I agreed we should place an offer on this odd little country home.

It was a radical change in so many ways. It took me months to really adjust to all of the quiet. It was change that I would have resisted if not for the fact that someone that I love and admire had found something that made him happy and that he believed held the promise of many entirely new types of memories for the two of us. It was an adventure and it was predicated on how many major revisions we had made—two long-time single people—to accommodate all that sharing a life and a home requires.

That was two years ago.

Tonight we paddled out in our canoe across the reservoir that borders where we live, to the zoo where a blues concert played. It was nearing sundown and the water was calm enough to radiate whole stripes of amber, steel blue, silver and yes, cotton candy pink, so that it felt as if our little craft were inside of some kind of liquid rainbow. The whole effect of it was enchanting and I could not believe my luck in getting to be out in such a night, a flock of geese flying nearly with us, the moon casting on the water, fireworks off in the distant sky and the music at our backs. Every second of it changing as we paddled, every change bringing another kind of sweetness.