Monday, June 28, 2010

the story of the gnome

One afternoon the tall one and I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. We wandered towards Greenlake and I don't remember now which route we took but suddenly the skies opened up and rain began to pour down on us. We made it to Tangle Town for some dinner and yummy beer and on the way back home passed a cute little house that had many little garden gnomes outside on the patio.

We had been discussing our Europe trip over dinner and all the sudden the idea came to me:

"Let's Amelie someone!"

If you've never seen the french film Amelie...well, then you need to run out right now to your local video store (do they still have those?), download from your favorite bit torrent site, or whatever it is that you do to watch movies these days and WATCH IT! Go ahead, I'll wait.

Now for those of you who have seen it you know that the main character Amelie Poulain steals her father's garden gnome and hands it off to her friend who is a stewardess. Her friend takes pictures of the gnome in all the world cities she visits and then sends the polaroid back in the mail addressed to Amelie's father. The point is to get her father to follow his life long dream of travel.

The tall one and I were giddy over the idea and decided that we would give it a trial run with our trip to Hawaii. We went back and forth on deciding if we wanted to borrow a gnome from someone we knew or if we wanted to go back to the original house that gave us the idea and take one of theirs. In the end we decided to go back to the house.

Our idea was this:
*Steal a gnome from a stranger
*Pack it up tightly and take it to Hawaii
*Photograph the gnome with us where ever we go; snorkeling, hiking, etc.
*Send a postcard to the owners, writing as the gnome, with a picture saying "be home soon"
*Return the gnome after a couple weeks, so the postcard has time to get there, and leave pictures of the trip next to him.

For me the idea of doing this to a stranger was very appealing because we would never know how it affected them. I imagined them stepping out onto their porch and noticing the gnome was gone, thinking it's gone for ever, then receiving a postcard in the mail from the gnome postmarked Hawaii, then going crazy asking all their friends if they knew anyone who had traveled there and then suddenly they walk out onto their patio one morning and there the gnome is. It's just such a beautiful thing to do to someone. It brings a sense of adventure to their lives, breaks up the monotony of life, and creates a great story to tell. And the best part is they get to have all of that and we don't share in it. It's all theirs.


A couple days before our trip to Hawaii we still had not retrieved the gnome and we were slightly worried that we may have misjudged it's size. Finally the tall one headed out after work, dressed in dark clothing and humming special agent music, to grab the gnome. Luckily the little guy was the perfect size, unfortunately he was cracked quite a bit and fragile so we knew right away we couldn't take him on our Europe trip and most likely he wouldn't get out of our hotel room in Hawaii.


Nonetheless we wrapped him in towels, put him in my suitcase and took the journey to Hawaii. He made it just fine and in true island style we got him leid. He decided to hang out on the patio of the hotel with his bottle of Jack and watch the sun set over Diamond Head or ogle the surfer girls on the beach for the remainder of his vacation.

gnome with jack
post card

I had purchased a POGO printer for my camera and the little prints are actually stickers so we took one of the gnome from the balcony and mailed it off to the owners with a note that said "Couldn't take the rain anymore. Be home soon, aloha!"

We enjoyed the rest of our trip and as the day neared for us to go home we decided that the gnome needed a companion. He needed a hula girl.

new love

Unfortunately we didn't have the time to get him one before we left so we headed home empty handed. The gnome had nothing to show for his trip except a pretty bad hangover and a bunch of pictures of places he couldn't go because he was so fragile. The tall one knew that wouldn't do so he visited the Hawaii store in Wallingford and selected a lovely girl for the gnome. We weren't sure if they would hit it off...but once we introduced them it was love at first sight.


We finally returned the gnome and his new girl a few weeks after we returned from our trip. I went with him this time, both of us humming secret agent music, and bid farewell to our new friend and his love.

After telling everyone the story of the gnome we were asked if we had driven by the house after we dropped them off to see what had happened to them. We actually hadn't so one evening we drove by and did not see the gnome. The hula girl was where the tall one had left her, but the gnome was no where to be found.

I was a little sad. Had we gone through all of that for someone who didn't appreciate it? Didn't have a sense of humor? Did we piss them off? Did they think we had put a camera in the gnome? Gah, I didn't know!

I've put off telling this story specifically for those reasons. Because I just didn't know the outcome of the gnome. But then again, wasn't that the point of taking the gnome from a stranger? For it to be their story?

Then today...the tall one sent me this picture:

gnome home

And if you look close you will see the gnome, still wearing his lei, with his love flanking one side of the patio and he on the other. This made my week :) Thank you, tall one, for sharing in my adventurous nature and of course; thank you gnome for giving us our own story to tell.

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