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Devil Incarnate! Why Welcome Home Balloons Haunt Me


It’s the day you got back from Cabo spring break, and you already got into a fight with mom. You sprint upstairs, run into your room, and scream, “you’re a fucking cocksucker, mom!” as you slam the door behind you. The thrust of the door disrupts the wind patterns in your room—or lack thereof—and suddenly, you feel a presence looming over your shoulder, breathing down your neck. 

Your heart beats in your ears; you see its shadow projected on the door ahead; your mouth goes dry. You are not alone. You remain still—silent—while you turn your neck slowly; your eyes widen as you see the horror behind you —WELCOME HOME.

Ah, the welcome home balloon. Some love em; some crave em. I, however, despise this gesture. 

The “Welcome Home” balloon is the second most passive-aggressive of the celebratory balloons, second only to the “You’re Pregnant!” balloon when gifted inappropriately. From the moment I receive a welcome home balloon, the 4 stage process of being subtly yet viciously attacked every waking moment of every waking day commences. 

I will pop you through this tumultuous process, but heed this warning: you will never love a welcome home balloon again. 

Stage One: Reminder from Helium.

You cried on the plane ride home flicking through pictures from a time where you were thriving—where you felt like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love, only you were Blackout, Dehydrated, and Too Young to Relate to That Movie. Tan and happy? Relaxed? Not anymore! WELCOME HOME.

Stage Two: Too Many Strings Attached.

Why does one balloon have four strings attached? Why does one string whisper “work,” the other shouts “you’re broke,” another screams out “remember that “diet”? Lol!”, and the other sings, “you should probably get that checked out.”? Why are the strings getting longer? Why are they wrapping around my ankles? Why am I levitating? Why are the strings bringing my face nose to nose with the face of their host? WELCOME HOME.

Stage Three: Full of Hot Air.

Normal life sucks! You start to second-gas your dull existence. You’re angry you can’t do body shots at 11:00 a.m., and you’re sick of this fucking balloon reminding you of everything you lost—everything you were. Drinking pina Coladas just isn’t the same when you’re in class surrounded by fundamental physics…or classic literature…or chem lab—shit, you’re drunk. WELCOME HOME.

Stage Four: Deflated. 

It’s been three days since your return. The tan is fading; the tattoo isn’t. You are no longer walking through life being welcomed home… you are just home. The deflated balloon, sunken by life’s trials and tortures, can only creepily trail in your wake by your knees. It is weak—it is taunting you. “Welcome home,” it whispers. “Welcome home” follows every minor inconvenience. “Welcome home” follows your every step. Finally, you take a scissor to the parasite and watch its power over you vanish into thin air. Your mom saw from the other room, and you realize that was a really weird moment… but you are free and fall to your knees in triumph. 

So, the next time a “Welcome Home” balloon stares you down in a CVS, Party City, or you just have a library “It” moment, hold your head up high and say, “not today, cocksucker.” If you are plagued with the misfortune of receiving a Welcome Home balloon, send your “gifter” this article, brace yourself for the journey ahead, and know you will come out of this experience changed. 

If you get a call from inside the house, it’s the balloon. WELCOME HOME.