Deep inside every adult who watched the Colorado balloon story unfold is a little kid who, at the very least, suspected the whole thing would end just like it did. Because deep inside every adult is a little kid who, somewhere along the way, got in trouble, ran, and hid.
The road to adulthood is riddled with trouble-with moments when your conscience is telling you to go tell your parents while the rest of you screams you should go run and hide.
It's an instinct as old as the human race itself. What's the first thing Adam and Eve did after biting the apple? They ran and hid.
In my brothers' and my case, it was the time we used the roof of Grandpa Smith's new Buick Roadmaster convertible for a trampoline. We were three, five, and six. We fell through. When we climbed out, we ran and hid.
In the case of a friend of mine and his brother it was a grass fire they accidentally set. They were four and six. They ran and hid for awhile, then sidled home from the other direction. News of the fire had preceded them. The smoky smell gave them away.
So you grow up and have kids of your own. You think the first one is perfect for a year or two. Then he does something, and he runs and hides. And you learn not to expect perfect, but just to be happy with the kid you've got.
Sitting there, watching cable news people chase that balloon across the clear blue Colorado sky, the adult in you may not have known if the kid was on board. But kid in you-the shifty little devil you used to be-was hoping against hope that he'd just run and hid.
You could imagine how he must have felt... Alone in the dark... Just him and his big problem. You could imagine because you'd been there yourself.
And when they found him in a box in the attic, your inner kid said, "Told you so." And the adult in you just wanted to give the balloon kid a hug.