I never liked fireworks. I was okay with sparklers when I was little, but anything more explosive wasn’t my cup of tea. I can’t really point to a specific incident that scarred me physically or mentally. I just didn’t like them. Maybe there were too many explosions inside my house. Maybe in a previous life I died on a battlefield. Whatever the reason . . . Hated them.
When our girls were little, I made the obligatory yearly trips to see fireworks, armed with a blanket and picnic food, trekking uphill to meet friends, to wait out downpours, sitting slightly behind my daughters so they wouldn’t see me with my hands over my ears while they stared at the sky in wonder. Here was one thing about their childhoods I would not miss.
And then on my way home from dinner the other night, after storms had cleared away the heat, I had an overwhelming, totally baffling urge to stop and watch the fireworks in the same park where I’d sat year after year, waiting for the huge eruption of sound and color that signified the end of the show.
I couldn’t find the place. I drove around in circles until someone directed me to the origin of the spectacular explosions strewn across the sky. I found the park, finally, but the fireworks were already underway. Traffic was a snarl, the ground was sopping wet.
I pulled up against the curb. I hopped out and hurried along the street to find a good vantage point, edging my way into the lives and yards of strangers, edging my way back to another time, following the colors, the sounds, opening my eyes to the beauty, the fantastical, the phantasmagoric. Maybe it was this I craved, this I needed to hold onto, this small and unchanged piece of America.