Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Blasting Stars

It is the 4th of July again and this year, the fireworks are spooking me. I wish for a respite from the booms that seem to resound from just behind me, from just beneath my ground, and I am afraid I am rather too worn out and skittish for loud celebrations. I love the idea of people celebrating together an ideal that many centuries and generations fought and died for; I have nothing against patriotism (though I lean towards a more global citizenship) and many a ditty has caused warm fuzziness in my ribs. So no, it is not the celebration of the ideals this country stands for that annoys me.

I have been trying to lure my ghost cat to her dinner for the past couple of hours. But I am afraid she just might not come today! We are leaving town and I worry about her dinner for the next couple of days. I worry about my other cats. I worry that I am leaving my undone house for a family party. I worry that I might not finish the ten hour drive in less than twenty hours. The fireworks are not helping; it sounds as though each worry is compounded, exaggerated, hyperbolized (if such a word exists) and blasted around my head, so I can't tell if I am sitting down or standing up.

I wonder if this annoyance I feel is caused by my displacement, my age, or both. I also wonder at what exactly is being celebrated. The only circumstance that justifies such a celebration is a beloved person home from a war, all whole and all smiles, a circumstance that is not as common as I'd like. I have friends whose children, spouses, parents, and extended families are on active duty or veterans. For them, patriotism is not a firework, but an expensive extra limb they've deliberately grown and wear with equal proportions of pain and pride. I cannot imagine them exploding fireworks for extended evenings; I can only imagine them in lawn chairs, contemplating the exploding skies and colors, and I cannot imagine what they wonder about.

I do this every year on July 4th and New Years' Eve (unless I am traveling then): I try to ignore my annoyance at the loud blasts. They make me think of wars, though I've never really seen one. I imagine a war would have these loud explosions and one would never know if one will ever hear anything beyond the last boom. The idea frightens and saddens me and I wonder who on earth thought of emulating the crash and boom of cannons and gunfire as a means of celebration.

My neighbor's nephew's eyes dance in feverish excitement in anticipation of an evening filled with sparkles, booms, and crashes, as he looks uncomprehendingly at me and exclaims, "We are celebrating Freedom, of course! Oh, yes! And All Things American!"

 I am unable to find a response to this and can only offer a smile that turns into a grimace as the world suddenly explodes behind me, showering the horizon in colored stars that diffuse and burn out before they reach the earth.

1 comment:

  1. I, too, found the fireworks this year very disconcerting. I always feel unsettled by fireworks on a holiday, but more so this year.

    Safe travels!