Monday, July 4, 2011


Happy Independence Day!

I'm trying to describe my fireworks experience without sounding pretentious, but it's not turning out so well :) Every year the local high school (not the one I go to, but one closer) hosts a fireworks display for the Fourth of July, and it's become something of a tradition for my dad and I to go. It  simply isn't the Fourth of July without fireworks. We left around 7:30, because the show was supposed to start at 8, but we all know it doesn't start until around 9:30 when the sun goes down. Even hours beforehand, the streets surrounding the school were busy; rather than fight with the crowd, we pulled into the half-full parking lot of a business and walked the rest of the way.

The fields behind the school were already crowded; the most popular vantage point, a hill which offers a perfect view, was almost completely filled. My dad and I found some bleachers which, except for a couple trees, would let us see all of the fireworks. Slowly people began to fill in, and the sky grew darker.

Before the fireworks began was the celebration--not of independence, not for our country, but the joy of being together and being with friends and family, the joy of sitting in a field with hundreds of others, strangers brought together, waiting for the sun to go down. People from all over town came together and played together and laughed together; as the sky grew darker, glow tubes dotted the field. All around you could see the glow tubes; people threw them, ran with them; you could see the vendors, holding great chunks of them in their hands, wandering like beacons through the fold-out chairs and blankets. There was the smell of hot dogs, grass, perfume, air, and people; there were people everywhere. There was togetherness. There was friendship. There were games and food and conversation; there was nothing bad in the air, not a single sour feeling, just friendliness and anticipation.

The fireworks started without warning; in a moment the atmosphere went from a communal picnic to riveted focus. Everything stops. Your eyes are filled with light, and you count the seconds till the sound hits you, the crack that stops your heart. One after another, flying upward and disappearing for a moment before exploding in a burst of color before slowly fading, twinkling out like dying stars. Each new explosion illuminates the fading smoke skeletons of the ones before. Whispers and gasps and laughter fill the silence, create a backdrop for a world which has suddenly been narrowed down to the simple, beautiful world you see in the sky. As red, white, blue, purple, green rock the sky you get a feeling, a sense of what you're celebrating--the people gathered, the joy of the moment, the wonder of this thing you can't grasp. This is what the celebration is for; this feeling of pure, untainted, happy freedom. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

The finale is a spectacle, one after another after another. The entire world is filled with light. You know it's ending because it's more spectacular than anything you've ever seen; it's a thousand, million colors, lights, and the old ones don't even have time to die before the new ones fill the sky and you can hardly breathe, you can't breathe. Then it's over and the field of people you forgot was there begin to move, to fight each other to get out, but their eyes are still training on the skyline, just in case...

Meanwhile, a certain young writer tries desperately to remember all the things she thought during the show, so that she can write about it later :) Happy Fourth, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Reading this made up for me only barely seeing one firework over the top of the grocery store I had hurriedly parked behind, haha. I will just live vicariously through you and your much more illustrious July 4th celebrations. :)