Fireworks and Other Unreachable Things

Happy 4th of July or as Aimee Mann once described it: “a waste of gunpowder and sky.” I love A.M.’s song — one of my favorites of hers, in fact — but I don’t feel that fireworks are ever a waste. I have an irrational over-the-top love of them.

I, too, have a song called 4th of July about loneliness and love (big surprise there).

Last year I watched the fireworks from the flight deck of the Intrepid on the Hudson. The view was incredible. True, being so close there were the crowds to deal with, which was intense. After, we moved east like a slow flow of lava. If anyone had panicked there would have been chaos and death.

I have a scene in my novel that takes place on the 4th. There’s a line about burning ash floating down. The line takes me back to Sunset Beach on Shelter Island, watching the fireworks with D and company some years ago. His friend Bill’s pants caught fire, which was not funny but we laughed. That year Bill had a girl with him. The next year he came alone. It felt different the second year — the way things do when you try to go back to them. (I have a line about that, too, in my book.)

This year I wrote and kept the animals company. They get so freaked out by all the explosions. I watched the fireworks on TV, but hardly glanced up from my writing. I didn’t feel lonely or miss anyone or wish I was somewhere I was not. I have settled into a quiet uncompromising phase. I know some find that sad. But why is allowing myself, to be myself, sad? I no longer ache for unreachable things. I’ve always found the deepest pleasure in writing my way into them anyway. I felt whenever I was not writing that my life was not my life, but an excursion, a holiday, an experiment. Maybe everyone’s life has those experiences, when we step outside of what we know, we know, to go wild, but eventually we come to long for the life we are born to live.

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