I watched fireworks tonight. I hadn’t seen any in several years and it occurred to me that watching fireworks this time of year is an anchor event in life. It’s something I can trace back through time and pin point specific memories tied to that ‘now’. Like a Christmas morning, or a birthday party — watching fireworks is an event.
I sat there tonight spellbound, thinking today’s fireworks are simply so much more spectacular than the ones I remembered as a kid sitting on a baseball field in Hallstead, Pennsylvania during the annual Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival. Thursday night was the parade and the fireworks were on the weekend of the event. My mom took me for both every year until I was old enough to hang out by myself with my friends. At that point, we were cool enough to wander about on our own. It was a small town, we were 11. Life was different in those days.
I remember taking my kids to fireworks over the years. When my younger daughter was small, she hated the noise so we didn’t go much until she got past that. One year friends from out of town came and we took our two kids and their four and went to a park in Endicott, NY. We spread out a blanket and the kids sacked out and the adults hung out and talked. All around us other people broke out pipes and bongs and the sweet smell of weed floated in the air. We inhaled deeply and laughed our asses off. Bonding as only true friends and young parents are able to do.
I remember our first few years in NC, missing the familiar places of this annual ritual. Of feeling lost and out of sorts. No place to go, no friends to bar-b-que with. We would take the kids to the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, NC to watch fireworks and pretend we belonged here in this new place.
The first year after my divorce, I went to the fireworks display in my local town with the man I was seeing at the time. He enjoyed it and it felt nice not to be alone. But my life had changed so drastically, I was still reeling from the shock of it. I was numb for a long time after the ink dried on the divorce decree. Watching the fireworks that year felt like I was watching them through someone else’s eyes — in someone else’s body. I witnessed them, more than watched them.
Tonight I watched and I remembered all the fireworks displays in my life. The dozens of fields I have sat in enjoying the beautiful displays which lit up the skies over my head in celebration of summer or sometimes Fourth of July specifically.
Life gives us such moments to mark our lives with. Anchors to help organize our memories into a shape which makes sense to us. Fireworks.
Where were you when you saw your first fireworks display? Where were you when you saw your latest fireworks display?
Happy Fourth of July! May you make an anchor memory full of color and light.