Thursday, July 21, 2005

Indelible Ink

She sits on the dock at the end of the street, watching as the sky to the west darkens into night. The pinkish-purple hue fades into dark blue and then black as the lights from the boats out on the bay, twinkle like red, green and white stars, dancing on the water. For so many years of her life she’s come to watch this show and this year, even though it’s a *getting a new life* year, is no exception.

As far back as she can remember, the community she lives in had some sort of summer fireworks display. Many years ago, the show always took place on the 4th of July. She grew up on a dead end street with neighbors that had all lived there for years. They bar-b-qu-ed together, helped each other build sheds and were just generally supportive of each other, but not in an obnoxious way. People knew how to mind their own business too.

Toward evening when the out-of-towners would start to arrive her neighbors would spread lawn chairs across the street and park themselves there for the show. That was long ago, before the trees grew so tall that they blocked the view.

She remembers climbing out onto her neighbor Sara’s roof one year in order to have a better view…that was after they had walked almost to the bay and decided the roof offered a better vantage point. She does not remember what the view was like from the roof; just the idea that she was up there at all, was quite an overwhelming moment. That was the first and last roof she ever ventured up onto. She does believe that in order to qualify as a roof-sitting event, one should have to climb out a window to get here……that taking an elevator does not count.

When first married in her twenties, she stopped paying attention to the fireworks. She didn’t go to the bay, her neighbors who sat in the middle of the street, were not sitting there any more because of the big trees, and she was busy with other things. She did find it entertaining however, to watch all the cars and what seemed like thousands of people, all trying to get down into this small area of her community, and then back out again. A moving mass of people, all walking in the middle of the street, while cars tried to maneuver around them. It was amazing that as a rule, no yelling and shouting ensued. Of course, that’s because these were all fireworks watchers; she thinks they don’t yell and shout at each to begin with.

For a number of years, the fireworks stopped. She almost didn’t notice, until one year, when they started again. By then her first child had been born and exposing her to this wonderful display became very important. She found that fireworks still held their original awesome beauty for her and realized that not only had she missed them, but felt a need to pass along this tradition to her child and then to both of her children.

Some people complain about the mess, the crowds, the traffic that these shows bring to the community. She thinks those are the people who don’t actually watch the fireworks; they just like to complain. People, who enjoy them, watch with enthusiasm. They watch with awe. They watch with the wonder of children. Among all the hundreds of people she sat among tonight, she did not hear one word said in anger, or complaint. They were happy to sit and watch and “ooh”, and “ah”, as fireworks that looked like waterfalls and dandelion puffs, came to life in the air.

She sat on the dock tonight in the dark, lovingly surrounded by her family. Her daughter who is now a young woman, but who first came to that dock as a baby, her son, happily perched atop of fire truck nearby, her brothers and their families, her mother…. and her father, who was off riding his bike somewhere. She looked out over the water and watched the boat lights out on the bay, bobbing red and green and white….And as she watched these beautiful fireworks light up the night sky, she thought about how one day, she might not live here anymore. She felt time moving on and wondered where a new life might take her. But no matter the future, she knows that these moments are etched in indelible ink, right into her heart.

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