Fireworks have a magical effect on the world. But through the eyes of a child, there are few words "big" enough to describe the sky booming with color.
I was raised in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, and drive-in theaters were the place to be on the 4th of July, or for that matter, any summer night especially on a Wednesday. Fifty cents for an entire car load. How could you beat that? We had two drive-ins in town to choose from. Pretty snazzy for a small town surrounded by a Navajo Indian Reservation in the high desert with no direct routes from anywhere to get there, and while it wasn't exactly in the middle of nowhere, it was right next door to nowhere.
Some of my fondest moments as a child happened at our local drive-in. On a hot, dry summer evening right before the sun went down, we'd load up the car with blankets, pillows, a big water jug, and some homemade popcorn, and head to the drive-in theater. Most of the time my sisters and I already had our pj's on--it was part of the ritual. Our "attire of convenience" never stopped us from running to the playground even before the crackly sounding speaker had been attached to my dad's side of the window. Up and down the rows of hills we'd run, between cars, and under speaker wires straight to the playground. There was just enough sound floating in the arid air to hear the cartoon while lying on the slide, gliding to the sky in a swing, or spinning on the merry-go-round.
On the 4th of July there was always a firework display at the drive-in. We'd huddle on the ground in front of the car, or on top of the hood to watch the sky pop into mammoth sized sparklers. Squeals in loud or soft "ahhhhhhs and ohhhhhhhs", or even an occasional scream, was perfectly acceptable by one and all. Once a year was the only time one could watch fireworks. It was special--it's not that way today. We set off fireworks at half time, at concerts, at amusement parks, in our backyards, off the back of ships, and to announce the next McWhopper-Doodle Burger.
Superman and I stood among the masses to observe the fireworks display last night. When we jockeyed in for our position, I purposely moved to a spot where we wouldn't be blocking any people with children, or people who were seated. It's a habit with me--I'm a tall girl, and it's expected of you when you are tall to stand in the last row when pictures are being taken or to retrieve something from the top shelf of the cupboard for someone who is vertically challenged. I'm OK with that. I'm vertically endowed.People were talking the entire time around us, and not about the firework display. One young man walked by us talking loudly on his cell phone to be heard over the loud bangs. He was quite loud, and it was strange to observe his compete unawareness of his surrounding's or that his behavior might be considered rude by most of the people he walked past. I looked to my right and saw four teens standing in a group talking away--backs turned from the sky aflame with star bursts melting into plumes of smoke. I looked left, and saw another three people talking, engrossed in their conversations and not the show. They weren't watching at all. I turned my attention away from the people not watching to begin watching after I realized I'd missed several blasts of color in gawking at the people standing around me.
Ribbons of color, and balls of fire wooed a girlish "ahhhh" from my heart, and out the window of my mouth. I'm truly the most awake, and alive, when I'm behaving like a child. My heart is still five, or seven, or nine.... and I will never grow up completely-- no never.
Behind me I heard a little boy two years old, maybe three, but no older, exclaiming, "Wow!!" after each explosion of light and sound. It charmed me so I had to turn around to see the cherub whose voice took me back to my childhood of summer nights at the drive-in. It wasn't a moment later I heard his mother begin shushing him, telling him to stop saying "wow". I could barely contain myself from making the biggest OHHHHHHS and AHHHHHHS and WOWZZZZ you'd ever hear to rally behind that little boy just doing what comes natural--it's called being "a kid"~~~
So I'm standing there aware I've been as easily distracted by my surroundings as the people I've been annoyed at for being distracted, and scold myself for not watching the fireworks. I just focus in again, when a tall man.... a very tall, large man walks in front of me, and stands slightly in front of me just to my right to watch the show. He never once turns to see who he just stood in front of... which happened to be a family with small children, and a grandma seated in a wheel chair. He just stood there pleased as punch he'd found such a primo spot.
At this point I'm having an inner conversation about the situation instead of watching the fireworks. I'm trying to decide whether or not to tap the giant on the shoulder, and challenge him right there on the spot to move his big hunkin' butt on down the line so the people he blocked could see better. I decide to leave it alone especially since my Wonder Woman costume was at the cleaners. After all it is July 4th... so I begin watching (again...) standing on my tippy-toes, looking over his left shoulder.
I'd just gathered my focus, and had successfully resumed watching, when the hulk pulls out his cell phone and lifts it high above his head taking pictures of the fireworks. Now I'm distracted again... I stand there like a 12 year old playing a video game watching the shots he takes, and deletes or saves. Argghhhhh!!!! It took me 6-8 shots before I realized I was watching the firework show through his small LCD on the back of his frigging cell phone instead of the sky itself...
But what it really reminded me of was that I had my Flip Video in my purse and hadn't taken a single shot! So out it comes, and I stand next to the massive man who suddenly, and oddly, reminds me of the Statue of Liberty with his arm held high, his torch fired up with a glowing screen lighting the way for freedom of speech, freedom to watch what we want--or not--freedom to stand together as a country, and most importantly, as the diverse individuals that make up this great country. I managed to focus the last two minutes of the firework display--looking a lot like Lady Liberty myself standing next to Big Guy Liberty, clicking away.
After the Grand Finale, I twist my face into a surprised frown, and with a pout sinking my bottom lip down past my ankles ask Superman, "Was that it!?"
The world spins by so fast today and it takes a lot to hold our attention. I'm afraid my attention span is that of a gnat, too. A fleeting firework... A mere flash in cell phone camera... And I'm wondering what the heck I started this post to tell you about... And I fret about how many of you had enough time, or interest, or attention span to follow this long story to the end.
Go ahead, you have my permission to change the channel... but if you're still with me, leave me some comments on how you feel about then, and now, and our attention challenged world. Oh....here's what I wanted to tell you. I'm working on an album of shots I took of the fireworks. I'll post them soon on my side bar.
Now click that remote..... I'm outta here.