Thursday, July 5, 2012

Historical Fireworks

I should start by saying, for the record, that I am a big fan of pyrotechnic displays. When I was a kid, we would shoot off all sorts of fireworks in the yard, in the street, in my grandmother's "way back" yard, at the golf course - all the regular places.

I love smoke bombs (the little round ones with the fuse that you had to fray just a little so it would light easier), and I liked those weird ash "snake" things, and the spinning things that didn't lift off the ground, but just bounced around and changed colors. And, yes, I've lit my share of bottle rockets which launched from bottles, through culverts, and even from my hands (don't tell my parents - and definitely don't remind them of the year I held Roman candles in my hands and shot them off that way).

But the great big watch-em-explode-then-feel-the-thud-in-your-chest ones have always been my favorites. I've watched them from a distance, and I've watched them up close, and they never cease to make me happy and a little wistful.

Last night, Christopher and I had a great Fourth of July at a friend's condo in downtown Minneapolis. She had invited us over to cook dinner and then go outside to watch the fireworks - since she only lives about a block off the river and right near the main Minneapolis fireworks. And it was a great evening. There were five courses - from a bruschetta appetizer all the way to a dark chocolate souffle - and sangria and some dancing, even. And then there were the fireworks.

We watched the displays start off in the distance from her living room before heading outside to watch the close-up ones. And after we got ourselves to a bench, we watched the sky explode and felt those thuds in our chests. And as I sat there next to Christopher, I started thinking about all the fireworks from before.

The fireworks in the alley next to my parents' house with coordinated "ooo's" and "ahh's." The fireworks out in back at my grandma's house - which almost always ended up in at least one incident of people screaming and running from something that went awry.

There were New Year's fireworks that I watched alone from my apartment in Baltimore. And fireworks above the castles in multiple Disney parks where I stood with family and friends. And a year when we actually braved the crowds to sit on a blanket on the National Mall to feel all that patriotism wash over us.

There was even one Fourth of July when I remember standing with friends and we spontaneously started humming/singing the 1812 Overture, just because the fireworks seemed to need some accompaniment.

The fireworks last night were pretty cool. Between the distant ones and the ones that were so close that we felt the thud and heard every single echo off the buildings. And the fact that Christopher put up with the threat of bug bites in 90-degree temps to go out and see them with me will definitely add them to the list of some of the best.

I suspect it's a good thing that fireworks always shoot off at night. I'm not sure the emotions they bring with them would survive the harsh light of day. At least not without a box of Kleenex close at hand.

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