When I wrote this, it was the day after the fourth of July, the U.S. holiday known as Independence Day, when we’re supposed to celebrate by getting together for potlucks and barbecues, and by setting off fireworks.
I’ve always had a weird feeling about the day. Like something was off. I like fireworks, quite a bit, although I dislike the sorts of crowds around them that I don’t go to the official fireworks displays. But I do go outside and try to get somewhere that I can enjoy them. I like the flash and the boom. Also, I don’t have pets right now, so I don’t have their care weighing on me. Your mileage may vary.
Why are fireworks part of fourth of July celebrations at all?
They scare a lot of people. They’re dangerous to people and property. They throw a ton of smoke in the air. I like em but holy shit are they not really intended for amateurs.
In light of the things I’ve learned since I was a kid, I’m gonna hazard a guess and say it’s so people feel afraid and threatened.
The danger, the fear, the mess in the streets, the wildfires, the police constantly driving around and not actually stopping anything, the not knowing whether it’s gunshots or not, the noise, the upset animals–those are features, not bugs.
Ray and I went walking around last night. Tampa, Florida, is much less pro-fireworks than neighboring Saint Petersburg, where we lived last year. Fireworks in Tampa were over by like midnight, and mostly over far sooner. St. Pete was days of horror-movie-level smoke and mist under the dying, flickering purple-blue streetlights. Eerie. The two fourth of July holidays that I spent in St. Pete were nights filled with smoke and sirens. Tampa? Ray and I walked around for almost an hour and didn’t hear any. I kept waiting for them. I’m sure there had to be some emergency calls. But I didn’t hear any sirens.
Still, last night I thought: Even though street fireworks are illegal and dangerous, there are tons of people who have invested heavily in shooting these things off.
If there were a second open Civil War, at least this much energy would go into house-to-house fighting.
I grew up with the understanding that fireworks on the fourth of July were there to commemorate the past and to warn us of the dangers of ever letting foreign attackers reach us. Now I think the holiday, for all that I love fireworks, is supposed to serve as a warning: behave, or face chaos from your neighbors, who are all obviously out to get you.
Better the devil you know, right?
We walked down the streets for almost an hour. We turned back once because some people in the street were giving off a bad vibe. The rest of the time, nobody bothered us, nobody shot anything in our direction, they stopped when we got near. We apologized profusely for interrupting one group where we couldn’t get out of range (no sidewalks). They were kids. One yelled, “Have a good night!”
But even in St. Pete we didn’t get attacked or threatened, and we went out walking to see the fireworks then, too. People were just really enthusiastic.
If you had trouble with the noise and chaos last night, you have my sympathies. There are assholes out there, and idiots, and inexperienced kids. You should be annoyed and cautious and even angry about how careless people are. You can also enjoy the pretty lights. No need to see the world in black and white.
I ask that you remember that getting whipped up from fear into hate is a political tool that has destroyed the goodness in people time and again.
Love probably won’t save the world, but not losing your cool might.
I have a short story out in a new anthology releasing on July 30th, including my short story “Evil Twin,” about a man who has to deal with his father’s ghostly evil twin…even after the death of his father.
Eleven Tales Teetering in Liminality
Eleven visionary indie writers deconstruct The Human Condition in this mind-bending collection of short stories in a variety of genres. Each of these unique voices explores a divergent world as unnerving as it is unknown, unsettling, and unresolved. These stories are guaranteed to take up residence in your head.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Including stories by Beau Blackcrow, Irene Bloodrose, Tod Davies, Jens Durke, DeAnna Knippling, Shawn Koch, Matt Orth, Miriam Robern, Rick Rosenkranz, Adrian McCauley, and Leigham Shardlow.