Disarranging Mine: A Journal


July 4, 2002

2:01 a.m.

This photo was taken by me from a boat on Muskegon Lake a couple years ago. As fireworks photos go, it's pretty common, but I like it.

ooooooh ahhhhhhhh

Memories of the Fourth of July

1961. A mommy, a daddy, a little boy, and a little girl, sitting on a blanket on a hill. Families on blankets all around. The grass is dewey. The air is slightly cool. The fireworks light up the sky in brief moments of spectacular grace. There's a collective chorus of "oohs and ahhs." The shrapnel sizzles as it lands on the lake. The little girl is awestruck by the beauty of the fireworks.

1971. A teenage girl and her girlfriend sitting on a blanket on that same hill. The grass is dewey. The air is slightly cool. The two teenagers are chanting, "firecracker, firecracker, oooh ahhh!" and the crowd around them chimes in. The teenage girl is sad when the night is over.

1981. A young woman and her guy and his friends sitting on a dilapidated picnic table in the tiny backyard of his Chicago home surrounded by the concrete jungle. The air is heavy with the smell of gunpowder. The guy's brother and his friends are in the alley on the other side of a wooden stockade fence. As they take turns firing bottle rockets across the fence, they shout "incoming." The young woman is astounded at how easily amused these people are.

1991. A single mother sits her young girls on the front porch. She positions herself at the foot of the driveway with her cache of firecrackers and burning barns. As she lights each one and runs for cover, she can hear her girls on the porch with their "oohs and ahhs." The girls don't want the night to end, so she pulls out her hidden stash of sparklers much to the girls' delight. Much discussion is had over the subject of punks. The single mom smiles and thinks to herself, it doesn't get any better than this.

2001. Two teenage girls, on the verge of womanhood, sit their mom, who is on the ascending cusp of middle-age, on the front porch as they position themselves at the foot of the driveway. They take turns lighting their cache of fireworks and burning boats. As each firework is lighted, they can hear their mom on the porch chanting, "firecracker, firecracker, oooh ahhh!" And the mom, who is on the ascending cusp of middle-age, gives a wry smile as the last sparkler is lit and she thinks to herself, that her own Independence Day is just around the corner.

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L.M. Carnes 2002.

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