I used to love our day of independence.
I have no reason to be scared of fireworks. I am not a veteran, I have fought in no wars. I don’t wish to pass of as one when I don’t believe I’ve even been next to a gun as it was fired. It’s a noise I recognize at range.
Yet as the day of American Independence rolls around, I find myself panicking and afraid of the sparklers in my driveway.
It never used to be this way. I enjoyed fireworks, the celebration. Now my chest tightens, and my breath holds.
It’s one more event I have no way to stop.
What has caused this change? Is it me? Is it as simple as a transition to adulthood, the loss of child-like joy or innocence?
I find myself retreating to my shower, running water in the center of my apartment block drowning out what must be cannonballs in a neighbor’s backyard. Is it earthquakes you’re supposed to hide in the tub for, or tornadoes?
I try to hold to the thought that fireworks were supposedly a Chinese invention, and have a long, happy history. It’s hard to remember that on America Day, as mechanized and computerized shots raze the sky.
I have to wonder, is it us? Is this fear a product of the US that reports gun violence on our streets, in our homes, in our schools, everyday? Just today, a man was shot and killed on a street named after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Florida. A 13- year old turned himself in for murder, and a 16 year old was arrested. Peria, Illinois just had its thirteenth homicide for the year, and a man was shot and killed in his own yard in Memphis, Tennessee.
I hear two other showers running nearby.
When did this tide turn, become not fun? Was I not paying attention before? Is it not the US, but the world? A product of generations, of a time with too many people in a world that is globalizing too fast? A time of instant news, every mass tragedy gilded on a 4k display, accumulating a pile of bystander and survivor’s guilt afor us all.
I can hear a dog upstairs, anxiously pacing the floor. Nature has thrown plenty our way lately, summer thunder and winds rattling down the front hallway past an ill fitting front door. Nothing has bothered him before.
I suppose that’s the essence of it. Not the heat, the light, or the potential for destruction. Nature has plenty of those.
Somehow, when thunder is harnessed by human hands, it’s different.