It is late dusk, the Fourth of July, 2020. There is everywhere, all around me, the rumble and pop of fireworks. It has been going on for a while, now.
I don’t honestly remember any Independence Day being quite like this one.
But of course in my lifetime there has not been a day like this one. I hope there is never a day like this again. We are celebrating the moment we became a nation built on principle, and simultaneously we are revolting against a regime that has abandoned principle.
Around me is a nearly constant drumbeat of noise, near and distant, sharp with proximity or heavy with distant force. The soundscape is frothing, rolling and popping, unceasing. It has not been like this before.
But of course it hasn’t. Nothing has been like this before. This noise is coming from Americans, the true proud-to-be sort, even the earned-my-right-to-be sort, but it is certain the noise is not coming from people happy about the way things have been going around here.
As I type this the background has become a steady roar. You can take that as a metaphor if you want.
Bozeman sounds like a suburb of Baghdad this evening, with the reports of the fireworks echoing through the neighborhood. Big bangs, little pops, single and in bunches. There are bigger fireworks on the way – a thunder storm is heading this way. The air is chilling and the wind is freshening; the lights dim occasionally as lightning strikes in the distance. The thunder is getting closer and sharper.
And now the rain. The civilian fireworks continue, however, a testament to just how drunk some of the celebrants are. If you don’t catch pneumonia while looking for the fingers you blew off, the terrorists have won. They do love their explosions around here. The pops and bangs have been reverberating through the night with increasing frequency over the last few days. I guess you have to go to Wyoming to get the really good stuff.
It takes me back to when I was young and stupid, running around with many of you, with a downright silly amount of bottle rockets (thanks to Pat). Something like 19 gross. Shooting them up in the air got old pretty fast, so it wasn’t long before we were divided into teams, dashing between trees and shooting them at each other. It wasn’t nearly as dangerous as we hoped, unfortunately.
At one point we had a length of PVC to use as a launcher, and we were driving around in The Heap shooting rockets out the window. Good times, at least until someone in the back seat found himself with the exhaust end of the launcher pointed directly at his face. “Point it out!” he called, only to have the person holding the tube point the front end farther out, so the back end pointed even farther into the car. Who was that? Jess, maybe? My memory is getting fuzzy. Was it even The Heap? I think I was driving, but the more I think about it the less sure I am. It’s funny now how I can rearrange the people in the car and make a memory of it. Maybe I was holding the launcher tube. Maybe I was driving. Maybe I was in the back seat, next to whoever it was looking down the wrong end of the tube.
I’m losing my mind. Now I think I was holding the tube. Anyone have a better handle on that story? Did anyone notice where I left my brain?