July 05, 2006

With the possible exception of the grass in the central park, I think we have all survived the Fourth.

I have a complicated relationship with the holiday, even if we ignore the current discomforting foreign policy. Mostly, it's about the fireworks. I enjoy the sparkles and the lights, but I'm finding that the older I get the more uncomfortable I am with the sounds and the smoke they cause. The big fireworks for large displays (the kind over the beach in Santa Barbara, or over any of the Seattle-area bodies of water) are fine, somehow. It's the smaller explosives, the firecrackers you can find in the supermarket in late June and the fireworks brought back from the surrounding reservations, that bother me.

Our neighborhood has been popping and booming for the last five days. As a parent, there's a kind of general discomfort with all the kids running around with matches and explosives. "Don't play with that - someone could get hurt!" This wasn't made any better when I realized that some of the fireworks were being launched sideways. But it's the sounds these things make that make me really edgy. One last night had a kind of sustained scream that turned all my vertebrae on end. The rest sound like a cacophony of gunfire.

I should appreciate the innocence that allows the neighborhood kids to shriek with delight at things that sound like weapons. But I found myself instead, tense and on edge in my kitchen, thinking of the women in Gaza and Baghdad, places where those sounds are not primarily sounds of celebration. There is a sense of personal gratitude that I am not there, but there is also a prayer for strength and peace for these women. May you survive with your hearts and spirits intact; may you raise the next generation to find the road to peace; may the explosions you hear soon be as innocuous as fireworks launched sideways.

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