Fragile Moments Sometimes Linger
We drive to watch fireworks in a very small town about ten miles east of where we live. We normally drive through this town on the way to a lake cabin where the water is cold but clear and everything is surrounded by trees and sometimes sky. Sometimes, we have stopped in that small town with friends for good food so cheap, it feels like we've gotten into a time machine and gone back fifty years to a time when people said please and thank you and women wore skirts of an appropriate length. When six people can eat a full meal with drinks for less than $50 including tip that is some kind of wonderful. We always marvel at the menu. We are charmed by these seemingly forgotten and unknown places where people live their whole lives. We lay on the bed of a pick up truck and stared up at the sky. I love fireworks. They make me feel like crying. I don't know why but there's something about looking up into the night sky and seeing it filled with bright explosions of light that makes me feel something intense and honest and beautiful; fireworks make me feel alive. It's kind of like sex but I do not say that to make some kind of ridiculous analogy between fireworks and sex but rather to give an approximation of what it feels to lie in the warm bed of a pick up truck on a hot summer night. The air is thick and still, and your fingers are wrapped around those of a man who has large, calloused but always gentle hands. He makes you feel like you belong whenever he's with you, he makes the whole world fall away. There are people everywhere no one is frustrated or angry or tired everyone is just happy and the moment is fragile but it lingers. Perfect children are running around with sparklers, their arms raised above their heads, creating heartbreaking beams of speed and light. Every few moments you can hear a can of beer opening or someone laughing. When the fireworks begin, silence, and then the world vibrates with each new explosion and then there are ooohs and aahs because no matter how old you are or jaded you feel, there's nothing like seeing the reflection of fireworks spreading over a deep dark lake. There is nothing like turning to look at the person next to you and seeing something like tears in their eyes during the heavy pause as one shower of colorful light fades into the next.
Roxane Gay's writing appears or is forthcoming in Mid-American Review, The Mississippi Review, Cream City Review, Annalemma, McSweeney's (online), and others. She is the co-editor of PANK and can be found online at http://www.roxanegay.com. Her first collection, Ayiti, will be released in 2011. She is crazy about fireworks.