Hello again! Happy belated fourth of July friends!
So, I am months away from graduating from my nominally esteemed college and I must admit that there is a bit of something in me that is stirred by this. Not fear but not elation. Something else. I talk a lot about my roommate and he has actually been my best friend for over a decade (I just felt weird saying that! Friends for a decade! That’s two fifths of my age that I have called him my best friend. Wild.). Where was I?…Oh yeah, so we have been friends and roommates and his girlfriend is a friend of mine as well. We hang out a lot, third-wheel is implied there, and it’s always fun.
They were going to go see fireworks but I was just going to sit around and study for the GRE. I said this only to sound productive for, in reality, I was going to workout and re-watch Arrested Development. I wanted to go though! Just not as a third-wheel…again. I love fireworks but more on that later.
I guess it’s funny how things work out though. The day before the fourth I tore my calf muscle (medial gastrowidfuwuefh strain i believe. Sorry but medical terms aren’t my forte. It hurts that’s about it.*). This tear kind of limited my mobility so I was stuck in the house for pretty much the entire day Tuesday and then all of Wednesday morning and afternoon. I am by no means an “inside” person. I love being outdoors, so this little set-back was not appealing to me. I became severely bored. The kind of bored where you are too bored to do anything so it makes you lazy. I couldn’t watch AD because my attention span was gone, I could only listen to about a minute of a song before changing it, which annoyed me. I was non complaisant. Then, later in the evening, my roommate and his girlfriend asked if I wanted to get ice cream. They had decided not to see fireworks because of the heat and crowds. I didn’t miss a beat. After his girlfriend asked me if I wanted to go, I hobbled to a stand and said, “where to?!” probably a bit too eagerly but I was just happy to get out of the house.
I never noticed just how much I used my calf muscles until everything I did mobility wise was affected by searing pain when I did the wrong movement. I had to walk with my right foot cocked almost completely sideways, my roommate saying, “I didn’t know you were half pirate” or “Look at Chris with his pimp walk”. Love you too, bro…
We have our ice cream and talk about relationships. They talk about how they’ve been dating a year and people keep hinting they should get married which sends palpitations through my heart. Not that I don’t want them to get married it’s just, the idea is too foreign for me, especially considering our age but that’s a whole other blog post. Then I remark on how that’s better than people questioning your sexuality because you don’t have a girlfriend. I think that’s funny. Most people are serial monogamists, jumping from one relationship to another. I’m a romantic at heart. I like to date but I won’t be in a relationship with someone just to BE with someone. I want it to mean something. So, I walk the dusty trail alone, sometimes. I’m okay with it but some just think it’s because I like boys. Go figure.
So, after ice cream we went to a video store and rented Chronicle (see it), and as we were leaving we heard a BOOM! The first firework went off. Then another BOOM! I poked my head out of the car window and into the humid night air. Those beautiful neon green lights that faded to orange and finally dissipated. The smell of gun powder hung in the air and I took it all in. I could hear her saying she couldn’t see them. My roommate doesn’t love nor hate fireworks. He just doesn’t see the point of them but he would have gone for her. She said she didn’t want to go but in this moment with all of those lights hanging over head as we drove through the shadow shrouded streets, she wanted to and he knew it. So they squabbled a bit about why she didn’t say she really wanted to go but I took no notice.
We ended up in the parking lot of Schnuck’s and as we pulled up, we saw that there were fireworks going off in the distance. She got out first and stood in front of the car. It was funny seeing her face light up at the spectacle in front of us. It was like she was a kid again. My roommate and I sat in the car for a moment and then I convinced him to get out of the car. The three of us stood in the empty parking lot and saw fireworks going off on our left. The lights lit up the clear night sky.
Then more in the distance to our right. They were on either side of us. Then a single BOOM! and a POP just in front of us. We had come to a point where we could see three shows going off at once.
I reveled in this. It took me back to being a kid and wanting to get as close as I could to the fireworks. I loved it when they went off almost above your head and later little bits of ash fell on you. The smell of the gunpowder will always stick with me. After those long shows as a child, I would run through the open, grass field, barefoot of course, and it would be covered in smoke. It was almost like fog hanging in the air.
The three of us stand at the foot of the car in silence. The three fireworks shows going off one after another. I look over at them embracing and I find I am troubled. In this moment there is lament. He is graduating in May and has plans to move to Florida and she may possibly go with him. So, I am looking at these two people whom I genuinely love and I think about how in one years time the likelihood that we will do this again is not there. This singular event is all that we have. Time runs out. I look back at the fireworks and I am content because now I enjoy the fireworks for a different reason. I enjoy them for what they stand for in that moment and I am happy again.
So, even though I may not see them for years after May or possibly never see them again, I get to know that they are friends that I never took for granted. We may have all wanted something different that day but somehow, in the end, we got our fireworks.
*FOOT NOTE: So, if you read this far, kudos! it was a long one! This is a small story about the calf pull. My roommate “Mike” is really into fitness and stuff. So he wanted me to do agility training with him out in a park. It was fine at first but then we did this hill running drill. You have to sprint up the hill then walk down. Do that 10 times each. ten up, ten down. It is really hard. So I am on my tenth one going up when I hear a pop and a feeling of pain that made me want to pee myself. Glad I didn’t because there were a lot of people around. I get home and look up my injury. It says it happens commonly to tennis athletes. It listed the causes of the injury. Guess what the first one was….Hill Running.