Tonight we are into the small hours of July 4th, 2022. And at the risk of sounding like a cranky old man, I’m already sick of it. I spent the day working. I wrote three 2,000 words posts for attorney firms, and I squeaked in at the deadline. I’m expecting rewrites and edits too, because it was like pulling teeth to get them done. What can I say, I’m young, I needed the money.
It’s mosquito season in North Park anyway, and even if I didn’t have work to do, I probably would have stayed inside. In a few weeks, the temps will have dropped down at night again and mosquitoes will have been replaced by horseflies and hay fever. But right now, you will get bit when you go outside. So, in spite of these balmy 72 degree days, I wear my hoodies or stay indoors. Because I hate the bugs.
The last couple of days, my poor pup has been freaked out over the amateur pyrotechnics going on all over town. I hate to say this, but I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I no longer get all giddy at the idea of blowing shit up. I think my ex-wife’s birthday being at this time (and making the whole ordeal about her) soured me on the holiday. As I recovered, I dealt with another girlfriend having the same birthday and making it all about her, and then subsequent family drama from my daughter centering on this day four years ago now.
Last year, I had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend, which immediately was followed with courtroom bullshit, and the beginning of the end of a very unique friendship. It was also the last time I had a decent nights sleep. Let no good deed go unpunished.
It wasn’t always like this.
When I was a kid, I used to save up my lawnmowing money and summer job money to cross the border into Wyoming to buy the really good stuff. As a pre-teen and teenager, I relished blowing shit up for one day every year. My friends and I would buy grosses of bottle rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, husker-dos and husker-don’ts, kitty chasers, spleen-splitters, whistlin’ bungholes, and the assortment of incendiaries which we set off all over town. The best of these were the M-80s, which could send a 5 gallon plastic bucket tens of stories into the sky or vaporize a GI Joe action figure. It had artistry. Nuance.
At dusk, I would set up my fireworks display at the end of the street where I lived and we would set off mortars for the neighborhood. One year, the Sheriff even stopped by to deliver confiscated fireworks from some kids up the street who were acting like jackasses. My mom’s favorite passtime was shooting roman candles close enough to the street lamp to turn off the light sensor so we could see the explosions better.
All of that stopped when the droughts came and everyone was too afraid to light anything lest they set fire to the whole county. That lasted for a very long time.
Since then, I have enjoyed larger fireworks displays. The town where I lived on the Front Range had a good show, and neighboring towns had good displays. Sometimes I would get invited to a BBQ and was designated as the idiot with the lighter to shoot off the fireworks. It was fun, but it lacked the joy of blasting things off at the end of the street as a kid.
Over the years I’ve had too much crap happen at this holiday. Maybe the last good 4th Celebration was the year when my girlfriend at the time was supposed to come up to Walden with me to spend the long weekend. I swung by her house after my 2nd shift at the warehouse at around 3am. July, 1995. Fell asleep on her couch and she woke me up at 8, packed and ready to go. The only catch was at the last minute, her mom told her she wasn’t coming up with me. Something to do with her star chart being off. I shit you not. So, I tried to have a conversation with her mom to convince her to change her mind, and the whole thing turned into a clusterfuck. We never got to shoot off the fireworks I bought. Our relationship suffered, and at that moment, I knew I couldn’t expect anything long-term with her as long as her mom was on about her bullshit.
Last summer was a resurgence of the perfect Fourth of July Weekend. But it didn’t last, and what followed led to a lot of changes in my life, which I am still coming to terms with. This year, I decided to be apathetic about the holiday, because fuck it. Fuck the whole thing.
In the last year, my world has fallen apart and I have to rebuild a new life again.
I worked instead. What used to be my favorite holiday was just as tarnished as many of the others. I prefer to avoid holidays now. Talk about setting up expectations only to find failure and disappointment. I’d rather not. I would rather find joy in unassuming days that get to sneak in and remind you of why it is good to be alive, rather than these days that have been pre-packaged and usually the contents inside are stale or hardly live up to the hype.
I’m not sure anything can wake me up again to the enjoyment of the holidays. Maybe I’m too bitter. Maybe I’m sick of being let down. Onwards and upwards. I get to be idependent of expectations from now on.
By the way, we are all celebrating a country none of us are happy with anymore. So let that sink in.