Growing up in Michigan, the fireworks I experienced were the big, fancy kind. Most years we headed to Detroit to see the fireworks along the river, listening to the Detroit Symphony play along. It was art. It was beautiful. We'd go early to get a good spot: spreading out a blanket in the park, picnicking and people watching. We would also enjoy fireworks over the lake in our own small town. Nearly every town put on their own display.
Personal fireworks were not legal. Sure, we had sparklers and those little things that snake along the ground, but not fireworks.
The last 2 states I have lived in allow much more in the way of personal fireworks. It's something I'm not used to.
After the May Queen was born, I had lots of reasons to hate the fireworks going off all around me. They were keeping my baby awake! Don't you people know that children are trying to sleep?!
Once I finally got her to sleep, I stepped outside to watch what was going on around me. The fireworks were pretty measly, by my high standards. But instead of enjoying their beauty, I was terrified. All around me were the sounds of explosions. Fire was flying through the air. Smoke. I couldn't help but think of what it would be like to have those same sights, sounds and smells in my neighborhood, and to know it wasn't a celebration. To be in the midst of war. Of an attack. I began crying at the end of my driveway. There was a war going on on the other side of the world. A war that "we" were engaged in. What mothers were huddling in their home, terrified? What children were they trying to calm down enough so they could sleep?
I think it was that same year that in our neighborhood a young father was killed by an errant firework. 3 teenagers took a legal firework and "improved" it. It shot straight into a neighbors chest, while his daughter stood next to him. 3 teenagers who should now be in college are instead in prison, serving sentences for manslaughter. A man who should be raising his children is gone. Now that's some celebrating our freedom, huh?
Today I once again stood at the end of the driveway, watching fireworks. The fireworks in this neighborhood are a little fancier than the ones I watched from my driveway in California. But it still creeps me out. Really creeps me out.
Why is it that we celebrate our freedom by blowing things up? Why is it that we spend so much money on something that is so unsafe, but can't find the money to donate to a homeless shelter, or a cultural institution, or a church?
Fireworks no longer hold beauty for me. They represent fear. Destruction. Loss. Terror.
Tonight, the Glare is blinding.