July 5, 2006
While other holidays blur together, my July 4ths are differentiated with strange clarity... I can count them back to about the age of 15 and tell you exactly where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing. Here are a few:
July 4, 1984, Marble Falls, Texas - Went bowling and walked out with a pair of red and blue bowling shoes, ditching my chucks. Had a bottle rocket war with friends near Inks Lake.
July 4, 1986, Boston - I was with a group of college friends one of those long nights when you end up at strange people's parties. I remember after the fireworks and very late in the evening I sat on the banks of Charles with a girl I liked. She was from Los Angeles and could quote Dickens, The Pickwick Papers to be precise. We could hear voices carrying from the other bank of the river.
July 4, 1988, Princeton - Wrote a letter to a friend in Kenya, illustrated it with zebras, and watched fireworks from the roof of Blair Hall. It was a perfect summer night and after a few beers we all fell asleep up there.
July 4, 1989, Philadelphia - I didn't know at the time, but my college girlfriend was breaking up with me. We fought about many things that day including a very long fight over a pound cake. Looking back at it now I wonder how 22 year olds could have made each other so miserable.
July 4, 1991, East Hampton - At some country club on the invite of a date. We watched little girls in white dresses and little boys in ties and jackets run around the beach with sparklers. The fireworks illuminated the sailboats on the still water. Went skinny dipping later.
July 4th, 1992, Pakistan - Looked at the stars (so many stars up at 14,000 feet) and thought of home.
July 4th 1993 Mongolia - Shot hundreds of tracer rounds into the sky at an ex-Soviet military base with a couple of ex-pat Texans. Had a grand time.
July 4, 1994 - Beverly Hills. Alone, tired. Strange. Watched the fireworks over the city lights in the far distance from my roof.
July 4th 1997 - San Francisco. The fireworks illuminated the low hanging fog in weird and beautiful patterns.
July 4th 2001 - Langmusi. Rounded up several other Americans and managed to improvise a bbq complete with yak burgers and apple pie. In lieu of fireworks we created a huge bonfire on the mountainside with our Tibetan friends. Everyone drank too much baiju.
July 4th, 2004 - Santa Barbara. We know we're leaving California by now and take a final drive up Route 1. We watch fireworks on the beach in a big happy crowd. Jenn is pregnant and the baby kicks when the fireworks boom.
July 4th, 2006 - Brooklyn. We walk down the street following the crowds under the BQE. The scene has a off-kilter Mad Max quality about it. Hasidic Jews, tough Brooklyn gangstas, Yemeni Arabs, scores of average New Yorkers, and a random celebrity or two all crowded behind fences and concertina wire to watch the fireworks over Manhattan. After we return home, Jenn IMs me from downstairs, "What just happened tonight?"