Proof Through the Night

I meant to set off fireworks last night. We were staying with friends for the long weekend, and Kick had sacked out despite the re-enactment of Yorktown going on in the street. Mr. A had purchased about $75 of NOT AT ALL ILLEGAL fireworks and we were gonna shoot them off the back porch after eating a metric ton of grilled meat.

You know, the way Washington and Hamilton intended.

But instead I fell asleep on the couch inside, far from bug bites and possible drone-fines and my beer-drinking compatriots. I was sunburned and my back still hasn’t fully healed from its most recent injury (I see a specialist next week) and I’d had way too much wine at dinner.

We’d driven five hours to see a woman who has been my best friend since I was 8 years old, who hasn’t lived in the same state as me and mine since we were 12 but who nevertheless has been a constant in my life for three decades. We drove through cornfields spotted with MAGA signs, and I spent four days doing my best not to check the news or read stuff online or text anybody. I’ve lost friends lately, and I felt like circling the wagons. I had the luxury of being able to ignore the roaring outside and I took it. There are so many things I’ll never be able to repay this girl for, not if I win the biggest lottery in all the world, and add this weekend to the list.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember what this looks like, America, in the aggregate. The view from space, from a rocket’s height, bathed in that red glare. It’s hard to remember what there is down here to love. The long view isn’t something any of us can afford right now. We’re all just trying to keep ourselves together and I’m doing a bad job of it lately, and I don’t think I’m unusual in that. I want to sing you all an off-key barroom ballad about our flag still being there. I want to sing it to myself. Everyone I know is so goddamn tired.

For the first time in a long time, I took my raging twitchiness and buried it in the laughter of a little kid running through a sprinkler and a cat to pet and parks to walk in. Apparently at midnight they’d burned through all the pyrotechnics, saw me asleep on the couch, covered me with a blanket and tiptoed upstairs.

We drove home with this on the radio. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what there is down here to love and sometimes I know exactly what there is for sure.


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