My hometown friends and I have developed something of a Fourth of July tradition. Well, more of an understanding. If we show up at Mark’s house, there will be food and fireworks. He lives just above our city’s community college, which hosts the local fireworks show. We used to sit up on the roof, but that was nixed this year. Too many kids old enough to want to be up on the roof, but too young to scale the rickety ladder. The front yard is a good vantage point, though, raised about five feet from the sidewalk. We joined the small crowd out on the lawn.
Mark’s family is the kind you can drop in on. Like you could stop by at 10 pm, pour yourself a bowl of cereal, turn on a movie, and Katie would simply stick her head out to say a quick hello and tell you that there is left over pasta in the fridge. “Help yourself!” is the ever present refrain. So I was hardly surprised when a couple with a baby standing down below on the sidewalk were invited up to watch the fireworks with a better view. “Come on up! How old is the baby? Sixteen months? How fun.” We all exclaimed over the baby and made small talk until the show started.
This little pajamaed boy had never seen fireworks. We didn’t have to wait long for his reaction. Utter, complete, totally unbridled joy. He laughed and laughed, until his voice went hoarse. Then he cried. Then he laughed some more. Every new explosion was a new fit of screeching giggles, echoed by the laughter of the whole crowd on the lawn. My boyfriend, Matt, found the baby more entertaining than the fireworks. “Matt, aren’t you going to watch the fireworks?” I asked as he turned around in his chair, waiting for the baby’s reaction to the next explosion. “I’ve seen fireworks,” he said, waving at the baby.
The fireworks ended. The baby faded, eyes drooping, head resting on his mother’s chest. “Same time next year?” Mark’s dad offered the young couple as they buckled the baby into the stroller. They nodded and smiled, thanking him for letting them take up lawn space. They left happy.