After a day sorting out the books I want to give to thrift stores and used books stores, and emailing apartment owners and brokers about potential apartments, I am sitting on a window ledge in my current flat. No, I’m not contemplating embracing the sidewalk two floors below. It just happens to be one of those Mid-Western weekends when there’s a fireworks display and I have a front row seat to the evening’s show.
Parades and fireworks are a serious business in the Mid-West and viewing them is something of a competitive sport. When I went for a bike ride today, I noticed blankets and camps chairs dotting a few spots—at ten-thirty in the morning, a full twelve hours before the event. People come in from the neighboring suburbs to see the big city pull out all the stops. And it does.
I had never seen fireworks like these before I came to the United States, fireworks that lit up the night sky and dotted it with exuberant shapes for an ephemeral moment. Before I moved to this apartment, I would walk down to the Mississippi with friends, find a spot to spread a blanket, get a crick in my neck, and serve as a buffet to the mosquitoes before the last firework had spun itself into the dark.
Now, I live about two blocks from the Muddy and an island that is the setting for the neighborhood’s light and sound extravaganzas. I love these evenings. I turn off the lights in my living room and hitch myself up onto the wide ledge of the bank of windows that spans the south-facing wall, framing the sky and the downtown skyline to the southwest. Against that backdrop, I can watch an explosive ballet of red, green, yellow, pink, orange, and blue sparks. All from within the screens that keep my blood volume stable.
Will I miss this when I leave? Will there be fireworks in the future between the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve? Do New Yorkers even like fireworks? I don’t know. So for now, I’ll just sit here and look out at the warm summer night while darkness deepens even as the sky turns bright. I’ll enjoy this apartment today. Tomorrow, I’ll call someone about that place with the murphy bed.