Monday, July 7, 2008

So our wild plans for a glorious 4th celebration, the Little Ditchman's first real fireworks experience, were shelved for something much less grandiose. The reasons had to do with recent exhaustions and the general longing for "time at home" -which I put in quotes not as a sarcastic reference but as a denotation of the idyllic setting it promises -and usually delivers- when I get around to it. Note to self: Home is great. Tis a lovely place. Should spend more time there.

We'd been building up a few ideas in the head of the Little Ditchman in an effort to teach her anticipation and an understanding of the difference between the present, the near future, and the distant future. It's a tricky set of concepts for a two-year-old, this temporal construct we reside in. If you state that something is going to happen tomorrow, say, and she doesn't know what "tomorrow" even is... well, it could happen anytime, then! You see, tomorrow is what happens after today, after we sleep, and then tomorrow becomes today. And tomorrow happens over and over and over again, but it never really comes, because then it's today. And then she asks about grandma's party, where she gets to eat cake, but, uh, no, that's next week. To a two-year-old, next week is like a thousand successive tomorrows. You may as well never get your hopes up for the eating of cake.

The Big Plan was to take the old boat out into the harbor and "wear our lifejackets" as the Little Ditchman was forewarned, and then there was going to be some fishing, a barbeque on the boat at sunset, and then fireworks(!) but, alas. Lack of extra deckhands and the price of gas and the busy workweek prior to it all got in the way. We were tired before it even started. Luckily, we had also told her that we were going to see Wall-E, so it was a cinchy replacement. She munched popcorn all the way into the second act, at which point she promptly fell asleep.

Then we grabbed some old meat out of the fridge and wandered over to the neighbors to see what they were doing. I burned my arm on the unfamiliar barbeque in front of twenty strangers and pretended nothing happened. Upon our arrival the Little Ditchman noticed the other kids playing on a SlipnSlide out on the grass and we had barely made our introductions when she turned to mommy and said, "Mommy. Go get my swimsuit." Mommy did, and while she was running up the street the Little Ditchman stripped down to her skivvies and refused to put anything back on until Mommy returned with the swimsuit. So there I was with a naked little g!rl, introducing myself to strangers, right before I burned my arm.

Later, in the parking lot of a strip mall, we sat in the back of a minivan and watched the local fireworks burst overhead, pulling our legs in from time to time for the passing cars looking for parking spaces. It was fun. The Little Mermaid was playing in the backseat and we had to shut it off mid-Under the Sea and force the groaning kids out to watch the heavenly illuminations, but after a few forced "oohs" and "ahhs" they came around. Local radio synchronized some music with the fireworks and the tinny sounds of "I'm Proud To Be An American" spilled out onto the asphalt and as I sat there, looking over at my beautiful wife with our child in her lap, the two of them staring up at the colored bursts and crackles beyond the fluorescent streetlamps and power-lines, I thought, I am proud to be an American, and for a fleeting moment, it felt like a real holiday. A holy day. The kind where, though your cup is already full to the brim, just a few drops of magic are added by fate and the bounty of good fortune runneth over.

We were lucky to be born here. Every day in America is a good day.