Friday, July 5, 2019

Rite of Passage

Let it hereby be known that, in the year 2019, I finally made it to the Lakefront to see the fireworks.

Since moving here in 1999 I have gone through many stages in my relationship with the iconic Fourth of July event.

Ooh, there are fireworks?
But where are the fireworks?
That’s got to be really crowded.
That must be a thing for “real Columbians”.
There probably won’t be any place to park.

A few times I was invited to go down by real-live, genuine locals, but I chickened out. Maybe it was too hot, or rainy. It just never happened.

In the meantime I enjoyed our local fireworks display from afar. When I first arrived it was still possible to see them from the top of our hill, or from a bedroom window. But then the trees got taller and blocked our view. So, for several years we enjoyed a pretty good view with some friends who had an “undisclosed location” for their Independence Day viewing. (I’m sorry, I can’t tell you. Sworn to secrecy.)

Like most people, we did spend one year going out by car to find the fireworks only to pull over to the side of the road and stand on the median strip to see the show. Probably the best of all our viewing spots was in the field at Talbott Springs Elementary School in Oakland Mills. It’s a pretty solid view and the community atmosphere is A+.

Last night my daughter and I were able to see the fireworks up close because of the kindness of a friend. And, because my daughter is headed off to college in the fall, I thought it was time she got to have the be-all and end-all of Columbia experiences. And so we went.

We couldn’t have known that the highlight of our evening was going to be, not the fireworks display itself, but a little girl who was watching them with us. She bounced with delight. She clapped her hands. She laughed in wonder.

Then she got tired and sat down to take it all in for a while. We looked over and saw she had put her head down and thought she was done for the evening. Not so. She was just taking a breather and then she was up on her feet  again, cheering on each explosion of color.

Wow wow wow. These fireworks are so cool.

And so, twenty years after moving to Columbia, I finally saw the show that makes Columbia famous. It was particularly sweet to me because of being included by a friend. I joke a lot about never wanting to go anywhere. I still love being invited. Sometimes I actually go.

But the very best part of the night was that little upturned face with eyes as brilliant as sparklers.

Wow wow wow. These fireworks are so cool.

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