Thursday, July 05, 2018

Explosions in the Night

"I'm going to go see the fireworks."

"Let me know if you don't mind company."

"Meet me at my place at 8."

The night is a sticky humid city summer night. Chicago edging the thermostat to the top with matching humidity so that I feel slick from even a minimum amount of walking. Holding hands that slip around, but for some reason don't bother that much, we walk across the city towards the beach, joining a parade of people doing the same thing, going to see the light show, going to check out the colors in the sky.

From the sanctioned fireworks to the random people that have prepared for at least a month for this night, we are in good company to watch stars explode in front of us and watch those that want to blow up the night. On the train, I'm amused by people wearing what look as if they are prepared for the end of the world or a planned invasion.

Light is fading quickly against the sky, and we pass out of the streets and into the park edging the lake. There is a large hilltop there, topped with easily a hundred people sitting on the grass and watching the sky light up. We go further all the way out to the beach, sitting on top of a breaker wall, with people on every side around us, views up and down the lakefront.

There were hundreds of children playing on the dark beach, girls wearing bows that fluttered in the dark in neon light up colors, various children spinning around light wheels to add to the creative explosions in the sky. The air tasted like burning metal and the smell of ozone was everywhere on the wind.

"Mother nature's contributing," says the Drummer, pointing out the lightening filling the sky to the east and the south. And so it was, a thunderstorm rolling away from us as the backdrop for the fireworks displays up and down the shore.

In front of us people let of trains of sparkling explosions, while near and far up and down the beach cannons at various local parks, from local businesses, from everyone who was stocked up to participate, filled the night with sounds of popping, colors in pink, purple, blue, red and green, and all around us the whistle-hum-zip-boom of a thousand launches into the night.

"Humans are amazing."


"This serves absolutely no purpose but to entertain, really."

We watch a beach patrol roll along the lake front.

"Your tax dollars at work. So pointless. No one cares, everyone knows it's legal today, but still someone needs to make a fuss about in so that you can have a small convoy of four ATFs rolling down the lake front."

"Especially, tonight. Everyone knows that it's illegal in the city and everyone knows that no one will likely get busted. It's like an isolated mini-Purge. Acceptable levels of illegality to keep everyone in line for the rest of the year."

"It's not the same on TV. There is something about fireworks that must be seen in person."

"That is true."

We lean into each other and watch the night sky explode around us, drifting on the trails of a thousand different light shows as the cool breeze from the storm drifts off the lake and breaks up the choking heat from the day, listening to the music of the light show punctuated by the occasional flash bang and laughter of beauty of so many humans congregating to take in a single moment together.

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