A burst of windy, threatening clouds piled up around us before sunset the other evening, sweeping away the sticky heat of the day. Instead of the holiday weekend's requisite stifling temperatures right up until bedtime, fresh air blew in to save us. Rain seemed imminent.
At home, we tucked the (super-tired, non-bathed) girls into bed and heard them fall immediately into a surprising sleep. Surprising because surrounding our house -- surrounding our city -- were the telltale percussive pops and cracks of a typical July 4th weekend. Despite the city's ban on fireworks in the tornado-affected area, the noise of them was constant as soon as darkness fell.
So Justin and I took to the driveway for an impromptu date.
On our beach towel, we sat and stared at the tree-lined horizon and waited. Neighbors down the street shot small and crackly bursts of noise or color-fired fountains. We know from previous years that their driveway will be filled and overflowing with the costly refuse of their display.
Between here and there, a group of neighborhood boys lined up on the dark street for a footrace. Bigger, teenage boys taunted their adoring, younger proteges. And between races, they stopped to light a fuse or admire the smoke-filled sky.
Across the block, unknown neighbors shot cannons and lanterns and showers of sparks above the housetops in what seemed like a give-and-take dance with our own block's fiery show. I've never seen our neighborhood so filled with fireworks in years past, and the noises coming from miles away assured me that other neighborhoods were receiving the same barrage.
Further away, over the tops of trees and so distant that the sight reached us before the sound, giant starbursts of a large display dazzled us. Pink and green canopies of falling fire. White and silver showers that popped like a million carbonated fizzies on the black heavens. Tiny explosions raining downward. Booms and crackles sounding out of rhythm with the bursting colors.
And really, there was no rhythm anywhere. The whole city, it seemed, had conspired to filling our land with crashing, whistling, booming celebrations. Of unity perhaps. Or maybe survival. Or maybe even the simplicity of shouting across the stillness of night that we're happy and capable of noise enough to prove it as reality.
It was comforting. A strange realization, since I've never loved fireworks. (And still, the thought of carelessness or children around a lighted fuse makes me cringe.) But that night, on our driveway, in our town, the sounds of a community -- a nation -- united in celebration with crashing, bursting lights and a certainty of gathering with those we love --
It was beautiful.
It was their scattered cacophony proving life being lived, despite unwished-for circumstances. It was their joyful exploding. It was them, carrying our shouts of survival and pride.
Carrying them across a city that needs joyful cacophony right about now.