I just had my first cool part of the day, a short ride at dusk around my new neighborhood in Eugene. They don’t regulate fireworks much here in Oregon, so they were going off all around me as I rode, which I was surprised to find primarily scary. As a kid I would have found it exciting fun but as an adult it is a bit too much like being in a war zone—loud and unpredictable. They are still startling me as I write. It seems strange to celebrate a war. Independence I get, but war… I think I might have sided with the Quakers during the revolutionary war. I did a bunch of reading about it a few years ago and it was not glorious. It was horrific and desperate—way too much starvation, disease, and getting shot for my delicate nature. I do appreciate how exuberantly Americans celebrate the 4th, though. They lose their cynicism to an unselfconscious enthusiasm that is refreshing.

The 4th of July has a special feeling for me, a kind of nice, quiet, lonely feeling. I seem to have more distinct, vivid memories from 4ths than any other holiday. They don’t run together like Christmases or Thanksgivings do.

The first fireworks show I remember was in Indiana, in the 70s. My brother Ely and I claimed the best fireworks for our own, like we did with lightning during storms. “Oooh, that one was mine! That was my favorite!” I remember being so impressed with the firework that lit everything up as bright as day.

I remember in high school going to fireworks with my friends from the summer youth theater play I was in (Grease—I was Kinickie) and being thrilled when Amber Dimmick, soon to be my girlfriend, chose to lay in the spot next to mine on the blanket, and then Thomas Boltken laid between us. That was 1988. 1993, fireworks by the Sacramento River in Redding with my soon to be ex-girlfriend, Deborah O’Connor. 1994, fireworks with John Given and his girlfriend in Davis, CA, wistful about how close they seemed. 1995, trying to impress Janice Whaley and Amber Dimmick by doing back handsprings after the fireworks in Yucca Valley, CA. 1997, lonely, watching Jack London Square’s fireworks from the steps of the Alameda Chevys after work, I consider asking the cute hostess there if I can put my arm around her. I didn’t, but I did decide to ask out Alicia Dlugosh, my future girlfriend. 2000, Chad Murdy and I, after a hike through the bamboo forest, watch fireworks from a beach just south of Kihei, on Maui, with two young, cute, Japanese women, who hardly speak. 2001, Aunt Ruth’s birthday and a fairly dangerous and extremely patriotic fireworks display by some enthusiastic kids, a crazy guy on a unicycle, and a dog chasing the sparks—all friends of the Pikes. “Normal people can be fun,” Maya and I decide afterwards. 2002, a long talk about music and theoretical physics, lying on the trampoline in Joshua Tree, under the stars, with John Given, after a long, very hot day recording “Plumb the Blue” for the first Abandon Ship album. 2003, playing the Dexter Lake fireworks with Abandon Ship and making friends with a super outgoing 5 year old blonde boy named Josh. 2005, watching both Eugene and Springfield fireworks from Kelly Butte, behind Suntop, I see that my brother Gabriel is holding hands with Jessica Parsons-Taylor. 2008, a walk with the throngs through Boston with newly married and moved Amos Blanton and Kara Lockridge, to a spectacular fireworks display over the (Charles?) river, which we thoroughly enjoy in spite of ourselves. They had a live orchestra and fireworks that looked like fractals.

I wonder if I will remember this 4th. I spent it by myself. Both of my housemates are gone. I could have arranged to be at Suntop or to spend the evening with Mo’ and Vangie and the kids, but I didn’t have the energy for it. I spent the day cleaning and arranging my new room and painting my switch plates. I watered and ate strawberries and greens from the garden. I had a fun dance practice with Elizabeth Johnson, a good phone conversation with my mom, two very pleasant video skypes with Reanna, and my first purely recreational bike ride along the Amazon canal, which runs right by my new place. It was a good day.

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