ROCKAWAY, JULY 4th, 2021
July 4th is a holiday that I’ve always approached with ambivalence. I’ve never been a flag flyer, and have preferred to leave over-the-top displays of patriotism to my more conservative neighbors. I do enjoy beautiful fireworks, and am always grateful to Macy’s for their magic. One of my favorite 4ths was pre 9/11, standing in a fountain with my then new boyfriend, now husband, watching fireworks on the Hudson float over my head. For my family, it’s a get-together time, as are most holidays, with barbecues and the like.
Since we’ve been spending summers in Far Rockaway, the 4th has been a time to dread, with noisy and dangerous fireworks set off by neighborhood teens for days on end. Last summer, a bottle rocket landed on our bungalow roof, bringing with it the risk of fire. So, my anticipation for this post-pandemic 4th was tinged with annoyance and fearfulness, despite the fact that I was feeling better about my country than I had in 5 years.
We had dinner on our deck with my son and 15 year old grandson who live down the block, and then spouse and I went inside to watch the Macy’s display on TV, as the rockets exploded outside and we feared for our roof and car. At 10PM, my grandson burst into the house to tell us that we had to come outside for the fireworks. When a grandchild asks, you just do it, right? We went down the block with him, where neighbors were setting off fireworks, and, to our surprise, they were BEAUTIFUL! They were not quite Macy’s, but they were beautiful, and they were real, and all of the neighbors were out on their front porches, participating. My grandson was beside himself with excitement, and we just reveled in his joy, the feeling of community after a year and a half of isolation, and the beautiful displays floating overhead. My grandson said, “I’ll never forget this”, and my heart swelled with joy that his childhood Rockaway memories were like my childhood Rockaway memories. These are the things we pass on to our children and grandchildren.
Oh…and…our roof and our car survived.