Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I Heart This

I'm not sure why this is, but something memorable always happens on my Independence Days. Maybe not every year, but almost. There was the time that I somehow got myself into a date on the 4th that included a small yacht off the coast of my city, which was very exciting, but the people I was with were so hipster cool that they didn't even come out from below deck to watch the fireworks, and I was too young and wishy washy to tell them that was so lame and walk up to the upper deck myself. That was a stupid 4th. Then there was the time in high school when I was riding into downtown in the back of my best friend's pick up truck with some other girlfriends and some drunk dude decided to try and run after our truck with his, ahem, "bottle rocket" out, just POINTING it at us, and my friend A.K. threw her coke can at him as we drove away and it hit him, well, just exactly right, if you get my drift. Now, I'm not one to encourage littering like that, but in that case, it was fine.

The best 4th memory I have is from about five years ago, and I think about it every single year ever since then, and I will probably think about it every year from here on out. Biology Girl, Jenny, and I all walked the fifteen blocks or so from my apartment to a street that overlooks the city skyline and the lake above which the fireworks would go off. The place where we stood wasn't a park, and it wasn't designated for the large gathering of pedestrians that filed in at dusk. It was just a city street like any other, except for its vantage point. The crowds drifted out of their apartments, condos and houses, and stood in the street, waiting for the display to begin. It's times like these that I love living in the city so much. There are so many people, and none of us know each other, but there we all are, standing close and, for the most part, acting all neighborly.

Once the fireworks began, there were the usual sounds that rippled through the crowd. The older kids going "whoa!" and the little kids screaming with excitement over the bigger fireworks. The tipsy adults let out some whoops, and the sober ones said "cool." The fireworks in my city are the fanciest I've ever seen anywhere, choreographed perfectly to piped in music and showcasing crazy patterns and colors. There are ones that burst into geometric shapes, like hearts, and squares, and others that burst into wobbly pictures of smiley faces and planets with rings around them.

After the show had started for just a few minutes, a scraggley-voiced woman in the back of the crowd started yelling out what can only be described as...requests. She was obviously three sheets to the wind, this one, and she tipped her head back and screamed into the sky: "SHOW ME A HEART!!!!"

The fireworks went on, and so did she. "SHOW ME A HEART! C'MON! SHOW ME A HEART!" A minute went by, and there it was: an explosion of red that glittered a big bedazzled heart in the sky.

"SHOW ME A PLANET! HOW ABOUT A PLANET??" She went on. I looked back over my shoulder and caught a glimpse of her through the crowd. She had a look of complete faith on her face, as she shouted to the heavens. As soon as the planet glittered in the sky, she went on to the next request. I almost wanted to shout back "FREEBIRD!" or "STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN!" to mock this request-a-firework format, but then I didn't. Biology Girl, Jenny and I all smiled at each other, and had a good laugh about it on the walk home, but we (and no one else in the crowd as far as I could tell) didn't hinder her from the task at hand. The one that she requested most, yelled for the most, was the heart. "SHOW ME A HEART!" I found it to be so poetic, so heartbreaking, so funny, such a lonely-yet-jubilant plea to the sky.

Every time I see fireworks now, I think of this woman. And although I don't yell it out, I look up and I always, always think: show me a heart. Show me a heart.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I, too, loved that evening. Every year around the 4th I tell the "Show me a heart!" story to as many people as I can get away with. Beau-tee-ful!

Char said...

That was so sweet! Thanks for the memory.

Melinda said...

Well shit. How often does a 4th of July post bring an almost-tear to an unpatriotic girl like myself? Not often, my friend. This may be a first.

Anonymous said...

I just love your blog! You should really sit down and write something, you would definitely have a bestseller.

lesley said...

I heart your blog! At first, I couldn't imagine what you would write about if it wasn't all complaints about work or revelations of juicy personal life details. But now I know. There are actually lots of interesting things to say that have nothing to do with how annoying work can be or how outrageous we can be when we're drunk. And they can be said very well. It kind of reminds me of Nicholson Baker if he completely chilled out and knew who the Pussycat Dolls were.

Katie Kiekhaefer said...

Aww, that was such a nice, well-written post. I'm all choked up. Oh and I also think you should write a book regarding the coolness of librarians...

Anonymous said...

That night is definitely the most memorable 4th for me too. Well, that year and the one where we ended up standing in some bushes at the side of the road. This year I saw the smiley faces, but alas, I looked away for the one heart they showed in my small town. Sigh.