The familiar boom in my chest, that shuddered my insides brought comfort. For as long as I can remember, going to see the fireworks at the end of the Strawberry Festival was an annual event for me. Even when the rumble in my rib cage took place somewhere else, it was always a reminder of home. It was a constant that used to hurt my ears, and stream tears from my eyes, but as I’ve gotten older, the boom is a joy I had not known before. The streaming colors can change, the sparkles taking different forms, but the roar has always remained the same. While the explosions reigned over the sky, Frank Sinatra’s New York would always play along. This year was no different. I mouthed along to the tune, knowing each word. People cheered at the sight of light illuminating the sky.
The only thing that had changed this particular year was the person I was with. Each year, I had been with my family, even through the divorce, my brothers and I would go with either our mom or dad. We may have moved from our childhood home, spread to a another part of town, and befriended new people, but the effort was always made to go to the Strawberry Festival that took place each year on the east end. This year I had went with a friend. I looked over and saw them smiling, hoping that this moment meant to them what it meant to me. I wish that one second had lasted forever. But I know for a fact it hadn’t, because the first boom that was resonating in my chest had already been replaced by another, and the tune continued to the next lyric.
At this point, smoke was collecting where people placed chairs to sit and watch. This was a sign that the finale was coming. The best part, and the worst part. I returned my attention to the sky as the finale was beginning. They threw everything they had into the sky all at once. Thunder after thunder, boom after boom, another one would start within my rib cage before the first one had even finished. What had once frightened me, now invigorated me, and all the past memories would flood into my brain, bringing in a wave of nostalgia. Reminders of home; the sand slipping through my toes, getting stuck between the tiniest of crevices as a token to show where I had been. The seagulls that seem to infest the island, as pigeons do New York City. But then come the moments that no one wants to remember. Losing friends who were never truly friends, moving, the announcement of the split . My eyes began to glisten as I felt each and every emotion at once, from every moment that had touched me. The island is usually a place where peaceful memories happen, but it’s also where life happens, and the things we didn’t think would ever happen to us. My thoughts had gotten out of control, and my head was spinning with times full of dread, wonder, anger, and delight. I had grown up on the island, and have been changed the same way water erodes rock. I had changed so much since the first time I watched explosions light up the sky. By the time the final boom leaves my chest and the crowd cheered, a tear had rolled down my cheek.
“Whoa, are you okay?” They were concerned, as no one ever knew the sentiment that it held for me, and the visions that would surge over me.
“Yeah, yeah,” I rub my cheek and clear my eyes, “I’m fine. Just something got in my eye.” I thought it odd to think that a simple thing as fireworks could represent every experience as a whole on the island. Never does just one go off without another one to follow. I put on a smile. “Pretty cool, huh?”
They smiled back, “It was. Well, my parents are here, so, see you on Monday?”
“O.K., see ya then.” I hugged them, and they walked away.
Another memory for the books.