I found America (aka sad Columbus)


This Fourth of July, I decided to take a break from partying, and going to the lake, and chose to just stay home. After a day, wasted watching the “who dunnit” shows, on Netflix, I thought, “I should walk to cliff park, where I can see all of downtown, including the fireworks being set off by the city. In my fashion, I rolled a couple of joints, and set out on my journey.

Being careful to avoid the other parks on my way, where families were gathered, I took a bunch of back roads, contentedly puffing on my first joint. As I walked, I looked around, and took in the view. For those that are not from the northwest, you should know, just how beautiful the trees, and mountains are, this area is often described as “God’s Country” for good reason. I took in the architecture, and pondered about the houses, most are nearing 100 years old, and how some were huge, likely estates, next to some smaller humble craftsman style houses. All of them bursting with charm, looking warm, and inviting.

I finished up the joint, feeling a little lighter, and waiting for those familiar creeper sensations. Right as it started to hit, I was arriving at the view point. The city had closed the road, to accommodate the crowds, and the fire department was parked, and showing some kids through the Rescue Truck. Many families had spent the day there, under a blazing hot sun, to ensure that they were right at the edge of the cliff, getting the best view they could. The air was filled with the smell of the woods. In the middle of a city, behind the houses of families, well endowed, and living in opulence. By the scent, you would have sworn you were in the woods.

Many of us were shuffling around, trying to accommodate those shorter, so they would be able to see. Looking around, I could see the anticipation in the eyes of children, and sense the stress from parents, whose children had been loaded up on sugar, and were restless.

10 p.m. “BOOM BOOM” the fireworks have begun. At first, it was just what you’d expected. Kids shuffling around to get to the cliffs edge, parents frantically trying to control their spawn. Then it happened. I saw the America that I had grown up in.

These days, it seems, we are all so on edge. Everyone is at each other’s throat. Hating one another, for such simple, stupid reasons. Everyone is offended by everything. People think we shouldn’t celebrate the nation that we grew up in, immigrated to, live in. This is so bizarre to me; I have been raised with, and always held such pride in America. A nation, where we can do basically anything, within reason. We were the country that others looked to, to try to emulate, to find the key to the success that the U.S. had. We were a nation that grew, and thrived faster than any other nation, as countries go, we are pretty darn young.

I hear people all the time these days say “We are living in a police state…We aren’t free….America has never done anything good.” All of this makes me crazy, we are far from a police state, we get to travel around our country freely, we have a say in the direction our country goes in. Sure, some politicians are dirty, but that was our fault, allowing them to take money from corporations, and continually voting in those, that have been corrupt, inept, and uninterested in those they represent. Also, we are able to say all of these things, without risk of being beheaded. In my humble opinion, that makes us pretty damn great.

So there I am, half watching the fireworks, half people watching. Then it happened. A great flash in the sky, suddenly, the adults were oohing, and ahhing along with their children. I could see the misty eyes of reflection, certainly they must have been thinking like myself, of Fourth of July celebrations long past. Running around with sparklers, scaring friends, and sibling with secreted fire crackers. Watching large firework displays in your front yard, and watching the neighbor’s shows as well. Neighborhood barbecues, riding our bikes around, smelling the sulfur of premature ignitions. The Fourth was one of the greatest days of the year, the innocence of childhood preventing you from realizing that those fireworks were representative of the bombs, and artillery of the war that was fought when we made the original Brexit.

I watched as every adult I could see, started to smile. Not a large smile for pictures, not a small and smug smile, but instead it was that smile we  all get when remembering things we are fond of, the type of smile that you don’t even realize people can notice.

In those reminiscent eyes, and those pleasant smiles, I saw the America we once were, and hopefully will be again. You could feel the crowd’s attitudes changing, it felt like we were all children again, untainted by the pressures of adulthood, and learned prejudice, it felt like family there.

People turned and spoke to those next to them, stranger or not. As the fireworks ended, we all started to cheer, and applaud. We turned to each other, and discussed our favorite of the fireworks; we wished those around us a happy Independence Day.

As I walked home, alone, smoking my second joint, I could not help but smile. To see that, to see everyone put aside their differences, and enjoy the company of others, like the brothers and sisters that we all were. To see us all unite as one, for any reason, was refreshing. It showed me that things will be okay. Once we all unite and say enough is enough, we will whip this country, and one another, right back into shape. As for me, I am ready, and I am a proud American. This country isn’t always easy to love, but we always get through it, together. I love you America, and all of the people here.