Sunday, August 13, 2017

July 4, 1994

(Originally published July 4, 2006)

The next 4th of July that stands out in my mind was in the early 1990s, before I got married.

I was home from gradschool in Tallahassee, but it wasn't a real vacation because was completely paralyzed with with heartbreak.

It had gone on for about six weeks, and my parents had no reason to believe this holiday would get me out of bed, dressed, eating, happy.

Somehow my mom got me to go to the store with her.

Getting out of the house was a big deal because I was completely and ridiculously obsessed with being fat, with looking fat, with how I looked and how certain I was that I was not fit for human eyes. I didn't want to leave the house only to be viewed, discarded, seen and scorned.

I was probably over-the hill, turn-the-corner-to-crazyland delirious from starving myself for months. Eating disorders are only funny if you don’t have to live with one. I was paralyzed and suffocating. Not writing at all.

My mom and I bought some sparklers so that we could entertain my grandparents that evening. At least that was her story then – now I see that her real game was to get me moving, back on my feet, functioning again.

As we were pulling out of the parking lot, a truck in front of us took off a bit too quickly, and a big brown box slid out of its flat bed.

Mom said “get it!” and a surge of curiosity and Scarface-like intrigue gave me sudden burst of courage to jump out of the car, grab the box & toss it in the trunk.

Roman Candles. A big box of them. More fireworks than I’d seen in my life.

We aren’t poor, but fireworks – especially the ostentatious kind – are sorta a waste of money,

That night we had a wonderful time – my parents, grandparents, me – running with Roman Candles in our own personal Olympic relay around the poor. Dancing with them (everyone was sober, so it was ok), laughing with them.

Abuelo got out an American flag and BB gun, and he and I marched around the pool on patrol.
My dad took a bunch of pictures of the whole event.

Have you seen them? I’m wearing a peach shirt with a navy collar.

I still think look great in those pictures, not too skinny, too serious, to lonely or too sad, like people kept telling me.