The 4th of July has—had—no meaning for me. No birthdays, tadalafil diagnosis no anniversaries, viagra canada no remembrance of great parties where so-and-so hooked up with what’s-his-face and who’s-e-bob threw up in the geraniums. Yet here I am on a Metro North train, narrowing my gaze on some special 4th of July flip-flops that will always remind me of the day when Love—and this is where I get all mystical and fruity—stood up in the bleachers, waved its “I’m No.1″ foam finger at me and cried, “Yes, I do exist.”
Love and the 4th of July? I can feel you, my Australian kin. I feel you kicking your hackles into top gear. I sense your tongues engorged with insults, ready to paste me for my turncoat-edness.
“She’s shifted,” goes the cry. “Gone to the other side. Wrapped herself in Old Glory and hitched her caboose to the ‘Land of the Free’ locomotive. Recall her Australian passport at once! She is Abraham Lincoln sans beard! She is an apple pie!”
Not so, mates. I’m still as Australian as Paul Hogan’s undies. But just between you me and the lead-soaked wall of my Upper Eastside apartment, I have been knocked in the conk by amore. But not in the way you might be thinking.
I mean like an apparition suddenly caught in the X-Files flashlight, I saw Love exposed and in the flesh.
Think of me on this day, this 4th of July. Frocked up—some would say gussied is a better word, but I opt for frocked—and spellbound on the sandy shores of New Haven, Connecticut. The earth has conspired with God to bake the perfect day. Imagine a cool breeze flirting through sundresses, a sun that kisses everyone in a pre-sunset seduction. A preacher. A wedding party on a beach. Faces turned, open and honest, toward the show.
A wedding. I went to a wedding on the 4th of July.
Things fold in to form a memory for everyone, like flavors into a cake. Here are the ingredients for this day. The ceremony tips the scales in heaviness; he talks big stuff, this preacher, this hand of God. The heaviness, it groans and lumbers and makes its presence known to all, though does not strain against the exultant air. We ride that too. Vows, commitment, betrothal, rings. Tears and joy. The air is heavy with it. Emotions mingle and look down on us all. Love takes notes for later. For the press release and questions from the gallery.
Tom and Sally wear their joy on their faces like war paint. Their bodies sing it, thrum so loudly with it that it reverbs and knocks me. The cynic in me dies a sweet death. My eyes are made honest by looking. Up there, at the sandy altar, it seems hearts are bursting reforming and bursting again. My happiness for their happiness…it causes my scalp to tingle in the twilight. The night escalates. The joy is telecast in satellite on a thousand different channels.
Fold and fold until the mix is seamless. The flavors made one.
Friends, families, wedding party, held hostage by the day. Cocktails, wine, shrimp, oysters shucked and glistening, and served in the pavilion on the shore. Flower girls flutter, children of magic, like fairies in a midnight garden. Their job is just to be, to enjoy their dresses and bathe and twirl in the compliments. Roll around in it, absorb.
The finely carved horses of the ancient carousel in the pavilion carry guests proudly, faces caught in permanent afterglow. Twinkling lights, carousel music and magic again. It is a wonderland worthy of Hollywood. The alcohol is only half responsible for my current interpretation. I chow down on the wedding fare. The whole event is so casual, so relaxed, so laid back. The vibe so good it should be prescription medication. I ask you, how can you look at this and say that Joy is not Love’s favorite cousin?
Later, I think for a good half-hour about a suitable guest-wall entry before marching up there. I have nothing. The inspiration cupboard has been raided by the idea weevils. I get to the board, pen in hand, and hear the squeal of brakes and smell the burnt rubber as the cliché bus pulls up behind me. I let out an audible gasp when I read what I have just scrawled in pure beer-eeze, (the international language of the hops for those who study it at university). My scrawl involves a ‘best wishes’ sentiment.
That’s the problem with clichés. I do wish them the best, but it sounds so…like I just washed their windscreen at the gas station and I didn’t like their crummy $1 tip. Fake and awful. And so not what I wish for them.
Around nine, I go outside the pavilion. The 4th of July fireworks are blooming in fast-motion all around the periphery. Over here, over there. Across the water, in the distance, nearby. Blues, purples, reds. I eye my patriot flip-flops—personally selected for me by Tom’s niece, the flower girl. I salute the casual joy they embody as part of this celebration. Love invisible ambles up beside me after grabbing a wine glass, and watches the spectacle of this American tradition with me. It whispers ‘cheers’ to my conscience. I fold it in to my memory. And fold once more with gusto.
Bodies wriggle on the dance floor as the band, Sevenender, kicks the night square in the privates. Fold and fold again. The band, strong and willing, eggs on the jive. It’s all giddy bliss now. The alcohol and the infectious smiles of the bride and groom have combined and taken a heavy brush to us all. It seeps in to our skin and coats us. I feel like my soul has just been queer-eyed for the straight guy. The air gets a thick lick of it too. I swim helpless, yet willing.
I may have seemed—to all observers—simply drunk. And of course I was. But not just in the usual way. Usually, I only feel happy for myself. But this day, I am happy for them—so happy for these two people—because here is Love. Plump and juicy and an attendant at their wedding. Visible on this day, this 4th of July.
And even today, sitting in the crappiest Metro North train known to man with a rainy day slapping the window beside me, with muggy air leveling a beady eye at me, and a bagel hot in my hands, even today I still feel bathed in the surreal glow of it all. Love. Still present. There is goes. It drips from my eyelashes and on to the yellow pages of my notebook as I write.
Toodle Noo. Here endeth the missive.
©Janeen McCrae 2004