Last week I wrote about suicide and the death of a man I worked with only briefly. It posed some hard questions and drew some unpopular conclusions. Not surprisingly, it also brought in a lot of commentary and a bit of debate. So this week, I’ll keep it light by sharing how I spent July 4th in Atlanta.
To be honest, I didn’t have big plans for Independence Day. I’m not American, so it doesn’t mean to me what it does to most people in the US. I barely celebrate Jamaica’s independence, much less someone else’s. My initial plan was to stay home and catch up on work, which I am still hopelessly behind on.
After working way too hard Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, however, I decided a small break was in order. So at the very last minute, I piggy-backed on my family’s plans to attend a barbecue in Decatur.
The food and the company was good and I even managed to find time to work through some edits for The Moreau Witches. I’ve been swamped with client work, so my book hasn’t been getting as much attention as it should this past month.
After the barbecue, Mom decided she wanted to see fireworks in Midtown. Finding parking was surprisingly easy, considering how many people had taken over the Beltline. I usually don’t go out on Independence Day, so it was really surprising to see how excited Americans were. Was it the day off or actual patriotism?
I—like most minorities and immigrants I know—am wary of White Americans with US stickers on their trucks and the flags flying on their front porch. In my experience, nine times out of ten these were racist and xenophobic rednecks who made their contempt known in no uncertain terms.
So, it wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world being surrounded by Americans with flag-prints on their faces, shirts, hats, shoes, and jewellery—and in the south, no less. A lot of them were drunk though, which at least made them amusing.
As the sky began to darken, we prepared for the show of fireworks so long anticipated. But, the lights had not been two minutes in the sky when the first roll of thunder came. Then there was a drizzle. And a heavy shower. And lightning.
The large crowd dispersed and we all went running to Ponce City Market. Dad and I were in the lead, while mum and grandma ended up somewhere behind. Once we made it to Ponce, I watched and waited for them.
Finally, I saw them running by. I called after them but they couldn’t hear me, so back into the rain I went to fetch them. At this point, Dad—being the gentleman he is—went back into the rain to fetch the car and asked us to meet him around the front entrance of Ponce City Market.
Inside, half of us were soaked to the bone, while the other half who had just strolled in wondered what on earth had befallen us. The line to the bathroom was longer than the road to salvation, as women flocked to the heaters to dry their clothes. I had no such interest. I felt the walk through the rain was actually kind of therapeutic.
In about fifteen minutes, Dad called to say he was out front but stuck in traffic. He often picks me up from Ponce, so it was easy for me to spot him, but much harder to drag mum and grandma along.
As we drove away from Ponce City Market the rain miraculously stopped and the fireworks recommenced. I’m sure CBS was happy for that, having come out to get footage of the show.
By then we were much too far away and there was far too much traffic to turn back. So, we found parking on the side of the street, walked up a small hill, and stood behind an apartment building, catching glimpses of the fireworks that made it over their roof.
It was not the evening we had planned, but it was a memorable one all the same. As we drove home, mum turned to grandma and said, “Well Mama, you can’t say you never saw fireworks in the city for Independence Day.”
“Yes, but even my panties are wet!” Mama exclaimed.
What is tact to a Jamaican?! 😅😂🤣
I hope you all had a drier 4th of July with brilliant fireworks, good food and great company. See you this time, next week—or maybe sooner! 🤔
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