It was a beautiful night; the kind of evening that makes one wish they’d realized how nice it was outside sooner so that one could have been ending, not starting, the day that way.
That didn’t make much sense, but go with it.
I sat on the steps of the library, talking to my mom on my cell phone. I sometimes get self-conscious when I just sit in public places. Seeds of paranoia take root in my brain and suddenly every passer-by thinks I’m a lunatic, judging me for calmly sitting on the concrete steps, gazing off into the downtown skyline. No, somewhere along the way I fell victim to some mass-produced, un-cultural ideal that Just Sitting is Just Weird. I combat the imagined weirdness by creating actual weirdness, usually involving my cell phone (fittingly enough, another mass-produced, un-cultural ideal). I call random people to leave rambling voice mail messages that I hope they never check. I send asinine and forced text messages. I scroll through my phone’s limited options and change the wallpaper, banner, and color scheme. Sometimes, if I’m feeling especially awkward, I invent an actual cell phone conversation. This usually happens when I get the feeling that someone is watching me and wondering what the fuck I’m doing, Just Sitting there all by myself. These neuroticism-induced conversations are generally Very Urgent in the hopes that whoever is watching and judging me will, indeed, leave me the Fuck Alone.
Uh, so, anyway.
It was beautiful, this evening. I sat there waiting to catch a glimpse of a local fireworks display commemorating whatever it is that the Fourth of July commemorates. I neurotically sat, my actual cell phone conversation ended, in neurotic anticipation. I’d catch an occasional peek of some backyard display–the kind that are generally followed up by whooping and hollering and the tossing of empty beer cans into the sky (and, in my hometown, by the sound of shotgun blasts in the direction of said beer cans). And as entertaining as these sporadic bursts were, I couldn’t track down the source of the distant booming that I was sure signified a more well-organized and potentially sober display.
So I got walkin’. I’d go a few blocks, looking over my shoulder every few feet (and I wonder where my paranoia comes from) and straining my ears to determine the source of far-off, fireworks-esque, noises. Every once in awhile, I’d see a burst of light over a distant treeline, and I’d take off…well, not quite running, –but run-walking, let’s call it. As I’d approach the source, I’d inevitably discover that it was another Joe Schmoe and his stack of bottle rockets and Black Cats. Alas.
Repeat this scene a few more times, and throw in one-or-two more Very Urgent make-believe phone calls to throw off the Watching and Judging, and you’ve got a pretty good mental image of the next half-hour of my evening.
But, as you’ve probably anticipated, I was ready to give up when I saw a very distinct grouping in the sky that was undeniably a professional display. What luck! I ran (an actual run this time) back to the steps of the library (almost falling to my death when I tried to sit on a stone wall that backed up to about a three-story drop) and watched for awhile. My love for fireworks is damn-near insatiable, however, and just seeing brightly-colored specks between two buildings and over a thicket of trees was not enough to satisfy me. So I took off again, in an actual direction this time, moving with purpose (thought not so purpose-driven as to not need just one more Very Urgent call).
The closer I walked to the source of the display, however, the less I could see. I was almost back to my own building when my singular Good Idea for the evening struck me. Climbing the stairs to the third floor, I looked out the window at the end of the hallway. Right there, in front of my weary little eyes, was the Perfect View of the downtown display. There it was, just a few floors above my own apartment this entire time.
A rather satisfying ending to what began as a rather unsatisfying day.