I sat and watched them walking by like a parade, carrying little plastic coolers, pushing baby carriages, a collapsible chair over one shoulder. Echoing through the alley and over little brick houses, music emanated, muffled but audible. I still couldn’t believe this was my neighborhood—these were my neighbors, now.
All over the city sat invitations to various parties and B-B-Q’s. I was ignoring them, not because I didn’t want to see my friends, but because I simply didn’t feel like leaving.
Sometimes being alone meant being lonely, even if it was my own doing.
The sun began its descent, softening the day into evening, as the cicadas began humming along to the distant music. The parade continued, as families rolled by, children carrying little American flags to wave into the night, overweight, Italian fathers trailing behind a step or two, smoking.
A part of me wished there was someone sitting on the front stoop next to me, watching the evening unfold, but I knew that was just folly.
A loud snap and pop of roadside firecrackers going off in the alley, the product of children, temporarily pulled me free from my thoughts, as another family walked by with folding chairs and rolled up blankets.
Cars rolled by slowly, hoping in vain to find a spot close to the action as the parade route lengthened.
Every once in a while, I smiled as a random person made eye contact. Nobody smiled back. Maybe they could tell mine was inauthentic.
When I was younger, I lived in an old apartment over a bar in a busy part of the city—a constant buzz of activity hustled and bustled below my livingroom every day and night. I used to sit in the window and watch, desperately wanting to join the madness below.
But this time I was content sitting on my front steps, smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer, merely witnessing life roll by— slightly outside of it all.
It wasn’t dark yet, but it was getting there. Soon, the parade would slow, eventually stopping. Soon my neighbors to the left and right would find their way into their front yards and the street to watch the explosions of color; temporary, pre-CGI, pre-Floyd laser-light show eye candy.
I didn’t have to be alone…I chose it.
Over the past few months I had questioned time and time again if I had made the right choice, a conclusion I still hadn’t fully come to. But as a warm summer breeze cut across my body, that question became moot, if for just that one brief, shining moment. Fleeting as it may have been, for that one snapshot in time, I felt content.
I wasn’t sure if someone in my position should even be allowed such a feeling, but as the lightning bugs began glowing around me, I didn’t care. I was going to sit back and enjoy the show.
“Happy Independence day,” I thought to myself, as I took another drink and looked upward to the heavens.