On the 4th of July, Mr. and Mrs. Dance asked if I would like to go see the fireworks with their group. I said no, for I had not showered that day. It is a strange thing that is not easy to explain to others, and indeed is difficult to make sense of to myself, but when I do not bathe for even a day, I feel like I should not be seen in public. I am slimy and unpleasant to both touch and sight. Even if it is dark, and even if no one will be able to smell me through the scent of their cigarettes, it is very hard to get me to go outside.
But after they left, my resolve wavered. I do love fireworks, and this was my first 4th in a new city. What was I doing? Why was I allowing myself to hide away?
Suddenly it seemed very important that I should go. Even if I did not see fireworks because of my delay, it was vital that I should at least try. Still finding myself unable to venture outdoors without showering, I hopped in and out in a remarkable ten minutes. Now, I was ready for this! I could do it! I quickly dressed and grabbed a jacket on my way out the door. Mr. and Mrs. Dance were by now long gone, of course, so I was left to my own devices. They had said "bridge," but I noticed that they had taken the car, so wherever they were was likely out of walking distance. I couldn't think of any bridges nearby that were high enough or had a clear view, so I decided to go up the hill.
I had only advanced one street when I realized that I was at a nearly perfect spot. A rusty wrought iron fence stood between me and the backyards down below, and aside for a few tall trees, my line of sight was clear. There was one other soul there, a random man of middle age, who was delighted to have company, and he told of his tentative plans, his inventions, his family, and his various hopes. He kept on saying "It's so beautiful," to both the night and the fireworks we saw. It hardly seemed real. When we saw smaller fireworks in the streets beneath us, he would mention crossing over to West Virginia to get "local" fireworks. I could scarcely believe it. Did I really live here? Was I really that close to a state that sounded so far away?
Yes, yes, you really do live here, Nature had me know. I had no bug repellant on, so the mosquitos were eating me alive. On went the jacket.
Mr. and Mrs. Dance may have had one show, but I had an entire horizon of them. I had fireworks beyond hills beyond hills beyond hills into the smoke beyond. This fellow and I moved up and down the street, seeing displays from the right, the left, directly in front, all over! As I watched and pointed out my favorite ones, I felt ... relieved. My first holiday here, and I did something. I could say to myself, "Anne, as long as you are still breathing, there hope for you."