I want to remember this day, the 4th, forever. It was your first time seeing fireworks. In fact, I just want to record a forever moment. Two days have passed and I haven’t had the time to write it down, and now the house is asleep and it’s past midnight, and I’m fighting sleep and trying to scratch this memory down for you. For us.
This year, your father’s coworker invited us to his family’s lake house near Mt. Shasta. We drove up the gorge, past waterfalls on the right and windsurfers on the left, until we turned inland and drive through seemingly endless country roads and pastures. And then, suddenly, we were in a hamlet of vacation homes, pine trees, and a big, sprawling lake. I want a lake house now too, and see the value of it. A place to vacation every year, to form lasting bonds and memories. To help form you. A boat to take us out on the water, and water to jump and splash and swim in. And a large yard dominated by Canadian geese who eat the grass down to the roots and stubs. A regulation horseshoe game. A hammock. A fire pit. Corn hole. BBQ. Tents and stars. I want that for us. Better start saving.
Your dad’s coworker/friend, John, has a pontoon boat that he bought with his brother. Someone else also got a pontoon boat, and decorated it for the holiday and took it out on the lake, playing dance music and laughing, and John got out his binoculars to study it and compare it to his. Up until this holiday his was the only Pontoon. Now, there are two, one better than the other (though which? His is faster. Theirs has a new coat of paint.) We played on the sprawling lawn, and they had a kiddie pool that you dipped your fingers in. We had a blanket spread out over the bare grass, and plastic folding chairs for some of the adults. Every afternoon, we went out on the boat. Your dad set up your travel crib, and I fed you a bottle each time, and the full belly with rocking boat lulled you to sleep. We placed you in the crib and, even with classic rock playing, you were out, in a deep sleep. And then we played.
We jumped in the water and I swam and swam and swam. On the second day, I did go in an inner tube for a bit but, for the most part, I chose to swim. It felt so good, so freeing. So warm and cool. An eagle soared ahead and we yelled ‘Merica!’ and Metallica and Tom Petty and other old school boy bands played from the speakers. When it was my turn for the music we heard techno and Portuguese. Getz and Gilberto. Samba. We drank beer and cheap champagne from red dixi cups.
On the fourth, after the sun tucked in and the sky turned low, we set out in the boat again, coasting on the slick black, John taking us to the lake’s heart. And for a little while, you were awake with us, and you watched as, from the entire perimeter of the lake, fireworks erupted in sparkling balls of flame. You were mesmerized. The sky was dark and the lake black, and the lights brassy and colorful. You turned your head to watch them and tried to peer around me when I got in the way. Together, we watched a finale that rivaled what cities spend on their fireworks. It must’ve been a thousand dollars of color and flame, choreographed perfectly.
When we pulled back to the dock, I slipped you into a baby sleeping bag that I’d bought at a garage sale, and had you asleep at my feet, on the grass, as we sat around a fire pit and set up the simple fireworks I’d bought from the grocery store. And then, late into the night when everything was done and every wick lit, we drew our evening to a close and I took you inside.
But that time, between the black sky and the pitch black water, in the heart of a hidden lake, watching fireworks erupt all around us, and their booming blasts erupting alongside the lights and bouncing off the mountains… That was an experience I’d like to remember forever, kiddo.
I hope we can do it again someday, maybe from our own little boat on the water.
- Mama xoxoxox