Still not feeling great, so this got typed out on my phone at 3am while babysitting the health issues that settle into my vulnerable body on occasion. Rather than dwell on that, I’ll share a happy little story. In times like these, where I’m overwhelmed with pain and ugly emotions, these stories are where my brain likes – and should – go. Writing is fun and these little tales are always my cathartic oases to live in again, if only for a little while. So, today this is more for me than you. Anyway.
As I have mentioned, my friends in Houston celebrated holidays with us. A handful of us grew up in the area and we would on occasion make pilgrimages to their parents’ homes, generously opened to us and filled with food and laughter. Our friends’ folks were always so happy to share their home with this extended family that had sprung up around their children. It was nice to feel like we belonged.
One year, a weekend or so after the fourth of July, we had gone to celebrate at my friend Bryan’s parents’ house. I love Bryan’s folks. They might take issue with this description, but they’re both just really damn cool. They’re funny, clever people who shared some of our interests… And generally were willing to indulge us as we chatted about whatever inane topic was at hand.
We were cooking and hanging out when Bryan’s dad needed to run to the store for supplies. I decided to tag along to help carry things and to keep him company. On the drive we chatted casually and the topic of fireworks came up. I’d shared with him the exploits of my husband’s youth; the trouble of mixing himself, his brothers, and explosives. (Stories to share here for another day – statute of limitations and all that.) I lamented that we’d missed the small window to purchase them to cause our own trouble this year. In Texas, it had been extremely dry that summer, so few counties had allowed their sale. His folks lived far into the burbs, so we could have bought them… But every stand we spotted along our drive had closed up – we were too late.
“Man. It just FEELS wrong not to have something sparkling and exploding this time of year.”
“That it does.”
I chuckled and then suggested, offhand, facetiously, “I mean, I guess we could make do with road flares or something.”
Bryan’s dad laughed and IMMEDIATELY throws their car into an O’Reillys Auto Parts parking lot we happened to be passing. And you know what? He marched right in and BOUGHT ME A SET OF ROAD FLARES. I sat in the car in stunned silence while he went in, paid, walked out, and plopped them in my lap.
We laughed all the way back to their house. I laughed as I relayed the story to our gang. And I kept the road flares for a long time. The memory every time I looked at them just produced this instant smile… More joy than any momentary explosion or incendiary device could bring. So thanks, Mr. Bryan’s dad. You’re great.