Your weird uncle’s been twisting wicks all afternoon. Potato salad sits on horse-fly-orbited paper plates till it’s heat-cooked into mush. You’ll still eat two forkfuls at 9pm. Your weird uncle will help.
There’s a parcel of odd statements that could make this day up for us — 4th of July sets the United States into an outbreak of family kindness, patriotism, and ease of speed. We drive slower on the roads. We don’t even drive, really. We lawnchair in the driveway. There’s something unifying about that, though, in the cliche of it all: we find ourselves mostly off work together, mostly thinking about fireworks and food together, and everyone hopes to make exciting, substantial time with everyone else. That’s not a paltry unification. That’s a merciful one, if you ask me. A natural, country-wide mercy.
The joy I’ve had as a kid during the 4th has not left me. I’m thankful for the sense of conglomeration it provides today; friends want to be friends without question of event, because the event is apparent. I remember stringing M80s together and blowing hucks off salt licks, the farm crew of family friends all yelping at the explosion. We were a unit of 12-years-olds. We ate and played, even if we couldn’t garner the reason of the celebration. The reason didn’t matter. We were young and running around — and that’s the mercy of it. We could run around without reason. The parents didn’t care. Nobody cared. And in that non-caring? There was care for us, our souls, for all 4th of July celebrations to follow.
This year, The Curator’s writers and editors all want to offer you a smooth, celebratory high-five of freedom. We hope you are cared for by the mercy of the day’s speed, its potato salad allowance, its friendliness. We don’t have to agree on anything in this country, at this known hour, to celebrate that we live within its various mercies at all other hours. This hour is your hour, this hour is my hour. The land these hours happen in we can be thankful for today. We can run around this land like kids. We can make time. We can be unified with kin and strangers as we watch the pop of colored heat cook into our retinas, come 9pm. And that weird uncle, which many of us have, can enjoy his own self-made pop of color in the driveway — proud of each fountain, each bottle rocket, each whirl and whoop. Proud, whether he knows it or not, of the opportunity to create light and heat and joy for his family on an easy day. Proud, even as Neil Diamond’s Coming To America plays in the background of his mind. Today is the day we can love that weird uncle.