Today – let me alert you – was the Fourth of July.
It was nice to sit and watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with my mother who was delighted by my fresh eyes. I hadn’t seen it before and I thought it was a remarkable little film, the spirit of which is almost painful in the way it rings true today. Obviously, it’s not what it should be as we’ve grown as a nation in terms of representation, but that overarching message of honorable politics. Well…
For my part, I thought there was only the one true pairing of Jefferson Smith and Clarissa Saunders and watched on tenterhooks to see if the sarcastic, sauced-up cynic was going to win over the gleaming beauty it seemed he was head over heels for. It was so lovely to watch the scales fall from her eyes and drive Saunders to embrace an optimistic point of view, even as Smith reckons with all that Washington demands from a man just for the privilege of standing in its halls. I loved that and I loved being able to sit there, quietly, and enjoy it with my mom who instilled in me a love of the old black and white movies.
Then, we tried to go for some West Side Story, but my father came home along with a whole horde of other people (three other people) and suddenly, everything was a whirlwind. We made ribs, we made chicken, corn on the cob, watermelon, hot dogs, ice cream, pasta salad.
It’s odd to think, oh, there’s risk, there’s danger. She’s not okay. It’s just us cooking together. I keep having the forced realization that, oh, I can laugh still. I can still think about dudes. I can still want to lose weight. I can still be all messed up and kooky and self-involved. I can still tell my mom about my day. I can still sit with her and listen as she talks to my aunt. I can still let her cook food and gobble it up. I can still just bumble along without every moment needing to bear the sanctity of the diagnosis. Whatever that is, anyway. I wish I could just get this lesson and live it and not freak out about how I am being in the world.
I also had a lot of caffeine and sugar. More than was necessary. Nobody watches what I eat anymore, there’s no peanut gallery, no Greek Chorus, save the drowsy, understudy version in my head. And sometimes they sing and castigate me, but mostly they stumble around looking for the libretto.
Then, I drove with the sister, the boyfriend, the sister’s friend, the other sister out into the hinterlands and then back around to end up right smack in the single best fireworks-viewing spot that I can ever remember having. The caffeine and sugar, for just a moment, made me think I was fair game for a panic attack. That passed, though, and I could almost enjoy the display. There was a crying dog next to me and its upset made it hard to stare agog at the sky as it boomed and blazed my hearing and sight away.