It was July 4th, 2015.
I remember I was dog-sitting for my best friend. The dog and I were chilling in my apartment, listening to music.
Stomach growling, my nutritional intake consisted of a burgundy concoction of liquors. I called myself trying to escape the realities of low funds and no major food in my pantry.
There was the promise of food from an old friend, though. Well, he was more than a friend, but we were in an area that I couldn’t call grey. It was a colorful confusion but no less gloomy.
It was weird. That entire period was just weird. But, I think we both did what we could to hold on to the brighter side of things. Goodbye was never part of our vocabulary because that created a finality neither one of us wanted.
Earlier that day, I had sent him a text to see if he didn’t mind bringing me a plate of food from his family function. My sister didn’t plan on barbecuing, and my friend was off on a cruise, which is why I was dog-sitting. I had jack squat in my fridge, and although it may have been cute to tote the Yorkie around to get food, it wasn’t the best option for me. At any rate I was drinking heavily.
I avoided hitting up my ex after the initial food request because he wasn’t obligated to bring me any food. I could’ve very well cooked some rice and cooked up some green peas, and called it a night. Besides, he agreed to bring food by my place. Although my stomach was growling, and my mind swimming in drink, my heart was thirstier and hungrier than both mind and stomach combined.
Time went from daylight to evening, then from evening to late night. As the sun had set, so had my inhibitions with each sip of my libation in a tall cup. It was no longer the 4th of July. It was the late hours most people would spend masturbating or fucking after a long day of dancing, playing Spades, and binge eating on pork parts and fixings.
The bass from my surround sound didn’t compare to the pops and booms created from the last bit of fireworks that exploded in the neighborhood’s midnight sky. It could’ve been gunfire, but at that time, the liquor had numbed my emotions just enough not to care if I’d be wounded by a stray bullet.
And with my drinking, came recollection and minor regrets. It was 2015, I was jobless, penniless, and loveless. As strong as I wanted to be, I allowed myself to just feel every bit of those situations. Still, I was numb. I received a jolt of feelings after my ex texted me to inquire if I still would like a plate.
He went on to explain that he got held up with family and cleaning. At that moment, I was just happy that he texted me. I told him that whatever he could bring would be fine because it was late; that’s if he still wanted to come by.
By then, it was after 1 AM, and there I was waiting in my big chair, listening to mellow tunes, still sipping, still reflecting. My Yorkie companion rested his tiny, furry head on my knee, sleeping his doggie troubles away. I found myself scanning my living room, just to take everything in, and there, I saw it.
I was a firework and he was my flame.
Behind my TV, but still visible, was a purple octagonal box collecting dust. It was fireworks. My dad gave me the fireworks July of 2014, and I brought it home with no real intentions to light it. However, with the liquor in me, while also in my feelings, I figured it’d be the perfect time to light it up to give me a show. I just didn’t want to do it alone.
So, my mind told me to just wait until my ex came, then ask if he wanted to see a fireworks show. By this time, I reached the end of my tall drink of random, and it was almost 3 AM. Sometime between drinking, music, and contemplating arson, my ex showed up at the door with a few foil-covered plates.
I’m not sure what fully came over me, but the fact that this man brought me food, at such a late hour, killed the numb feelings I had. My mind and body quickly switched back to a space of familiar emotions and motions. Open the door, smile at him, he walks in, sits things down, he smiles back, and then we embrace.
We were not strangers. We were good friends. We were lovers. Now, we were just standing there, not sure what to do with each other. It’s not easy to forget or let go of something with such thick history. What felt like several minutes of staring and longing, were only a few seconds. Then, I hugged him.
Now the hug, the hug felt like it lasted forever. I held him tight, and he held me tighter. Because of his frame, I had no choice but to look up at him, and I told him to kiss me. Before he could really respond, my aggressive yet exhausted nature took over. I told him to shut up and not worry about any bullshit, and just hug and kiss me.
I desired to be ignited by a familiar flame. I was a firework, full of amazing energy and promise, ready to show my amazing capabilities. At that moment, I needed him to be my flame. I wasn’t looking for sex. For me, I just wanted to feel connected to someone who knew me well enough.
Why are we doing this?
That hug was necessary, and so was the kiss. After what seemed like an eternity of embrace, I remember taking his hand while asking him to sit with me on my big chair. I ignored the excitement of my Yorkie friend, who had awakened from his slumber just to bark my ex’s ear off, as we were sitting down.
I remember small talk and awkward moments, until liquid courage tapped me on the shoulder to ask him a serious question: Why are we doing this? Oddly, my ex wasn’t confused by the question, nor did he try to play it off as me being drunk. We both were puzzled. We both didn’t know why we were not together..
There was no special circumstances or wrongdoing holding us back from just existing as a team of two lovers. Why couldn’t he still be the lighter to my fireworks? The frustration was real enough for me to cry, and I did while resting my head on his shoulder. None of it made sense. None of it. Yet, there we were, two lovers who for some odd reason couldn’t love each other in the ways we desired.
The beauty was that we constantly tried, but it wasn’t enough.
I can’t recall what else was said, but I just know that for that brief moment, I needed him as himself, as the man that loved me for me. I needed him to step back into the world we had created where nonprofits, blog posts, and events didn’t exist. I wanted to feel those date nights on Saturdays and those jogs at Stone Mountain Park all over again.
I wanted to see fireworks. Our fireworks. It was bright and obvious just by the way we’d look at each other. The fireworks of cooking dinners, thoughtful gestures, cuddling, and lame giggling. It was an amazing display. A light work of love.
As I wiped my tears of frustration away, I zoned in on the fireworks behind my TV. One thing my ex and I never did as a couple was see fireworks together. Here was the chance for us to see it, but it’d be only as friends. I walked over to the TV stand, snatched up the box, then asked him if he’d like to join me in setting off the dusty container of legal explosives.
And then, there were fireworks.
So, me, the Yorkie, and my ex went out into the late night, hastily walking to the end of my complex’s parking lot. I sat the box down and took out my lighter.
Before I could let the flame touch the fuse, my ex asked about making noise and disturbing my neighbors. I was cavalier in my response because fireworks had been popping all day, along with gunshots up until midnight – basically, I was like “fuck those neighbors.”
The lighting of the fireworks then became somewhat ceremonial. I found myself speaking a great life of love and happiness into existence. I remember hoping that the universe would reveal our destinies to us, and I remember deeply wishing that my ex and I would still be in each other’s life. It was a mix of liquor and true feelings pouring out over box of old fireworks.
That dusty box was no longer just a contained showcase of burning lights. It was a beacon of hope. It was a flare signaling for help from God, the Universe, and whomever else listening. It was a request to just feel happy. From what I can recall, my ex was in agreement, and just as hopeful. I can’t say we were on the same page of hopes and dreams, but I know that happiness and understanding was at the core of both our desires.
Flame to fuse, the box was lit, and then, there were fireworks.
Within that dusty purple box contained vibrant reds, greens, and blues. Sparks zipped and scurried across the pavement. There were pops and whistles, and a barking dog. Burning lights shot up in the air, with smoke trailing behind. My eyes were in awe, as I watched light dance and scream for the joy and happiness of myself and my ex.
That dusty box was me. The flame was my ex. The fireworks were us. In that moment, those fireworks showed us who we used to be, and how we made each other feel when combined. Unfortunately, we were merely spectators seeing the cycle of our love form, excite, then finally end. By the end of July, my ex and I no longer saw each other.
But those fireworks sure were pretty.