Sunday, July 04, 2004

land of the free

Somewhere a family is sitting on a picnic blanket staring expectantly at the sky. The younger children are fidgeting with excitement over a treat made all the more delicious because it happens but once a year (and a year is an eternity to them). Mom is a bit worn out from keeping the kids under control, and dad is just happy to have two days off in a row (for once) and to have some time with the kids and the wife (despite a few furtive glances at scantily dressed young women walking by.)

Somewhere a teenage couple is sitting on the hood of a car staring at the same sky, but the blooming bursts of light are nothing compared to the electricity they feel when their hands touch.

Somewhere in a backyard, a group of old high school friends, separated by hundreds of miles from September through May, are enjoying some beer, burgers, and hot dogs; they're talking about grades, internships, and how the prom queen had a nervous breakdown (and was hospitalized with an eating disorder) while the plain Jane from AP History has a 4.0 at an Ivy League school and is now hot as hell.

Somewhere in the same neighborhood an extended family has taken over the living room, kitchen, deck, backyard, and parts of the street. Some aren't having a good time, but most are, some to their own surprise. The adults catch up on what they've been up to in the past 6 months and chat about the stock market, gas prices, and Saddam Hussein. The girls are out back chasing each other around with sparklers, while some of the more mischievous boys are out in the street launching bottle rockets horizontally. The less adventurous ones simply watch with awed grins.

Somewhere at a public park a group of veterans in black leather are waving red, white, and blue flags with genuine pride.

Somewhere at a coffee shop a group of highly educated but underemployed young people are bemoaning American imperialism and corporate greed.

Somewhere, a man in his mid-twenties hides in the same bedroom he's hidden in for the past 16 years, wondering why he feels so alone in it, and even more alone outside of it.


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