It’s the Friday of the first week of class, which means LogJam!, free food, and fireworks. Five of my friends and I—despite having eaten the free food—have just eaten at our favorite Japanese restaurant on Sixth Avenue (Bento Teriyaki & Sushi). Dusk has begun to mask the sky, and anticipation is in the air; the fireworks are starting soon.
“Come on,” a friend says. “We don’t want to miss the fireworks.”
“It’s not supposed to start until nine,” I say. “We have plenty of time.”
A sizzling crack splits the sky. We can see the burst of light but cannot see its fiery shower.
Everyone stares at each other. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It isn’t nine yet.
Our feet slap the pavement as we run back incautiously in the middle of the road. We split into pairs. I find myself with M. The two fastest have already crossed the street and the others seem to have resigned themselves to be together—they linger behind.
“Come on,” M says.
We run across the street and onto the grassy slope behind Weyerhaeuser. The fireworks have increased in volume. Our view of the explosions is blocked by the tower of the building.
“Hurry up!” she says. “Take pictures for me, my phone’s dead.”
It’s a command, so I whip out my phone as we scramble up the dewy hill. The explosions are louder, nearer, brighter.
We round the corner of Weyerhaeuser building, and there it is—a fountain of red. Yellow takes its place, replaced thereafter by three bursts of orange. That is the picture I capture—the only one M approves of.
We stand at the crest of the hill, the canisters shooting up out of plumes of colored smoke. We watch as the fireworks light the night.
I see the lights explode out of darkness, then trickling, fade away. I think about how fleeting the displays are.
There are moments of great beauty in life. We like to remember them, so we take pictures of them, write stories about them.
As I looked at the picture I’d taken after the stillness of the night returned, I realized that I had captured one such moment. And I realized how important it was to record those fleeting instances. So that come what may, I might always look back and know a moment’s exploding beauty.