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.

The moment I captured.

Hit the ground running

The second-to-last semester of college begins. My schedule: two parts advanced math, one part Spanish literature, and one part digital humanities. It’s recipe that causes me to put brainpower in every assignment that I do, and one that absolutely reaffirms my choice of major. Number theory work can throw me for a loop, but I’d rather be frustrated and confused by math homework than anything else.
Coming home from study abroad, people have been asking me whether I enjoyed it, and whether I’m glad to be back. Yes, and yes! Chile was a fantastic time, and I miss lots of things: speaking Spanish on the daily, my host family, the fun of transporting to another city to go to school, living close to the beach… whenever I run into one of the UPS students who were on my program and start reminiscing, I am reminded that we had it pretty good there.
However, I don’t get nostalgic too often. This year is shaping up to be a good mixture of coming home to the same things I was doing before I left and discovering some new things. One of these special bonuses to the semester was the Race and Pedagogy National Conference, hosted by the university once every four years and taking place in September. It was great and inspiring and motivating to see the dialogue that included students, community members, and speakers and attendees who traveled from all over the country to be there. I know that I will be digesting my personal takeaways over the course of the coming months, and I hope that these issues will remain on people’s minds and as part of a positive discourse on campus. Particularly when hearing from people who live in the Tacoma area, I kept thinking how I wanted to hear these voices on campus more. Of course, this is also a prompt for me to get more involved off-campus. It is hard to fit any new stuff into my schedule at this point, but you can always squeeze in one more thing, right? I don’t really want to get into that final year conundrum of wanting to “fit it all in” without spreading oneself too thin, so I’ll just say that for now a quick pause between class and work is enough for me to stop and smell the roses, and to be thankful for the here and now.