Is it really July 8th already? Jeez. With all the busy doings and the thwarted intentions lately I didn't even get around to mentioning the Fourth of July festivities.
The gathering was at Iris's this year, up at the top of the street. It was not the usual neighborhood guest list, however. This year Lizzie and Mike and their kids went across town to her mother's to watch the municipal fireworks (she lives close to where they launch from and the blasts are good and loud there), and Ross and Mary and their kids stayed home, victims of landscaping fatigue, even though they live just around the corner.
This year's party had some unusual suspects in attendance. Joe and Erin from up the street were there with their daughter Hildy. Hildy's just about the only kid around here who's younger than Amy. Iris's boyfriend, Adam, was there with his parents, so all age groups except for the over-seventy crowd and teenagers were represented. This indicates that those two age groups share something in common -- they are both willing to speak their minds enough to chance insult, thus ensuring a kind of freedom from social obligations and invitations thereto.
The whole experience was yet another example of what happens when nice and good suburbanites try to party. We subvert desire for the sake of the kids. We're trying to give them a memorable childhood, full of golden memories of wholesome fun, but I suspect what they'll remember most is how boring adults seemed to be. We, the responsible grown-ups, are adept at building a healthy context in the form of safe surroundings, but as a group, we really stink at the content part.
This was certainly true when I was a kid. While the adults barbecued steaks in the selected backyard, I wanted to go DO something instead of being a guest kid, a well-mannered pet, example of the upbringing. I knew even then that the content at these things was just adult game shit, husbands and wives sniffing around looking for reassurance that they'd grown up and done it right.
The good parties, the ones that stick, are from my late teens and early twenties. I mean, who's that not true for? It was OUR time to party. WE got to drink the booze. It flowed freely, along with pot or coke or crank or acid or 'shrooms or all of the above, and it was thus because we were young and stupid and full of inhibitions and empty of real confidence. Of course, if this much chemistry were still present in the parties of today, it would probably be for the same reasons. Our adult inhibitions are products of other forms of restraint, self imposed rules that we know are for our own good. We are confident now, confident that if we slept around it would lead to financial ruin, shame and envy among peers, and perhaps death by virus.
So we are boring instead, and we find solace in the construction of context. What feels best is not a mind-bending drug, but an assurance of calm and safety, mostly because we love our kids and our friends so much. These loves are different than the ones we suffered in our youth, and they offer all the mind-bending we need, thank you very much. The duration of these loves is unlike any other, certainly beyond the infatuations of the days of wild parties, and cured with lots of time spent simply paying attention.
It's not necessary to be so boring, however. The parties of yesteryear, even without the drugs and booze, had something else going for them, and that was characters. I bet this is true in your life. You used to hang out with some pretty freaky characters, am I right? Needy types, hilarious types, folks who'd take giant risks, people who lived their lives with the volume turned way up. Lives of the party who were engaging because they were so out there and gosh wouldn't it be great to be like that and have all that attention. And where are they now? I rest my case. Oh sure, there's that one person who parlayed a personality into a hefty financial portfolio, but hey, c'mon, did YOU take that risk? No, the vast majority of those folks washed ashore a long time ago.
So we sat up there at the top of the cul-de-sac and watched the city light our fireworks for us.
"Shelter From The Storm" -- Bob Dylan -- BLOOD ON THE TRACKS
Wisdom of the Day:
"What'll we do with ourselves this afternoon?" cried Daisy, "and the day after that, and the next thirty years?"
- F. Scott Fitzgerald