**Disclaimer: This post is not gaming related.**
Five years ago – New Years Eve, Boston: My wife told me that we would be having a child. It wasn’t exactly planned, so I was shocked by the news. I was taking a break from music school, working full time while we adjusted to married life. The moment I heard, I knew that our course would be derailed from what we had originally planned. The original plan was for her to find work so I could go back to focus on the music.
There were fireworks that night. I passed through the Boston Commons as I walked to work, a throng of people standing in my way as they stared up at the light show happening above us. As I made my way through to get to the other side of the park, I stopped for a moment and looked up. I didn’t want to be late for my shift, but my mind was full of thoughts. I watched for a minute and reflected. Maybe it was a sign. Maybe in a way, they were celebrating for us. It was a moment that comforted my worries and helped me make an inner resolution. Whatever happened in the future, this was the beginning of a new journey – and a new life.
Four years ago – July 4th, Boston: My wife was 7 months pregnant. It was our second year living together after being apart for several years. Work was stressful, but we were happy together. We knew we were having a boy, and we could feel him kicking often. We spent a good part of the day outside that day. The Boston Pops Orchestra would be performing along with the fireworks that night, as is their tradition. We went early to the Bandshell by the Charles River so we could reserve a spot on the grass. We prepared lunch and lounged for a while, lazily taking pictures of each other and her bulging belly in the sun. By evening, it was near impossible to get a cellphone reception – it was that packed. The three of us listened to the orchestra play as the fireworks burst into the air. We waved the little plastic American flags we were given earlier, joining the thousands of others celebrating there with us. It was one of the happiest days of my life.
Last year – July 4th, Chicago: We were almost late to the fireworks. Our boy was already turning three in a couple of months, and we wanted him to see the fireworks up close. We had arranged to park in an acquaintance’s garage, but the city workers were blocking the entrance and didn’t believe us. They finally relented, letting us in after the fireworks had started. “It’s almost over anyway,” the supervisor said. We were finally able to park and rushed to join the others on the blocked-off main road. I watched our son’s eyes as he looked up at the streaming, sparkling balls of light, wondering what he was thinking and what he was experiencing.
Today: I called her on her cellphone so I could speak with our son. He could communicate decently now; he seemed happy and excited. I missed him. They were in Indiana on a mini vacation, and were about to leave their hotel room to go watch some fireworks. Good for him – I hope he has the time of his life.
I recently took my son to his first movie theater to watch Inside Out. I watched him watch the movie on the “giant TV screen”. We laughed together at the funny parts. He stared at the screen silently at the sad parts. He probably didn’t understand much of it. I wondered how much of this will stay with him subconsciously as he grows older. I wondered what he will think years later when he rewatches this movie; what he will think of us when he realizes Riley had both mom and dad there to comfort her in times of struggle. So much for Family Island.
I took down the family photos from the walls today. I am glad that millions of people are celebrating this day with their loved ones, making happy memories that will last a lifetime. For me, though, today is a reminder that holidays will be a bittersweet experience for a long time to come – especially those involving fireworks.