On the third of July I wear a sweater most of the day, shorts, argyle socks I thought were on their last leg, write about the rain, try to nap, serve breakfast after 12, sit on a rock by the lake on the phone talking to my mom, read Updike on the couch, Self-Consciousness, micro-manage the kids about their rooms, checking in, following up, grooming the project backlog, the litter box: the cat’s pissed off about her food, preens on the stairs, keeps licking the small of her back, but it’s a stain that won’t come out.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s the Fourth of July and I just put the heat on. It got down to 65 in the house and Dawn’s family was in from California, all of them in their parkas looking startled. The miller moths, the cicadas that run in 13- and 17-year cycles in the South, that grow red eyes as they mature like Darth Maul and crunch underfoot as you cross the lawn, that have grippers on their legs they use to anchor themselves to your arms when they land — the miller moths, or army cutworm, that leave a dusty, oily residue when you kill them, their scales, how they gather and accumulate in dark spaces and drop in clumps from the undersides of cars as they jounce across the bridge, Colorado. The midges of the Scottish Highlands, the horse flies on the California coast, in Oregon, how their legacies swell as we go around the table trading tales.
On the third I wore a sweater most of the day with shorts, argyle socks, trying to look different or like I didn’t care what I looked like, which is its own look. Lily’s jean shorts are wearing through in the back and have a Daisy Duke quality that’s unsettling. Dawn’s cousin Russ calls me Cletus, a reference to my shirt, that I confuse with the baboon named Clyde in Every Which Way But Lose. The Fourth of July shirt I wear once a year for the past ten and haven’t washed once probably, don’t need to.
On Mondays we feed the orchids three ice cubes each to control their intake, and though it’s a Monday it doesn’t feel like it on the Fourth, it feels just like the Fourth, that could be any day of the week, a copy and paste of every Fourth that’s come before which we’ll try to remember but won’t.
The Fourth of July vibe as dusk comes on and the sound of far-away fantasy bombs. The glory of the struggle, the conflict, the underdog. The joy of lighting shit on fire and blowing things up. The threat of thousand dollar fines never realized. All that is summer, in bomb pops and barbecues. It’s so good even the Germans idealize it, the American grill, the romance of butchers and men in bibs looking stern, flipping animal parts over a live fire.
On the fifth of July in my robe on the sofa looking out the window I realize I haven’t been doing anything but staring, haven’t even had my coffee, and it’s raining again, maybe 60, and I should put the lawn chairs away and hang up my shirt.