Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ka-Boom Pride

You don't get more American than the Fourth of July and the celebrations that it brings.

The last two years, I've usually spent the Fourth at a house in Cedar Hill house-sitting for a friend. She moved away in early June back to Canada, so now I'm home for the first time for the Fourth in two years.

Mr. Rodriguez invited me to watch the fireworks celebration at a local racetrack, whose display may be the only reason they survive the summer. Bringing along some city-issued tickets, and the whole thing would be free (if you didn't drink or buy anything).

The first-half of the day was spent cooking out. Hamburgers, fajitas, tablitas, etc. The heat was still oppressive by 5PM, although being close proximity to the grill could have added to it. We didn't finish grilling until about 7.30p, all sixteen hamburgers and the other meat bought that day.

Delicious AF cheeseburgers
I was sitting in front of the TV around 8p enjoying my second burger when I was told that Mr. Rodriguez was here. I was surprised since he had called it off earlier in the day, so I quickly put my shoes on, gathered my tripod/camera, and hurried out the door with two drinks to his parent's truck.

We hurried up to Lone Star Park and got dropped off a good distance from the main gate. As we walked through the parking lot. Mr. Rodriguez and I chatted through the heat and he mentioned we'd be meeting a friend of his, an equally-successful friend who had gone to Yale and ended up at Harvard.

When we made our way to the gate, we stood around looking around for his friend "K", and soon enough, we found him with two beers in hand looking around for his friends. Wandering through the crowds, we found them too and made our way to the front line.

I setup my tripod while they stood next to me talking and "K"s friends sat down in front of us eating and drinking.

Honestly, the whole night up to the actual fireworks display was an exercise in awkwardness. For the first hour, I stood there semi-listening to Rodriguez and "K" talking, being acknowledged a few times. They stood on my left, with Rodriguez his back to me, and with an ear infection still lingering, no way I could really participate or even eavesdrop.

At some point, before 9p, Rod and "K" left me to rot in the grand stands behind his friends. I stood there for 50 minutes pretending to be interested by looking ahead of me, watching the last two horse races, and taking photos. Around 9.40p, "K"s people got up and left.

The view from where I stood before the Fireworks display, a digichrome of all the people moving.
A digichrome of the crowd in front of me.

I don't remember if I had ever been so rudely treated by a friend. I had come to a decision that if he didn't come back by the fireworks celebration that I would just leave. It'd be a long trek home (~3.5 miles), but a walk home would be much better than hanging around with someone who would abandon a friend.

Genuinely angry at how I was treated, I was determined to stay for the show because that's what I had come for. I thought I would come to have a good time with a friend, but that ship had fucking sailed.

Five minutes to 10p, the pair finally showed up.

Once again, I stood around looking interested until the fireworks show began. The huge LED screen in front of the stands showed a countdown and I could honestly not wait until it reached zero.

Around 10.20p, the show began and we all stood there in awe as the country music praising the soldiers, the "American way-of-life", and other things to make us feel patriotic as the night sky was adorned with these spectacular fireballs.

I took about 40 long-exposure images, and even one of Rodriguez and "K" that came out less-than-stellar because I didn't set the flash program to the correct setting.

A long-exposure of a firework.

 At the end of the night, I was satisfied at the number of images I had shot, but angry at the way I had been treated. "Never again" I told myself. And next year, I'll be going with people who actually want to go or not at all. Heatstroke isn't worth some fireworks.

After the show, we spent the following hour and a half walking from the track to a service station so that we could be more visible to an Uber driver, which turned out to be "K"s parents graciously giving us a ride back to my place.

As we drove down my street, Rodriguez called my neighborhood "sketch" and I replied, "If you're going to bash my neighborhood, you can at least wait until I'm out of the car."

When I got home sweaty and dehydrated, I was so done with the whole night. To my chagrin, I had to drive Rodriguez home, but in the end I calmed down, smoking a Marlboro while watching the LED lights pass by. That scenery put along with Billy Idol really calmed me down.

Sometimes I wonder why I put up with this type of behavior. I never learn from the past it seems.