Sparklers

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Burn.

The year is half gone and I’m not sure where it went. For as slowly as time seemed to pass, it’s now quickly gone.

Flying By Night novelThe Fourth  of  July  has  come  and  gone,  too,  and  I missed out on the fireworks this year. I lost my prime fireworks-watching seats in the divorce. I didn’t really mind. Small price to pay. I celebrated my independence doing exactly what I wanted and avoided the crowds in the process.

The evening might have been more entrancing if I’d been watching fountains of fireworks over a boat-filled bay with someone special,  but I’ll save that for another year. This year was meant for something  different, something quieter but not quite so passionate either. Something to serve as a reminder of the half-way mark in this new year. I’ll save the passionate fire- works for next New Year’s Eve.

As usual, I didn’t get everything finished this weekend. I never do. I always have some incredibly long list of honey-do’s that Honey-Me does,  but it never gets finished. No difference there in being married. I always  did  my own honey-do’s then, too.

At least I got the wall-painting chore completed. The new exercise machine I bought two weeks ago still lies in pieces in three separate rooms, waiting for me to find the time to finish up so I can keep my legs gleefully tight without having to spurn the sweaty boys in the gym. But  my other chores and some book editing all got finished, though it’s not enough. It’s never enough. There’s always more to do, and what I really wanted to do this weekend was slip away somewhere out of town and quiet, maybe to a houseboat on a lake in the mountains. Some place cool and sweet.

Like in this dream I had.

I was talking to a man, to a soulmate whose face I could not see, but I was looking at his hands and how he talked with them and how they were shaped and how he didn’t realize I was looking at his hands.

“There’s something I have to show you,” I blurted out in my dream. “It’s a place that’s very special to me. Come, let me take you there.”

“Okay,” I heard his voice agree, “but let me take you

somewhere first. Some place very special to me.”

And in my dream, I followed him, never seeing his face but hearing his voice and smiling at my hand in his. He took me through hills and mountains to a forested cove or lake. I knew the place. I knew it well.

“This is it,” he said. “My special place. This is where I come all the time in my dreams. No one’s ever here but me. No one else, to my knowledge, has ever seen this place but me…and now you. I wanted to share it with you.”

And in my dream, I could barely answer because I was so happy. “This is the place I wanted to show you,” I told him. “This is my special  place, too, the one I wanted to share with you. I come here all the time, and I’ve never seen anyone else here. Until now. With you.”

And then I kissed his hands.

But I didn’t spend my Independence Day evening with that kind of soulmate. I spent it at home with friends from out- of-town since I  couldn’t spend it with my daughters this year. My friends called  unexpectedly and asked if they could come visit. It’s nice to have people in the house again. It’s even nicer to have people who want to come here.

The lights were down low, the ceiling fans spreading cool air  throughout the house. The really nice chardonnay I served reminded me of my wine snob days, and I was glad we were all cheap drunks and had enough fine wine to go around. The  wild-rice-chicken-and-mushrooms  dish  turned  out  better than expected, and the  blueberry-strawberry-watermelon salad was sweet and fresh. Then two  hours later, we all ended up down on the floor on pillows, just talking about Life-Death-and- the-Universe—my favorite subject. By the time we  heard fire- works popping in the distance, we were too engaged in conversation to care about the sweating crowds at the beach directly under the loud bursts of color.

The evening was peaceful and free, and a wonderful re- minder of how far life has come in this new year. I have people in my home regularly now, and it’s a safe harbor for all of us. It’s hard to believe how much  life  has changed since I spent New Year’s Eve alone and in contemplation a mere six months ago. It’s even harder to believe how much life has changed in the past year.

This time last year, I was steeling myself against poverty. In spite of my salary, I had expected to become destitute within a few months. After years of being told I made too much money to quit my day job and follow my non-profit dreams and years of being told I was a financial burden to my family, I had no idea how far my income would go.

“You make more money than you think you do,” I re- member Vicki telling me after I confided that I’d never be able to afford to get my  hair cut once every two months and that dinners out would be a thing of  the past. “You make enough money   to   support   yourself,   your   children,   and—if   you wanted—a house husband to meet you at the door with a martini and a foot rub,” she told me.

That idea actually sort of intrigued me. That I could afford to keep my home, my daughters, and a houseboy. It’s taken a year to get a grip on my finances and see that she was right, even with one last payment of 35k due my ex this November. I haven’t acquired the houseboy yet, though I still find the possibility interesting. I don’t really want to continue in my current line of work and I’d prefer to stay home and raise my kids while pursuing my non-profit writing and publishing dreams, but as an independent woman, I need the job and hence I stay. Still, the thought of a houseboy makes me smile.

But on this Fourth of July, this Independence Day when I truly am independent, there are no huge and loud flourishes of fireworks for me to watch.

But so far this year, there have been plenty of sparklers.