I spent the holiday weekend at my parents' house in New Jersey. It was fine. It was all very baby-centric, because my sister and her four-month-old was there. Which is fine, because I Believe That Children Are Our Future. I did remark at one point that I could lose an arm and no one would notice, which caused the people around me to joke, 'Yes we'd notice because then you couldn't hold the baby as well.' Ha ha. Ha.
We all went to a family friend's house for supper and fireworks on the Fourth, and because I had no choice, I had to bring my dog. The house is very close to the park where the fireworks are set off, and you can get a great view from the yard. I knew this would not go well. When the shells first started my dog just seemed startled, but then with each explosion she kept trying to back up, to get away from the noise and the flashing. Then she started panting and trembling, and I didn't want this to develop into a full-blown anxiety response (because I've heard other dogs who were upset by fireworks went on to become nervous wrecks during thunderstorms) so I took off. The group was busy seeing how my baby niece was reacting to the show, so I just told them I had to go, and we walked as fast as we could down the street in the other direction from the fireworks. Walking seemed to calm her, or at least give her a purpose, so I kept going. The friends' house is in a charming little town with historic buildings onstreets lined up nicely in a grid. It was cool to see them illuminated by the fireworks, the sidewalks mostly deserted except for the occasional person sitting in their yard watching the show. I turned onto the shadiest streets, trying to get some sizeable buildings between us and the noise. I kept walking and walking, onward and upward and away. By the time the big finale began, the dog was relaxed enough to stop and sniff at interesting things. So I turned us around and started walking back. About halfway there I bashed into the river of people walking home from the park. I had to swim upstream. When I got within a block my dad was waiting on the sidewalk as though he had been about to come search for me. "There you are," he said. My sister was worried I had been kidnapped, but my dad seemed more concerned that we were now unable to get a jump on the traffic. The drive home was slow and grim, the baby crying because we weren't moving (she had been calm throughout the fireworks show).