I was waiting at the tram stop after dinner tonight, one next to the river, all bundled up and by myself, when suddenly I heard those loud popping noises that can only be fireworks (or gunshots.) I looked over and could see the reflections of lights in the windows across the way, and once I moved about two inches out from behind the tram schedule, there it was. A boat, maybe 150 yards in front of me, was firing off fireworks. I literally stood there with my mouth open for several minutes, forgetting even to breathe. The man waiting for the tram next to me walked across the road to get closer, and the two of us stood there, utterly bemused, while a whole fireworks show commenced. It lasted maybe seven minutes, pinks and greens, explosions and those trailing ones that fall down and some of those rockets that just go straight up. From where I was standing Prague Castle was directly in my line of sight, so the whole thing looked like Disneyland, crazy multicolored fireworks in front of this elaborate, ornate, too beautiful to be real castle. And then it stopped, the man and I went back across the street, the tram came, my night continued.
I’ve got no idea why there were fireworks tonight. The Super Bowl? The first day of February? I Don’t Like Mondays? It was just such an astonishing, perfect moment that I felt I had to share it.
Maybe its a sign, or a metaphor, or something. I’ve always liked fireworks. I find that when watching fireworks is easier to unhook your brain from all the stuff its usually occupied by, to just watch and listen and enjoy to not look for reasons or anything but just be there, see it, be amazed. And I’ve been feeling sort of homesick and disgruntled the past few days – missing friends and American food and worried about how long I’m going to be here, the usual. The fireworks reminded me that the only way to approach – well, life, but especially a semester like this – is to be constantly astonished by your good fortune, amazed at what you see, present and thrilled by seeing this, by being here, by being alive.