Working for myself means I work all hours and each day unless I tell myself I’m not going to. It’s surprisingly easy to work every day. I get to remember and take time off, for my sake – for my family’s sake.

This morning’s roster involved a cancellation, a challenging client, and a do-over. By about four PM I was ready for a rest. I tied my hair back up and slipped into first some loungewear and then into bed with a good murder mystery. Ralph made a fresh pot of coffee and I recovered after a fashion.

About six Nels comes back inside, breathless, smelling of black powder and ozone. “What have you been up to?” I ask. I’m thinking of all those years the children needed so much supervision – gone, poof! – and they are young adults now. As evidenced by the next thing my son says: “I’ve been lighting fireworks – and cleaning up after people,” he tells me as he holds aloft a garbage bag full of the miscellany of this most litter-prone holiday.    

While I rest, Ralph packs up a picnic dinner. We pull out a quilt and grab coats, and drive down to the river. I suppose I love small-town life as we can park only a few feet away from the shore, and walk to find a comfortable spot on the green grass. I can smell sugar in the air from cotton candy, heavy marijuana smoke. Talk is pleasant, no fighting, no loud drunken brawling. My body feels chill and even in a coat I sidle up to the warm chest of my husband, holding myself close to his familiar form. His strong arms and the way he smells, clean like fresh-cut grass and so comforting. I can’t hold anyone in my family for long without my 13 year old slipping in between us. The whole evening the children are holding me close or holding my hand. They are a great comfort to me even as old as they are, they seek out touch as much as they did when they were small.

The big fireworks display, when it launches, regales us with a half hour of successive incredible pyrotechnics. My favorites are the waterfall-like gentle rains, and the little after-crackles of some of the larger multistage blooms. As a family we are held together in complete comfort and intimacy, safe on our little quilt, a soft cotton island in a sea of green grass.

The drive home is a cautious one, but passes without incident. The celebrations have kicked up in our neighborhood; my cats and dog, however, are calm. The house begins to settle; I can only hear the washing machine and the pop-pop-pop and the pleasant music from my son’s Minecraft game. Time for a hot shower and time to rest, and tomorrow to take up work again, to what end I’m never entirely sure.