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The first time I never saw fireworks

Alexandra Tyminski
MSM Class of 2015

(7/2013) "Hurry! Hurry! The train is leaving in 2 minutes, ay! We need to get a seat!" Andrew said.

"Calm down mate, we will be fine. It canít be that crowded anyways," Brett replied.

"Itís alright guys, I have done this many times. And so have my friends. We will just have to move quickly past all of these people to make sure we get on the train! We just want to make sure we stay together!" I reassured them.

Oh no, I quietly thought to myself. Our hopes of getting down to the Washington Monument on the 4th of July were not looking too promising. With all of these people, there was no way we would get there in time. The escalator was moving very slowly for some odd reason. One would think that for being in a rush, people would just walk down them. I caught my breath for a moment and began to think about other options. All I could think about was the fact that I was gallivanting in a metro station with a few local friends, two Australians, and one Irishman. Pushing and shoving rushed strangers in a rat race to the metro just to spend 45 minutes on a crowded train to see some fireworks? It wasnít all that fun getting there, but every year I still come back to take on the crowds, clearly forgetting what it was like the previous years.

"QuickÖgo!" Peter shouted.

"Jenny, quick! You, Erica, and Simon run to the doors! Score us some seats if you can!" I said to her as we trailed behind a few other strangers.

"Andrew, Brett, andÖoh noÖwhereís Peter?" I asked anxiously.

"I donít know, ay! He was just here a bit ago!" Brett said. I couldnít see anything except the doors ahead shutting quickly as Jenny, Erica, and Simon masterfully squeezed through them.

Perfect, I thought. All of my local friends are now headed on the metro to Washington, D.C. with thousands of people there trying to watch the same fireworks as us. And Iím currently stuck with two Aussies and an Irishman who have never experienced America on the 4th of July.

"Um, hey, Emma? Thatís Peter over there! With his American, blue and red striped hat!" Andrew called out to me.

"Peter, Peter! Over here!"

"Ohhhh, hey guys! I couldnít find you!" Peter said as he shuffled himself over to us.

"Okay, well I sort of have some unfortunate newsÖ"

Andrew glanced at me with some nervous, wide-eyed look.

I began to start off lightly and then it all just rolled out.

"We sort of, well, um, we got separated from my other friends and now we have to wait for another train. And Iím not sure if we are going to get down to the fireworks in time, and Iím just not sure. I donít know, but I have hope that maybe we can make it."

"Whattttt?!" Andrew exclaimed.

"Well, thatís alright Emma. We can just wait for the next train," Brett said. I mouthed to him, "Thank you," and we all found a bench towards the end of the metro platform.


"Peter, wake up! Itís here!" I said shaking his arm.

"Yes! Finally!" Andrew said with excitement.

We filed onto the train, and we all sat down. Thankfully, I got a window seat, and Andrew took a seat next to me.

"Andrew, donít worry mate or friend or however you say friend. The fireworks donít start for another hour. We will make it! This ride will take about 45 minutes or so. Hopefully there are no metro delays!" I tried to sound hopeful and enthusiastic, but I wasnít sure if Andrew was buying it.

He looked at me and grumbled, "Weíll see about that, mate."

Meanwhile, after everyone was seated, I began to scan the crowd around me. Peter, sitting across from me, was wearing his blue and red striped American flag hat. His big fluffy red hair crept out from underneath the brim. He also sported a royal blue shirt and bright red shorts, although his socks were not white. They were green and orange. I wasnít sure if it was just a rumor that every Irishman loved the colors green and orange, but Peter seemed to prove that point. He was very adventurous and always wanted to try new things. That is probably why he falls asleep wherever you go, because he is always at it and moving around.

I turned my head to the left and noticed Andrew. He was nervously tapping his right foot and his palms were a bit sweaty. I was almost positive it was not because he was nervous about sitting next me, but rather because he wanted to make sure we got to the fireworks in time. He was wearing a sleeveless red pocket shirt and some white shorts with a deep blue denim shirt on top. He was reserved, but he had a lot of style. He was a nice Australian for sure, but I noticed that he always wanted to be organized.

Diagonally from me sat Brett. Brett was the ultimate laidback person. He was always making sure that Andrew was feeling confident about the new adventure and helping scout out Peter when he dove right into it. Brett was easygoing, and he wore a navy blue shirt and khaki shorts to prove it. He was definitely a more "go with the flow" Australian.

After examining the three foreign exchange students who my mom so graciously hosted this summer, I quickly picked up on the fact that we were not moving. We had not even left the original platform that we just waited on for twenty minutes.

"Well, looks like we arenít moving, folks," a tall gray-haired man with a beard said standing in front of us.

Oh, please donít say that. I was hoping that Andrew either had not noticed we didnít move yet or that he assumed we would start going soon.

"Hey, Emma?" Andrew asked.

"Yeah, Andrew whatís up?"

"What is the big hype about seeing these fireworks anyways?" he turned to me and said.

I couldnít help but giggle a bit because I wasnít expecting Andrew to be so calm after our tall mysterious new friend just so loudly stated the obvious stationary problem. Brett gave me a shocked look, and I just shrugged my shoulders as I proceeded to answer the question. But then, I stopped and thought about it for a second.

"Emma?" Andrew said again when he realized I was thinking too hard.

"Well, see, I was just thinking about it. And honestly, I donít know," I said.

Brett smirked and said, "So youíre telling me that you donít know why your country celebrates your Independence Day?"

"No, no, no, Iím not saying that! Iím saying that I guess fireworks are just a part of it. Itís a part of the big celebration," I replied.

Peter began to stretch and wake up. He quickly jumped into the conversation without hesitation.

"Whatís going on? American Independence Day?" He asked.

"Yes, thatís what we are talking about. I mean normally, most people just have a barbeque or watch fireworks or celebrate the day our nation became independent. If you must understand it better, in short, we were once a long time ago a part of the British colonies and then we fought for our independence. We conquered; we celebrated because we had become independent," I stated.

"Do all Americans practice that speech when asked about the 4th of July?" Andrew said, laughing and giving me a hard time.

"Ha! No we donít, but itís something pretty special when you think about the history involved in our Independence Day."

"I mean think about it guys, we are all independent people within an independent nation that fought for that independence and has kept it ever since," I said.

"Yeah, it is special, especially because we get to see it firsthand in the States for ourselves!" Peter said enthusiastically.

"Yeah, but Iím sad to say that we may not be able to see the fireworks at this rate. Iím not sure why the rail lines are all messed up. They arenít usually like this. Itís always a rush to get there, then it is really fun for about twenty minutes, and then it is a rush to get back. In some ways, I feel like some people forget why we even go to watch the fireworks," I paused and looked at them in silence. Peter, Andrew, and Brett looked back at me waiting for me to finish my thought.

"I guess when you are always rushed on some holidays or excited to have a good time or see fireworks, the main reason for the celebration can easily be lost."

"It happens everywhere, but I guess it sometimes takes asking questions to figure out the importance of a lot of different things," Brett said.

"Or just a curious foreigner!" Peter commented with a smirk on his face.

"Truthfully, I say that we get off this train and head back home Emma. We went to D.C. last weekend, and if the fireworks are awesome this weekend, then they are awesome. Iíll take your word for it. But, maybe we can find some other ones or just hang out," Andrew suggested.

"You know, I think this whole 4th of July Independence Day talk is gettiní to ya, mate! Youíre sounding a bit more chilled out like myself. Are you sure the American Independence Day isnít helping you celebrate their independence, but also developing your own?" Brett said, hurling out a loud laughter.

We all laughed, and I realized that even as a joke, that question may have been valid for Andrew. It may have been valid for me as I traveled back to my 4th grade history class and retaught myself the whole point of our Independence Day.

"Yeah, letís get off of here. Besides, they have firecrackers at the shops anyways. We can buy them and hang out while you all pretend to be American on this 4th of July. Then you can sit under the stars and tip off your Australian and Irish hats to the men that fought for my countryís independence," I said.

"Maybe youíll do the same once again, but maybe in a more memorable way and a more relaxed one," Andrew said nudging my elbow.

I laughed and looked out the metro car window. As we waited for the doors to open, I thought to myself, yeah I finally will. As much as I love 4th of July fireworks, this time I will be able to reflect and peacefully thank those who fought for the chance for us to not only be an independent nation, but also for each of us to have the ability to be an independent person.

Read other articles by Alexandra Tyminski