“Every once in a blue moon, and by that I mean ten years, we actually get to see the fireworks on the Fourth of July,” Shanell said as we ascended the BART escalator at 19th Street in Oakland. “I have a good feeling that this is the year.”
The weather was fairly warm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so it felt auspicious. Anyone who’s spent Independence Day in the Bay Area knows that it’s almost a given that you won’t get to see much in the way of bombs bursting in air. There’s usually a porridge thick layer of fog hovering above the bay, turning the dazzling explosions into faint pops of muted color. About 15 years ago a group of us thought we were slick and decided to spend the holiday on Treasure Island, reasoning that we’d be able to see all the fireworks in the whole Bay Area. We literally saw nothing.
But maybe Shanell was right. It was beautiful out, almost feeling like a real summer. This could be the year.
Shanell, Kayla, and I popped by Ben and Monika’s place in Uptown Oakland for their get together. People lingered around the chips and dip, drinking cider, champagne and gin while talking disgustedly about the Trump Regime’s concentration camps. I looked at Ben and Monika’s sweet little one-and-a-half year old boy Jameson, and couldn’t imagine the cruelty it would take to put people his age into such horrific conditions. There was a consensus amongst us all: we didn’t have much to feel patriotic about. Somebody changed the mood, saying “At least, we might get to see some actual fireworks this year.”
We said our goodbyes and headed up to the Oakland Hills. Nick had left The City over a year ago and moved in with some friends who lived on a lush 2-acre lot. For months he’d been trying to get Kayla and I to visit, rhapsodizing about how lovely it was. Being typical San Franciscans we’d said, “Oh yeah, for sure. We’ll get out there soon” knowing full well it wasn’t likely. But this was the day! Everyone in the world seemed to be in Tahoe and we wanted to do something outside of SF too, so we finally made it to Nick’s place and brought Shanell too.
Nick had not been selling wolf tickets, the place he lived was beautiful. Walking across a little bridge over a stream, and entering the property, we saw redwoods and oak trees and huge backyard with dogs frolicking. We passed a crowd smoking and drinking and went inside to find Nick. “Holy shit,” I said, “You didn’t tell me you lived in Terabithia!” He laughed and, “See! I’ve been telling you to get out here forever!”
We spent a couple hours eating barbeque and chatting while I imagined what life would be like with all that space. Oakland somehow impresses me more every time I visit.
The people at the party were split half and half on the question of if we’d be able to see fireworks that night. But we knew if we stayed in the seclusion of Nick’s place we wouldn’t be able to see anything, so when John and Anika offered us a ride back to The City, we hopped in.
Earlier in the evening Shanell had left to go to another event. As John and Anika drove off towards the Haight, Kayla and I decided the best place to see the fireworks would be North Beach, where our friends had a rooftop to watch from.
It had been a long adventure of friends and exploration, and we were excited to finally see the thing we’d been talking about all day. Climbing the stairs, a glass of wine in hand, we made it to the rooftop just in time for the start of the fireworks.
And of course, the fog had rolled in. We couldn’t see shit. Karl had won again.
As we went home that night Kayla said to me, “San Francisco should just give up on the fireworks already. The City should put on a laser light show each year instead and just have loud speakers playing booming sounds. Think about how much money they’d save.”
I think she might be on to something.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him atBrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list to stay up on the work he’s doing: http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. His guest column, Broke-Ass City, runs Thursdays in the Examiner.