It is the forth of July. My wife and I have gone to the local Brevard Community College campus for Freedom Fest and Fireworks. I expected booths with local organizations, political parties, speeches, a parade.
A stage and music was advertised. Jimmy Buffet music, specifically. Appropriate, largely, considering our location and the large Parrothead community here.
We parked in the Home Depot parking lot and followed the masses past the Grocery store and plaza, into the street and waited for the police and crossing guards to stop the cars and wave the throng forward. As a populus, we carried coolers, chairs, babies, packpacks, blankets and totes full of fireworks. Strollers were pushed with their on-board babes by Mamas and Papas and siblings and all together we moved toward the fairground.
The sidewalk disappeared. Once on the college campus, the sidewalk went away. Thee was grumbling, dismayed disbelief and surprise. Strollers and no sidewalks in an area where people are expected to walk from class to class. We walked in the grass skipping over red-ant hills. We walk in the street, pressed to the curb by line of cars searching endlessly for a place to be.
The fairground had a bouncehouse, six food stands with lines into the forties. I know because I counted the people. A booth advertised “Freedom Crafts for Free” and, well… that was it, sav the stage.
On stage was a band playing tropic tinged music which sounded slightly Buffetesque but wrong in some minor way. The singer had a faint Florida accent and we listened to what we thought was “Cheeseburger in Paradise” but somehow was just not right. We stopped in front of the stage..
March to the left/March to the right/We’re marching forward for Jesus Christ
Marching for Jesus Christ/We’ll all go the Heaven won’t that be nice./Give your life to Jesus now don’t think twice/We’re marching forward to Jesus Christ.
I will not take this space quoting the founding fathers and their thoughts on religion. I will state Jesus lives in most of the county and city government here and, the more I hear it, the less I feel I belong. Even our county commissioner has taken a stand with one of them telling non-Christians, in official documents, she feels sorry for them and their unfortunate children.
The remainder of the evening, as the fireworks flare overhead and concussion waves thump our hearts and bolt our bodies to our chairs, we discuss where we could go. Where in the US? What part of the world? And, in this crowd, we feel alone.