Surveyed from a distance, life is a series of fireworks, beginning with the pop or wow that brings each of us into the world. Tiny explosions persist during childhood – from colic to scarred knees, sneezes to bruises – but the real wallop comes with puberty as a gazillion hormones set off an unholy riot in homes and heaven. Whoosh! and there’s a splatter of blemishes, a rainbow of odors, a sky full of racing hearts, and we’re airborne or living on the street. ‘Makeup!’ we yell as the rash spreads to our loins but before the groans have settled into a known pattern we’re stricken with love and then everything blows up and we rocket about like bowling pins in the wake of a volcanic eruption
In pursuit of the stars, for each one fizzles out – always too soon – we descend to earth in a balloon, if we’re lucky. More often we’re brought down by a bolt of lightning bearing news of a pregnancy then oooh! Tails on fire, we tear about in a flutter of ignorance as life hurls us into the stratosphere where sleep is as rare as cruise control. Now comes a series of yelps, and cries of, not again! and time becomes a blur of fading noises then we turn forty and wonder when and how it happened.
If we discover a measure of control or balance – which we all think we need but can seldom grasp – it’s more likely to come when it’s too late to be useful. Occasionally we spot the fireworks, watch them burst and sizzle in other people’s lives. But they never end, they never stop going off when we least expect, under lily pads, beside the boiler, above the sink. They carry the universe along, and us with them: tiny whirling bodies left over from the original Big Bang glowing red, green, red, green, leaving us wondering if we’re coming or going.