I love fireworks. Who doesn’t? They’re magical. On the other hand, Red, White & Boom, Columbus’ titanic Fourth of July fireworks show, is an absolute zoo. Hundreds of thousands of people cram into downtown to watch the blasts and hear the booms, and then the city is gridlocked forever by a colossal, once-a-year traffic jam.
I hate massive, milling crowds of sweaty, messily drunken people, and I despise unending, exhaust-laden traffic jams. So, as much as I like fireworks, I have let my disdain for getting caught in a crush of humanity keep me from ever watching a Red, White & Boom show.
Until this year — potentially. The accompanying photo is taken from one of the chairs at the table in our backyard. It shows the tops of two of the buildings in the southern part of downtown Columbus. On Friday night, when Red, White & Boom begins, I’ll be out in my backyard, drinking an ice-cold adult beverage and waiting to see whether the fireworks are visible from my backyard perch. If so, I’ll quaff my frosty tonic and enjoy the show. If the fireworks unfortunately don’t show above the rooftops, I guess I’ve just have to guzzle my brew nevertheless.
When I’m on the road for business, there is one unvarying element of my travel routine: the call home. I’m like ET that way. In fact, it’s usually two calls home — one when I get to my hotel room and drop my bags off, and then another when I’m back in the room for good and ready to turn in for the night.
Why two calls? The first one is easy to explain. When I’m traveling, I just want Kish to know where I am. So, I’ll call and remind her of the name of my hotel and give her my assigned room number. In the age of cell phones, this is probably pointless — who wants to hassle with a hotel switchboard when you can call somebody directly? — but it still makes me feel good that she knows where I am.
The second call has a deeper, less rational purpose. Business travel is weird. You’re alone in an unknown hotel room, with all of its alien sights and sounds. Hearing the familiar voice of a loved one just makes the strange room feel less strange.
Curiously, too, the more mundane the conversation, the greater the degree of emotional comfort that is imparted. I don’t need to be entertained by some abstract discussion about a recent Supreme Court decision or the latest episode of a hot TV show. Fill my ear with talk about the HVAC systems guy’s comments about what we need to do to our ducts, however, and I’ll be a happy camper. Those are the conversations that make me feel like we’re at home, talking on the sofa about the events of the day. It’s exactly the kind of comforting mental image that helps me to slip into slumberland.