i got home from maine at 3pm and checked my e-mails. there was one from renata alerting me to the fact that she was still in rhode island at her parents' place. i gave her a call, nobody answered the phone, so i left a message on the machine. when i got back out from my shower, she called me and said she was returning to cambridge so we could go see the fireworks on the charles river together. renata arrived around 6pm. when she told me she ate lobster earlier, i asked to smell her hands and could detect faint traces of that shellfish (of which i don't exactly hate, but i'm not very fond of either, even though renata told her father that i hate them). she wanted to see the photos i'd taken while i was up in maine. never mind all the nature i saw during my stay in the northern state, renata was most entertained by the series of yang family portraits in the forest where i was the only one who wasn't smiling. getting late, close to 7pm, we left for the T station. along the way, we bumped into ed and joe on oxford avenue, enroute to bruce's place. we exchanged some pleasantries and continued on our way.

since it was sunday, renata got to ride free on my MBTA subway pass as an honorary guest. we decided to go to central square, where we got some falafels to go from the falafel palace, then walking via mass avenue down to MIT. in the sky we could see a goodyear blimp floating about (you know it's going to be good time when blimps show up, that's just a given). we could already see a general exodus of people making their way in the same direction. during our walk, renata pointed out all the restaurants and cafes she's been to along that long stretch of road. we stopped briefly by the student center, renata waited for me outside while i went in to use the bathroom. coming back out, i secretly bought some candy from the convenience store as a surprise.

we found a great spot on the corner of mass avenue and memorial drive, sitting on the sidewalk, pressed up against the metal fence lining the edge of the charles river. we were surrounded by spreads of blankets and lawn chairs, people having staked out their claim of territory before we arrived. somebody had a radio turned to WBZ's broadcast of the celebration on the esplanade so everyone could hear what was going on.

after we finished eating (my falalel was a wee bit spicy for my taste, and a messy food too, next time, go with something that's eaten with a fork), renata left to go use the bathroom while i guarded her spot from position hungry folks looking to take her prime viewing location. once keith lockhart started the show, there was an overhead flyby of several fighter jets, which made me nervous. usually when other people (non-americans) see those things, it's followed by death and destruction. when renata returned, she brought back a bag of candy, which forced me to reveal my own secret bag of candy as well. renata noticed that neither one of us go the same kind of candy, and neither one of us got anything chocolate. i let her feed on the sweetness while i hurried off and went to go use the student center bathroom one more time before the fireworks started. i came back to witness the fireworks sampling that accompanied the playing of the 1812 overture. once that was over, there was a long lull before the 20 minutes fireworks bonanza would start. originally i thought the show would be on at 9pm, but we didn't see more fireworks until after 10pm.

during the time we waited, listening to the music being performed across the river in the hatchshell, renata called her father with my cellphone. i made sure she told him that i don't really hate lobsters. there was just enough space for renata to lie down, and i could've sworn she was posing for the camera, but she denied those charges, and asked to see all the photos i took of her, which she promptly deleted every single one, which only made me want to take even more photos (and also made me turn on the feature in my camera where you can't erase photos anymore). we heard two songs performance by musical guest david lee roth: rocker, 80's sex symbol, hair care products aficionado, and fellow patriot. "wish they could all be california girls" was good, but when i heard "jump" i almost wanted to kick it right then and there as i was magically transported to 80'sville. i described to renata the changing spandex pants DLR wore in the "jump" video. she confused that song with the pointer sisters' "jump for my love."

we were getting pretty tired, and since it was after 10pm, renata could barely hang on. as soon as the fireworks started though, we forgot all about being drowsy and watched the pyrotechnic spectacle. renata liked them big and showy, i prefer the gimmicky fireworks like the ones that form into a star or the shape of a heart. we were so close that some of my photos were overexposed from the brightness. across the river, the prudential building reflected back all the myraid of colors like a vertical mirror. sometimes when the smoke mixes with the bright flares and lit up in different colors, it reminds me of those photos of space nebulas.

when the show was over, there was a mass exodus into the street. renata and i pressed ourselves into the crowd and just went with the flow, eventually making it out to mass ave, where we visited the student center for the final time, using its facilities. on the radio a police gave an estimate of about half a million people in attendance tonight. i had that number in mind when i went to go use the bathroom, so i was surprised when it was virtually empty. it was only when we left the building did we see the swarm of bathroom seekers attacking the place.

since it was such a pleasant night, we decided to walk home via the charles river. little did we realize how long it'd take. renata, stretched to the limit of her staying awake endurance, soldiered on, although i would've gladly given her a piggyback ride until my knees unbuckle. occasionally we'd see a canoe paddling through the charles, making it way back to the docks, or perhaps the silhouette of a couple sitting by the riverbanks. MIT students, intoxicated, ingenius, pumped music out onto memorial drive from ridiculously loud speakers. others were walking away from boston like us, passing us as we slowly trudged along with our 30something legs. when we got to jfk street by harvard square, in the darkness of the night a woman on a bicycle and a man rollerblading quickly sped past us. i had a flash of recognition, looked back and shouted, "eliza jones!" i couldn't be sure, but worth a try. "yeah!" she answered, turning the bike around, not fully realizing who it was quite yet. it was eliza and david, on their way home from watching fahrenheit 9/11 in harvard square. we exchanged some pleasantries then went on our merry way.

finally, approaching midnight, we made it back to my street. by then we had sniffed a few roses along the way, and i trash dived a few glass vases from a box of discarded junk on the side of the road. renata, groggy-like, climbed into her car and went home. i waved good bye from my doorstep as she drove by.

read how i celebrated independence day in past years: 2003, 2002, and 2001.

i woke up at 9am with some back pains, my body not used to the stiffness of sleeping on the ground despite going to bed on a relatively soft roll of padding. i zippered out of the tent and sat in a folding chair until breakfast was ready, a fusion of pancakes and chinese rice porridge. i opted for the rice porridge, ate it from a styrofoam cup with a plastic fork that i was told by my mother to save because we didn't have enough utensils. after breakfast, we cleaned up our campsites a little bit. since my sister and i wouldn't be coming back (everyone else was staying another night), there was a scramble of cameras to get some family photos before we left. for some reason i was in a cranky mood and couldn't break a smile, even when i was purposely inflating my stomach into a pot belly for our family portrait. the original plan was to go deep sea fishing, but they couldn't get in touch with the cruise people so instead we opted to go to wolfe's neck woods state park on the other side of freeport (stopping briefly at down freeport itself to find some info but the office was closed).

wolfe's neck woods state park has got to be one of the best nature preserves i've been to all summer. some trails circle around the edge of a cliff where down below lies rocky shores and the atlantic ocean. the breeze from the water keeps things cool, and deep inside the forest carpeted with red pine needles are many places to explore. if only it was raining, i'm pretty sure i'd find red newts here. although only 245 acres, it felt a lot bigger. i saw an osprey in its nest, springtails congregating in a tidal pool, and a garter snake (only the second time i've ever seen a live snake in the wild).

osprey in nest


garter snake

wolf's milk slime


chicken mushroom

after a tour of the park, my sister and i headed back to boston while everyone else stayed behind, visiting a farm the last we saw of them. we made a detour in kittery to get some fried clams before continuing on with the driving. even though i had something like 10 hours of sleep, i was still drowsy and was unconscious for most of the ride back. i only woke up when we were almost in cambridge. the first thing i did when i got home was to take a hot shower.