An inexcusable nostalgia drives me there, I confess it; I have no nobler claim.
I am not, by nature, a joiner. I like to be alone. I like my porch and a glass of lemonade, I like books, I like knowing I’m surrounded only by people who will forgive me and pretend not to notice if I say something stupid. So it’s weird how much I love our town’s parades. Our town is small and the parades consist of scouts, bands, police cars, fire trucks, and spectators. We’ve been going since the kids were very little. We park behind the library and wait at the Veteran’s Park and talk to people we only see once a year, on parade days. We follow the parade, after it goes by, to the cemetery and listen to a speech or two and hold our hands over our ears for the gun salute. We follow the parade down main street and every year miss the tossing of the wreath into the river. This year we spotted it as we went over the bridge, a circle of red, white, and blue ribbon floating forlornly in low water. We congregate at the park and children swarm the playground and finally my smile gets tired of working so hard and I know it’s just about time to go. It’s a simple event. This year we said hello to a lot of dogs, primed by the loss of our own a few weeks ago. Our town has some great dogs. I am not a joiner but on parade days I’m grateful to be a part of this town. Most years I’ve carried a child or two on my back or on my front and it feels strange, sometimes, to be without that weight. It feels odd to stand and watch the day with only one boy reaching every so often for my hand. The others are scattered, one marching with his troop and the other bounding with friends among the gravestones and down the hills. It feels odd, but right, that our numbers diminish. Someday only M and I will stand and watch the parade. I wonder what we’ll say to each other. I wonder what we’ll to say to other people, to the younger families still distracted by the thought of toddlers running for the road, or to other couples who ask how our kids doing, who’s graduated from where, how many grandchildren we’ve been granted. It will be sweet to watch the parade, to follow the parade, and then return to our porch and our chickens and our waiting glasses of lemonade and our books. I bet a dog will be there, too.