a collective (bang and) sigh of relief//

Well, I’m continuing the trend from the last post and doing a bit of writing for the sake of catharsis. I like this idea anyway of words flowing from images. I took this one down the street this morning.


In a normal year, I’m usually travelling between Christmas and NYE, because it’s usually pretty dead in the city around that time. It’s also a good time to try and grab a few days of winter sun. Last year I spent Christmas day walking around a completely deserted forest reserve on Sao Miguel island on my own. It was eerie, but it was amazing. Pure nature. A total dream day. This year, under the current Tier 4 restrictions, I stayed home like I was supposed to (although I had invites from friends to join them at theirs). In the evening, my neighbour and I dragged out chairs into the shared hallway, put on our biggest coats and had a drink by candlelight; a cool little bonding session.


Even when I’m travelling, I’m usually back home before NYE, to decompress before getting back to work the Monday after. I’ve always been loathe to go out and see the big fireworks in the city. The idea of being in the crush of people in the cold doesn’t appeal to me. The last time I thought fireworks were actually beautiful, was watching the red glow of them reflected in the turquoise waters of the ocean at Arniston, when I was a teen. The air was still warm from the scorching day, and from the bluff where we were sitting, we watched a few drunken skinny dippers run into the waves below. Red glow, blue water, white waves, warm air. Some memories stick like that.

Last night I went to bed around 11pm, feeling mellow (and slightly drunk), and thinking I might sleep right through the fireworks. But I was stirred by something like the sound of popcorn popping in another room just before midnight. I was going to stay in my warm bed, but the noise increased, and beckoned me to do what I always do. Open the dormer window, and watch it all go off. Fireworks are always big around here, but it felt like everyone had bought twice the amount they usually do, and was hell bent on blasting every bad memory of 2020 to smithereens. Every internal scream, every anxious/frustrated hour, every depressed feeling, was tied to a rocket and blasted into the night. The sound of it resembled a war zone. Every loud pipebomb-sounding explosion, every multipop, every screech and every whistle, was aimed at obliterating 2020. The red flashes on the horizon resembled lightning.

I suppose fireworks are meant to be celebratory, but from where I stood, it looked like a send off. A great big “f*** you” to the year gone. A cleansing of sorts. I thought about the people I met around my neighbourhood this year, and in bordering neighbourhoods, seeing and hearing the same thing. Wondering what they were thinking and feeling just then. I felt a weird sense of solidarity, even though I curse the fireworks every year. Eventually the noise started dying down to a low crackle. The air was thick with smoke. It blanketed us. Everything and everyone. And I imagined a collective sigh of relief rising up through it.

The sound of it

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s