We spent the Fourth of July in New York, as Mike had to work down there the day before and after. I enjoy it as a holiday because it’s so quantitatively different to Waitangi Day as a national celebration, i.e., no-one ever gets mud thrown at them and there are lots of fireworks, whereas we have exported all our fireworks to a day in early November that no-one actually remembers the meaning of. (I had to explain to a colleague who was familiar with the British traditions of Guy Fawkes that I had never burned any effigies on bonfires on November 5 because that assumed far too much familiarity on my country’s part with the origins of the holiday beyond Fireworks, Those Are Fun.) Don’t get me wrong; I’m very fond of Waitangi Day and the way we grapple, if sometimes awkwardly, with the history it represents. But it’s a very different sort of holiday.
Our main purpose was, of course, to see the fireworks, and I was a bit concerned about how we were going to do this without having to wait in a crowded park without toilets for hours until a colleague suggested we go up the Top of the Rock. The argument against this plan was that if she had had this idea, thousands of other people probably had too. The argument for it was that it a) cost money and b) would be assumed that thousands of other people had had it. In the event, there couldn’t have been more than a few hundred people up there spread across three levels. You could see fireworks everywhere you looked, even before the main show began, from Long Island to New Jersey. Not a bad plan, overall.
We also visited Central Park Zoo earlier in the day, not out of any intention to do so but because it was ridiculously hot (a lot of references to leaving New York in summer in fiction now make excellent sense) and we ended up at the gate by accident and I remembered they had polar bears and were thus likely to have some sort of cooled enclosure. As it was, the polar bears were off being air-conditioned, but the penguins were indoors. So were about half the visitors at the zoo, cooling down. It was lovely.
It was, in fact, even slightly cooler in the tropical enclosure than outside. At least it felt that way.
And now, rather precipitously, it’s forty-eight hours and counting until we leave for New Zealand, Mike’s USCIS issues having (fingers crossed, knock on wood, etc.) been sorted out. Like all big trips, it seems to have taken forever to get here and now be happening too soon. I really can’t wait.