This was going to be a whole thing, to write more, these pens, everything, and it was all forgotten when Quinn came home for the rest of the summer. It just all went out the window.
Here I am though, at this window, looking down onto the busy shimmery pool, full of kids in regulation red life jackets, calling loudly over the sound of splashing.
Which reminds me of the poster I made in the 2nd or 3rd grade, Water Safety was the theme. Mine said: “Stay afloat. Wear a life coat!” A stretch at best and yet the city saw fit to award me Runner Up and a $50 savings bond that I still have, somewhere, and that sadly won’t be worth much more in my lifetime. I checked.
The poster hung with the other winners in the yacht club building built onto the pier on one of those dead-ends off Narragansett Boulevard, the ones that all dead end after about a dozen houses because the bay is there, or is it still the river at that point. I lived on one of those dead-ends at the time, one a bit further south than the yacht club. The poster hung with the others at the yacht club until it burned down many years later—the yacht club, that is, not just the poster. Like a burning ship, it seems strange something would burn down quite so easily when it’s literally on water.
“The Original Waterfire.”
That was actually what the Gaspee Days called themselves, in that same neighborhood.
Waterfire started as an art installation and has become a regular thing, basically a fair in downtown Providence. Bonfires lit by gondolas dotting along the Providence River, ending in a circle in picturesque Waterplace Park. The Gaspee was a British ship torched by colonists before the Boston Tea Party “started” the “revolution.” Gaspee Days is a yearly commemoration of this event that culminates in a re-enactment burning of a “ship”—just a wooden frame really—on the cove.
Before the burning is a parade that rivals Bristol’s 4th of July parade with its ferocious, devoted following, the only day of the year it is socially acceptable to get drunk in the morning. Which reminds me when one year Siobhain got on a boat so drunk and ended up on the other side of the cove and didn’t know how to get back. I still remember that phone call, she could barely speak, let alone tell me where she was, and we drove around trying to find her, trying to retrace the steps we guessed she’d take, and I finally spotted her, in that bright dress, across the water. A Pawtuxet Village scavenger hunt.