If you put all the components of summer in a blender – barbeques, swimsuits, campfires, love, ice cream – and mix them up, you get a parade.
Is anything more summery than a parade?
And let’s, for nostalgia’s sake, make it a small town parade. A small town parade is a mortally personal affair.
Difficult not to both mock and admire the hometown effort at the same time. A lot of coordination, if not money, has gone into this. Just so residents can park themselves in patriotic folding chairs and chug root beer, razzing acquaintances who perspire, smile, and wave, wave, wave along the parade route. Look at them. They’re embarrassed, in a pleasant way. They like the attention but aren’t used to it. A car covered in plastic carnations honks jauntily to the lingering truck in front, get going.
Remember when you were in the parade? someone says, followed by a communal laugh at the memory. Hard to truly remember, only sensory traces remain – the sun bearing down, a jittery anticipation.
Components of a small town parade are universal. Here are more you may recognize:
Gymnasts in textiles that remain staunchly 80’s
Thinly veiled advertising
The parade ends at the fairground.
In childhood, the fairground evoked a Sunday School description of heaven: endless play and prizes, food, music, loved ones.
The manufactured mirth seems apparent as an adult, plainly hollow and even minimally sinister, but it still somehow retains a little of what you once went bananas for.
At the age of forty, Albert Camus returned to Algiers, “the city of summer,” to revisit the beauty of his childhood. His return, however, coincided with the rainy season. Luckily a reprieve from the rain came and Camus was able to visit again the Bay of Tipasa and the ruins nearby. He rediscovered, in the middle of winter, the places he’d loved as a child.
“I finally learned,” he wrote, “that within me there lay an invincible summer.”