Years ago, when I worked with jetBlue, I flew out to California with some friends for a day-trip on the Fourth of July. We explored the Hollywood Hills, admiring the impossibly large mansions the celebrities lived in, then wandered up and down Rodeo Drive, gawking at the impossibly high prices of the merchandise those celebrities bought. When that lost its novelty, we made our way to the coast where the rest of the day was spent playing at the beach, happily baking under the golden Southern California sun. The combined lack of worry, the smell of the ocean, and the inherent patriotism of the season made it seem as if we were living, for a day, straight out of a 50's Coke ad. I remember admiring the way the California haze distilled everything into warm, muted tones and wondering if Norman Rockwell himself painted what I beheld.
Like all wonderful days at the beach, that one came to an eventual end. As we made our way back to the airport, we stopped for dinner at a small sandwich shop where we bought cheese steaks from some gnarly gentlemen I can only label as typical California surfers. We were short on time, so we stowed our sandwiches in our backpacks to eat on the plane. Our flight lifted off just as the sun was setting, and as I settled into my seat at the window - cheese steak in hand - I watched the sun disappear into the ocean's burning horizon. Soon the golds and purples of the sunset gave way to deep blues of twilight which gave way to the dark of night. Being entirely spent from a day of fun, I seriously considered sleeping, and as I gazed into the hypnotizing blackness below, my eyes began to grow heavy. I remember the frail, electric skeleton of a city passing slowly underneath us. This caught my attention for a moment and I admired it's filaments of light branching out over the featureless landscape. Then suddenly, in the middle of it all, and to my great surprise, there appeared a tiny burst of cherry red explosions. I sat up. More bursts followed, littering the pocket-sized cityscape like neon confetti - a Fourth of July celebration on a lilliputian scale. It was incredible. And that wasn't the end of it, either. On that night, I had a ticket to every firework show over which our plane silently passed and a unique perspective on the celebration of our country's independence that I'll likely never experience again.
It was the perfect ending to an incredible day.