I love you, Memorial Day weekend. To me, you’re High Americana, shot through with just enough melancholy to keep things from getting too cheesy. While the Fourth of July is all about the tacky machismo of, say, losing an eye in a firecracker injury, you’re more about feeling nostalgic for something that never existed.
I’m all for emo patriotism.
I want to peel off a hundred dollar bill
and slap it down on the counter.
You can pick out a dress. I’ll pick out a tie: polka dots
spinning like disco balls. Darling let’s go
two-stepping in the sawdust at the Broken Spoke.*
Memorial Day weekend offers a sense of expansiveness, a certain generosity of spirit that I admire in others but have never quite managed in myself.
Let’s get hitched in Nevada. Just you, me, and Elvis.
We could sell cheese curd in Wisconsin.
We could rent the sky in Montana.
I could pay off my bills.
There’s this sense that anything’s possible.
This weekend, I want to make mudpies with Walt Whitman. I'll teach him to hum rock songs and he'll teach me not to be so afraid of birds.
I want to drink real Coke and watch old movies with Frank O’Hara. (And I don’t even like old movies. Or real Coke.)
I want to take a road trip with Sufjan Stevens and stare at him the whole way to California.
I want to have my beastly way with Matthew Dickman at one of the rest stops. Then we'll drive to some weird hotel in a state that I’m too dumb to find on the map.
We’ll walk to the community theater and invite the cast out for drinks after. We’ll sing Billy Joel songs at a bar that doesn’t believe in irony.
(Basically, I’m a gay man in my secret heart.)
You are everywhere, sweet Carolinas.
You’re my boss, Tennessee, you honeysuckle.
Sadly, my real life doesn’t have the plot of a quaint porno. So instead of doing those things, I’m going to hunker down on a patio somewhere and drink some beer, which also sounds pretty good.
America, let’s put our feet in the water! Let’s tie a rock
around our waist and jump in. The river
is rolling by. Tom Petty is singing about a girl from Indiana
and I am buying you another drink. I am trying to take you home.
Outside it’s the kind of warm where your skin feels charged after a spell in the sun. Maybe you’ll glow like a lightstick when it gets dark.
Summer is starting and your heart is so fucking full that a few lazy afternoons might make up for the unfairness, the pity, that we're not allowed to hold these fleeting gifts in our grubby human hands.
*All excerpts are from “All-American Poem,” by Matthew Dickman.