2007-07-04

Feeling all patriotic. And self-absorbed (What? Me? On my blog? Surely not!)


Happy Fourth, everyone.

If you asked one of my friends from high school (or college, or through my twenties for that matter) what my favorite holiday was they'd unhesitatingly answer, "The Fourth of July." There was something about the electricity of the day, the "Oooohing!" and "Aaaaahing!" over the fireworks, and the consistency of the celebrations that appealed to me. No matter where I lived, I could count on fireworks.

Probably because it meant so much to me, I remember every Fourth of July since I was very young. I'll spare you the entire list, but here's a sampling:

When I was six we laughed as our dog, a huge husky, jumped into our car through an open window at the first fireworks boom. We discovered then that he hated loud noises. Sorry about that, Bandit.

At eight, I listened to the fireworks as I snuggled in my bedroom; it hinted at adult things about which I had no idea.

When I was thirteen, I peeked at the the fireworks from my bedroom window and felt connected (in the visceral, obsessive way only an adolescent can do and still be healthy) with a boy I liked who I knew was at the festivities downtown.

At fifteen, three of my friends and I laid on a picnic blanket, staring up at the West Point fireworks show over the Hudson River. I was moving from New York to the Midwest a few days later...the fireworks were my last hurrah with my friends.

When I was seventeen I went to a fireworks show on a first date with a boy that became My First Boyfriend. We dated for nearly three years; next to my husband he is by far the sweetest boy I dated.

At nineteen I celebrated the International Freedom Festival (a joint celebration between Detroit and Windsor over the Detroit River) with My First Boyfriend's family on their boat; the wakes of barges tossed around the private boat we were on, music blared from adjacent yachts, I was young and in love.

At twenty-one I watched fireworks from the rooftop of a 19th century Michigan State University lecture hall onto which my friends and I had climbed via fire escapes. We smoked, drank beer, and felt exhilarated in the way you only can when you are free, confident, and the world is before you.

When I was 23 I spent the Fourth of July on a beach in Greece, toasting my friends back home. I did the same at 27.

At 31 my husband-to-be and I spent a Fourth of July with a bunch of friends, watching fireworks from a golf course that we had snuck onto.

At 33 we watched fireworks from the second story balcony of our new home, barely visible above the trees in our backyard. Our baby son slept.

At 35 we watched the tips of our new city's (new state as well) official fireworks from our second story window. Our toddler boy slept.

At 38 we were in our present home, same city (same state as well!). We drove to the opposite end our street, about 1/5 of a mile from our far west cul-de-sac, from which we looked past the corn, the protected wetlands, the rice farms, towards the Sacramento River. We could see the explosions of a nearby city's show. Our baby daughter slept and our son was thrilled he was allowed to stay up so late.

Today all five of us walked to a neighborhood block party...potluck breakfast followed by a "parade" behind a firetruck. A quarter mile later, the kids took turns alternating between squirting the fire hose and being squirted. It's a tradition that has been going on for over thirty years now; our family has participated for the past four years.

I still love the Fourth, but it isn't my favorite holiday anymore. It's not as exciting to me. I don't need it anymore; I don't need its electricity, its "Oooohing!" and "Aaaaahing!", its consistency. I have it in my life everyday now.

Or, maybe I'm just old and lame. I dunno.

4 comments:

  1. mzsamiam5:59 PM

    What a beautiful dog. What beautiful memories!

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  2. Your not old and lame, it's just a different kind of "Oooohing!" and "Aaaahing!". Our perspectives change as we get older and have our children and family lighting our nights in our everyday life! We had a neighborhood party too, but it was last Saturday, before the fourth. We spent the day blocking off the street with a big water slide . . . It was so much fun!

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  3. You know, I don't have the same feeling about it anymore, either. I think it's because I have kids and the thought of them playing with exploding things puts a damper on the holiday.

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  4. Now the excitement is watching the little ones "ooooh" and "aaaah!"

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Brilliant observations: