Memories of July 4

Tomorrow is July 4. My boyfriend and I will be traveling down to my parents’ place. I’m glad we’re going down. I’m one of those strange people, who not yet to 30, likes their parents and would be okay with “becoming my mother.” Not entirely of course, but if I could be that strong and amazing it isn’t all bad.

I thought I’d do a post about what July 4 means to me. It would be something patriotic, something grand. Then I realized that wasn’t it. Don’t get me wrong, I love this country. Anywhere that lets me exist as I am is great. We just have a long way to go so that everyone has the right to exist as they are and not be judged or reprimanded under the law.

So, if not that, then what? What does July 4 really mean to me?

That’s easy. It means cotton candy and spinning rides, until my motion sickness kicked in and I couldn’t do them anymore. It means sitting with my parents and brother in the growing twilight, the old yellow blanket spread across the damp grass while we wait for planets and stars to dot the sky.

Then the first explosion in the sky, blinding and fierce with its sound traveling outward. The chorus of “Oooo”s and “They’re starting!” fill the night as the echoes of the bang fade. The next goes up, then the next. The night is filled with color and sound, eyes no longer see. Ears can’t hear anything except the faint echoes still vibrating within.

The finale overloads the senses. People begin to move. We gather our things and start toward the car. It seems like forever away. Mom parked far enough that we wouldn’t have to wait for traffic, but people are always farther and we always have to wait for an opening.

My brother and I sit in the back seat, tired but still wound up from the show. It was awesome. They always are. We’re going again next year, right Mom? She says she doesn’t know. It’s a pain in the ass to get down here every year, but we went through high school.

The next day was the parade. An early morning, up and moving. We parked at my Aunt’s, then walked down to the corner. The sun was hot, and we waited forever. We were almost at the end of the route. Eventually, when we thought they forgot about us, the first float reached us. The town doing it’s best to show the theme. Whatever it was that year. Dad waited for the bagpipes.

Then it was back home to get ready for the picnic. Dad cooked on the old brick fireplace in the yard. The metal grate bent from one of the cousins standing on it. We helped gather food and stuff from my Grandmother’s house. Family showed up, bringing their own dishes of food to share. When the meat was done, we ate.

It was magical. It might just be memory now, making it better than it was, but memory has a habit of skewing things. I’m going to hang on to the memories. They’re what makes live worth living.

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