Since as long as I can remember I have been terrified of fireworks. When I was younger, before California became the dried up wasteland it is now, fireworks were legal pretty much everywhere and since I spent most of my summers with my dad and my brother so every year I was always in for not only the big fireworks show but a bunch of fireworks that my brother and his friends would torment me with for at least a couple of days. The ironic thing about me being afraid of fireworks is that my two favorite holidays (Independence Day & New Years Eve) have both of them in spades.
When I tell people my favorite holiday is the Fourth of July they never seemed surprised. I’ve loved politics and history since I was about 12 and have also never turned a way to a chance to be decked out in red, white, and blue or eat apple pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I think deeper still is my love of traditions and celebrations that have meaning and importance.
During my years in college I actually rarely spent a fourth in the nations capitol. My first few summers of college were spent as a camp counselor where for three summer I spent the holiday in my swimsuit with my girls at the lake, only remembering it was any different of a day due to the amazing strawberry short cake dessert we got to commemorate the 4th every year at the camp. Post college my 4th of July’s are usually pretty uneventful. The past 4 years in particular have been marked with memories of loneliness or quite nights in watching the fireworks on TV. It’s pretty pathetic.
This year, after finding out none of my friends would be in town, decided to turn it into a work weekend, finding the itch to get out of the city unbearable and preferring to take in somewhere different a motivating factor to drive the length of Colorado to get to Durango for an extended weekend business trip. The fact that I had the ability to make this decision made me feel grateful and thus my drive down to the small town was filled with belting out songs and listening to the entire Aziz Ansari audiobook, Modern Romance. It was a beautiful drive, though sprinkled with rain storms that made it hard to go fast on the twisty wet mountain roads.
I smiled as I passed through a handful of tiny pop up towns, many decorated to the nines for the holiday. Due to the passing of #marriageequality last week I was feeling particularly patriotic and was surprised that I felt a twinge of sadness. Though I had never really thought about it, this was the fourth of July I had always dreamed of and somewhat nostalgically remembered. Families, probably on their way to the fair, or the campgrounds, or the lake all dressed in shorts and tanks but still sweating from the summer heat. The kids begging for ice cream, the parents dying for beer, but all excited for fireworks later in the evening. Friends laughing together, buzzed, maybe high, all shouting out which bar they should walk to, one of them saying they should stop for hot dogs.
You see I do love fourth of July for all the reasons I mentioned above, but none more than this feeling of summer, and friendship, and music, and ice cream, and fireworks. It’s a smell, a picture, a taste that can take you back to this holiday more so than any other and be tinted with nothing but nostalgia and happiness. That’s 4th of July for me, a feeling of happiness.