Wednesday, July 6, 2011

independence day .

Yesterday was July 4th, and as everyone knows that marks the day of our independence as a nation, the date when we officially declared ourselves free of the tyranny of our parent nation. Over the years since I was born there have been a lot of traditions made for July the 4th. Because of the younger ages of the family members, it has yet to become just another excuse to get plastered on a random day of the week -- instead, there are generally barbecues involved and going to various fireworks celebrations.

But this year was entirely different, perhaps breaking the train of tradition for good.

Normally, on July 3rd we would go to the fireworks display in Red Bank, which are done on the 3rd because they are the same guys who do the show in New York City on the Hudson on the 4th. It may not be as big or as grand as the NYC ones, but the show is still always spectacular. It draws a huge crowd, and streets are closed, and the riverside parks are packed with people that show up in the early afternoon just so they can get a seat on the grass. You quickly scurry from the faraway parking spot that you found on some random side street to mark your territory with a blanket and some chairs, hoping that no one will see fit to move you, or even worse, set up chairs in front of you, partially blocking your view.

While all awaited sunset and eventually darkness, various bands played from a stage, food vendors cooked up their delicious delicacies that will most likely go straight to your hips, and people mingle. Usually we would bring board games or books, or sketchbooks, or a walkman. Yes, this was so long ago that I remember not even having an iPod. Just my old trusty CD player. I would also bring along the old cassette player too though, because it had a built-in radio and along with the fireworks there was a soundtrack aired through a specific station just for that display.

And so I would watch the fireworks, no longer scared of the big booms, with headphones on and laying back on the blanket.

A few years ago I started going to a friend's condo in The Bluffs, one of the ritzy neighborhood condo complexes right on the river, and watch the fireworks from their boat, the private dock, or the 4th floor 'poop deck' as we called it, at the top of their building. There was always food and drinks, but it always felt a little bit weird to not be spending the day with the family. Sure, we'd go jetskiing and swimming and such, but it wasn't the same. Nonetheless, I kept going back there year after year, until last year, when work interfered. This year I had planned on going, but decided in the end I just wasn't up for it, especially since the weather was so crappy and the show would probably be canceled anyways.

Now on the night of the actual 4th is where the way-back-when memories begin:
This was one of the nights when all of the traffic on my street would totally and completely back up. Since we had the luxury of living on the same road as the park at which the fireworks were displayed, we could simply walk down the road, moving, comically enough, faster than most of the cars stuck in traffic. It was also nice to be able to get out of the park at the end without any trouble. We'd play outside catching lightning bugs in the front yard after having eaten a feast of a barbecue with many grilled treats and the occasional family friends there to partake with us. Sometimes we'd sit on the porch just counting the cars as they went by, but in the end, we'd always lose count. I remember one time my brother and I played with these velcro things in the yard (see picture). The fireworks were always an opportunity to see family friends and hang out with my-age friends as well, and especially to sort of catch up with everyone as a mid-summer extravaganza. The display was never really that impressive, but the town was still always very appreciative and cheered loudly for the crew that walked around and lit all of the fireworks they had set up by hand. It's been a big part of my childhood.

As I said before though, this year was completely different.

After deciding not to go to Red Bank the night before, I realized then that I would not be attending any fireworks display at all. My parents took my brother to the designated meeting spot for his trip to Europe, and then as soon as they came home took my sister back to her apartment in Philly. They asked if I wanted to come along, and I opted not to. I'm still not sure if I should have or not. I guess I was afraid it would just take up too much time.

So there I was at home, blowing time and such, as per the usual on my days off. I decided to head out for a bike ride, and it was a good one, the second day of breaking in the new wheels of my road bike. On the way home I passed the park down the road from me, and it was a painful sight to see the "No fireworks display" sign posted at the entrance. I got to wondering how many hopeful viewers had showed up only to be disappointed. The town just didn't have enough money to put it on. They moved the country fair up from it's normal time in August to July so that they could do fireworks there the first night (Friday, the 1st) as a sort of combination of the fair and the Fourth of July. The Fair was pitiful this year, all it had were booths and food, and an exorbitant price to get in. I would imagine it was a bust...

I lounged around until late and then flipped on the TV as I ate my microwaved leftovers, only to find the last 10 minutes of the NYC fireworks on. And thus, I spent my July 4th watching fireworks on TV, for the first time I think ever, all alone with a microwaved meal. I had tried contacting some people to go out to eat, but alas, everyone is with family on the 4th, as they should be. It just all felt weird, and despite all of the squabbles I have with my parents, it felt wrong. I guess you could say it was a less-than-perfect holiday.

But, the great thing is, it comes every year without fail. Perhaps next year will be the year of new traditions.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Would love to hear what you are thinking. Leave a comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...