Ears of corn, cold crispy cherries, a bowl of macerated berries. A cake decorated like the US flag. Shriveled hotdogs. Picnics. Somehow sand always enters the picture, even if you haven’t been to the beach. Bunting. A red bandanna around the neck of a pug or a golden retriever. Pinwheels. And lots of cold white wine. It’s such a clean holiday. Catalog neat. A fixed set of expectations and norms mingling with the whimsy of summer. Jersey tomatoes, fresh salted cheese, a chiffonade of basil from someone who gardens. Pitcher drinks. Half-days at work, where you wonder why you had to show for the first half at all. From last year’s Fourth of July entry:
It was my resolution, and come July 4th each year, I remember it. I celebrate it. And when the fireworks sound from afar, and I begin to grinch out on them, unsure what the whole appeal is, I’ll remind myself that I should be proud. Proud that I cut myself off, forced myself to sever the bad ties and took steps toward my own independence. Even though I’m married with children now, a mother with her own two dependents, I like to remember and honor the strides I took to get here. And for me those steps required me to walk away, not toward, someone. I like this idea, that the 4th of July should serve as a reminder not just of our country and those who fought and continue to fight for it, but should keep us in check, questioning our resolutions and reminding us where we want to go to feel our most free.
I’m proud of what I’ve gone through to get here. And when I say "here" I don’t mean married or mommy, I mean away from my sandbagging behaviors. I’m proud that I have the courage to live out loud, in the face of people who’ll always look to tear me down for doing just that. And I sincerely hope in sharing how I got here it will encourage others to live their most free lives, free of the fear of what others might think.
It’s as true today as it was last year. It’s one of the best things about keeping a record of your life: you have the ability to chart your progress, to check in and keep yourself honest. In the coming year, I hope to learn what the hell balance is because I’m finding it’s really just an act. I love my time with my children, studying their bodies, knowing the turn of each curve, the shape of each toe, the exact expression of their bellybuttons. I also love what I do for a living. I love creating things that touch people, that possibly make people laugh, or even cry, but mostly make them think. The bottom line is this: when I think of my identity, who I really am, do I think "mother" or do I think "writer" first? I guess it depends on the day, or the minute. Sometimes I feel like a failure at both, other times, I feel like I should be bronzed. Okay, not really. I know the key is to wear all of our identities loosely, that we shouldn’t just see ourselves as our career, our relationship, or our family tree. We’re more than any of those things, and if one descriptor goes away, however sad and seemingly defeating, there’s a lot more to us. Figuring out how many balls to juggle is my challenge right now. Because unlike what I’ve been told, I cannot have it all.
I recognize that in the past it was all about turning away instead of toward someone, but now I’m with someone. In the coming year, I want to make strides to change, so there’s less yelling in this house, fewer power struggles, and much more harmony. It’s a chance to create my own fireworks and light, and I’m not letting it pass me by.
Fourth of July posts of my past:
July 4th, 2005: I felt like I had to kiss her back or else I’d be seen as a horrible kisser. I mean, I’d rather go down in history as bisexual before I was thought of as a bad kisser. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re making out with an avocado.
July 4th, 2004 PHOTOS: Where I emancipated one too many a man from their bedposts