Happy Fourth

Sisters pose together on the Fourth of July. They are wearing homemade patriotic dresses.
Big sister Mia holds little sister Lizzie on July 4, 2013. Hinesville, GA

Happy fourth of July! Happy birthday to our homeland! Today is the perfect day to forget political nonsense for one blissful, cotton pickin’ minute. Just like on anyone’s birthday, today we think only about all the GOOD qualities of our country, and all the reasons why we love it SO much. Simon Sinek put this so aptly in his article yesterday, “We Have a Legacy to Uphold.” He is always apropos.

I’ve lived in 7 states in this country so far, and I’ve loved them all for different reasons.

Although I like to say that I’m allowed to say that New York sucks because I’m from there, it still holds a special place in my heart since it is the state of all my childhood memories. Chasing after ice cream trucks on Suzanne Lane. Writing plays with my cousins and recording them with Grandma’s big video camera. Feeling like a superhero after seeing Hercules at the movie theater. Memorizing the scene in the Empire Strikes back when Luke meets Yoda. Getting stung by a bee for the first time on the see saw at recess in third grade, and crying. Playing with Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, barbies, Polly Pockets, and Fisher Price. Battleship, Perfection, Dominoes, Tumbling Tower, Guestures, Clue, Uno, Brainquest, Boggle, Madlibs, Monopoly, and Life. Watching fireworks at the ballgame. Playing fuse ball and tether ball at the pool all summer. Freeze pops. Working the concession stand at my brother’s Babe Ruth Little League games. Gardening with my parents. Going to Riding High dude ranch with the 4-H club and riding horses and paddle boats and eating cornbread. Volunteering every August at the Altamont Fair. Strawberry shortcakes and baby chicks. Piano lessons. Flute lessons. Church. Watching the Phantom of the Opera on repeat for weeks before my French class went to see it performed at Proctor’s. Apple picking. Apple pies. Watching the leaves paint their way of riotous color through October. Raking the crunchy brown ones and jumping in their piles. The pumpkin patch. Peeing my pants on the haunted hayride (hey, a guy in a Jason mask jumped out screaming in the dark!). Writing in my diaries with their little metal locks. Feeling like a vampire all winter long because I caught the bus at 7am and didn’t get home til 4. Hating snow by February. Checking out huge stacks of books from the libraries. Sewing with my Grandma. Fishing with my dad at lock 8 on the Erie Canal. Baking bread with my mom. Fighting with my little brother and bonding over Coldplay. Playing D&D with my friends. I had the quintissential, idealistic, all-American childhood. I was a lucky kid and I’ve never forgotten that.

Man, I can almost hear Younger playing in the background.

My college days in Boston where equally nothing short of magical. I loved every minute of it even on my worst days, when I was severely sleep-deprived and in pain and crying from my latest breakup and the unfairness of it all. In the background I always had my subconscious tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me that these days were precious and that my time here wouldn’t last. I’ll never forget drinking endless pots of coffee at 2am and literally propping my eyelids open so I could finish reading Heart of Darkness and countless other novels I had to read for all my lit classes, watching the sun rise over Fenway park from my 5th floor apartment while I rushed to meet an essay deadline, boats gliding along the sparkling Charles river, the T rumbling through Kenmore square. When we had pregamed and were on our way to Allston for house parties we used to “surf the T,” aka see how long we could stay balanced without holding on. That was fun.

After I graduated I went to Korea to teach English in the public school system. While I appreciated learning first-hand about a culture so foreign to my own, I did not appreciate the Koreans’ xenophobia and nationalism. I got tired of norebangs (karaoke rooms) and kimchi and the unofficial landfill next to my apartment and the restaurant I had to walk past every day that made pig intestine cooked ten different ways, real fast. I missed pasta and bagels and waffles and diners. I missed home. I missed America.

After that my husband and I married in 2011 and moved to Georgia. Despite it’s humidity and mosquitoes and giant spiders and bless your hearts, I love Georgia dearly. We still own a house there and I miss it. I miss it’s giant bedrooms and low windowsills and the oak trees in the backyard. One year my girls and I collected acorns and made acorn flour, and acorn pancakes. I miss Savannah’s dirty, windy beaches and her old, old cobblestone streets. I miss Farmer’s Natural Foods, fresh pecans, and fresh peaches. About once a month, pretty much on cue, we talk about moving back there.

Even Texas has a place in my heart. With all the garbage that use to blow out of everyone’s trash cans all over every neighborhood. With it’s dry, brown mountainscape. The prickly pear cacti with yellow flowers. The Mexicans that stole from our garage sales. The burr stickers that stuck to everything and hurt like a motherfucker. There is something about a place that sticks to us like that. Captures us. Never lets us go.

I recently finished reading the book The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah. Incredible book. I would highly recommend it. Also incredibly sad. The overarching theme of the novel is how a place (like Alaska, in the book) gets into our bones, our blood, and becomes a part of us so integrally. The place becomes a part of who we are.

I’ve lived in so many states, but it has only deepened my love for my country. Even though I like to say that no one hates the Army more than an Army wife, even the worst days in the Army never lessened my love for my country.

There is just something about Home.

I may not be an Alaskan, a New Yorker, a Bostonian, a Georgian, a Texan, or a true Coloradan,  but on today and on all days, I am proud to be an American.
Note: The dresses in this picture are Mama-made in 2013. The pattern for the one in front worn by 1 yo Lizzie is the Aria Tuxedo Ruffle Dress, and the one in back is the Fairy Flutter Dress by the same pattern maker, Little Lizard King. However, Fairy Flutter is no longer a published pattern.

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