Earlier this morning I was thinking about the plans that The Boss and I have for tomorrow, the 4th of July. I have the day off from work, and I'm going to be spending a large portion of the day helping my father do some work around his house. The Boss will be doing her own thing around the apartment until late afternoon, when the BBQ (yes, Heather... a BBQ!) my parents are hosting kicks off. We'll probably go catch some fireworks once the sun goes down, which should make for a pretty good day overall.
All of the planning of events for tomorrow got me thinking about how I've celebrated the 4th of July in the past, and I got a little nostalgic. I figured it would be fitting to talk about a fond memory I have of celebrating the 4th from when I was a kid.
When I was in the sixth grade, I had finally come out of my shell enough to make two good friends. For the sake of anonymity, I'll call them Alex and Tim. We were pretty much inseparable throughout the school year, and they both lived close enough to me where we could still hang out during the summer time. It felt good to have some real friends, because prior to them, I didn't have any.
A few weeks after school let out for the summer, I got an invitation in the mail to Tim's birthday party. His parents owned a summer house on a lake, and the invitation was to camp out at the lake house for a few days. I learned that Alex got the same invite, and quickly begged my parents to let me go. Tim's birthday happened to fall on July 4th, and we heard rumor that there was going to be fireworks. Alex and I finally got the approval from our parents, and I waited impatiently until July came around.
The day finally arrived, and my parents drove Alex and I to Tim's lake house. I couldn't wait until my parents left the driveway. I had never had time away from home with friends before, and this was going to be great. Excited as I was, I was also very nervous (As an aside, I believe this is the origin of my nervous stomach problems). Tim's parents must have noticed my nervousness, and they quickly made me feel at home.
There was much to do while at the lake house, but it was raining when we first got there so we all went into Tim's room until the rain passed. We read, played with Lego's and boardgames, and talked incessantly. The rain didn't stop until sometime during the night, so we weren't able to sleep in the tent that night. The next day was bright and sunny, and so the fun began.
We spent as much time as we could outside, and we acted as much as we could like 11 and 12 year old boys do. We went swimming for a while, and then went out in the boat to go fishing. We noticed, and talked about, the group of girls camping on the other side of the lake. We refused help from Tim's dad when setting up the tent, and then realized we had no clue what we were doing. We felt empowered when night came, and we were allowed to light our own sparklers. We burped and farted loudly, and we teased Tim's younger brothers. We ate too much and drank too much, and we complained of sore stomachs until the birthday cake was brought out.
We shouted and yelled excitedly when the fireworks started. We got reprimanded for being so loud by Tim's parents. We laid on our backs with our heads on our hands, watching the fireworks leap into the sky, the smoky path behind them briefly illuminated with its colorful explosion. We used our flashlights to send Morse Code messages to the girls across the lake. We clapped loudly as the fireworks ended, in the traditional chaotic flurry of explosions and spiraling pyrotechnics.
We stayed up late talking, whispering between ourselves about who we had crushes on and which teacher we hated the most. We got scared by strange noises in the woods, and pretended otherwise. We slept for a few hours before the sun came up, and made plans to go out on the boat to see the girls across the lake.
The next morning, we got up and ate breakfast, and made ourselves presentable. We piled into the boat to go see the girls across the lake, but we chickened out halfway there. We went fishing for a little while, and played pranks on the guys buzzing around the lake on jet ski's. We would wait until they would zoom by, and then yell something loudly to get their attention, causing them to turn around too quickly and flip over. That made them very upset, and got back to shore as quick as possible when they started to come near us.
We were overtired from sleeping too little, so the rest of the day was pretty low-key. The rest of the time at the lake house passed all too quickly, and before I knew it my parents had arrived to take me home.
I remember talking to my parents on the way home about how much fun I had, mentioning everything I could think of. I talked so fast that I tripped up on the words, constantly having to pause for a breath and to repeat myself so my parents could understand me. The July 4th camp-out became something of a tradition, and "us three guys" would have two more summers together before high school would start and take us in different directions. As with most people I grew up with, I haven't talked to either Tim or Alex since before graduation. I hope my old friends can look back at those times, and remember then with as much fondness as I do. Those moments of freedom and childhood rebellion are one of the best memories I have of my life, both as a child and as an adult.
Life has changed so much in the years since then, and during the times when I feel just how incredibly small and insignificant I am in this world, I like to be able to remember the moments where I felt so unstoppable.
Whatever your plans may be, I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday.
Have a beer for me.