Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Independence Day

We humans are funny about our independence.
Take a look around you right now, and you’ll realize we’re willing to accept a whole lot of baloney, just so long as we feel some sense - even an illusion - of control.  We in the United States have the right to speak freely, to vote, to choose between Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.  This makes us happy - or content at the very least.  We grouse about this or that, but for the most part we keep our noses to the grindstone.  We ignore some glaring problems in our society.  We show up for our jobs, pay our bills, wash the car, walk the dog, coach the baseball team.
We are good.
But then, every so often, something shifts.  ‘Good’ becomes less of a priority.  We want better.
In 1775, there was no United States.  There was a little grouping of disparate colonies at the end of their proverbial rope with British rule.  No taxation without representation.  This tagline became a battle cry by July 4, 1776, and thirteen pathetic colonies took on the mighty Great Britain.
And won.
The intricacies of why and how have been explored in far too many volumes to compress into a blog post.  I won’t get into it here.  I’m a chick lit writer, not an historian.  But consider the bottom line: an underdog, feeling wronged, sought independence.
And won.
Pretty cool.  Worthy of celebration.  We in the USA celebrate July 4th now with barbecues and fireworks and an overabundance of red, white and blue.  We have parades and parties.  A day or two out of work and on the beach.
For the past ten years, I’ve spent Independence Day in Snug Harbor, a quaint little community that does its July Fourth celebration up big.  There’s a parade with everything from a plethora of town fire trucks to classic cars, a drill brigade wielding fishing poles, and homemade floats towed by golf carts and pickup trucks.
I started small, inviting a couple of friends over to join the festivities with me and my son at our little apartment by the sea.  Years later, when I married and had my own home in the area, the party grew.  My husband and I entertained an ever-expanding group of guests, and over time, the festivities took on a life of their own.  Most guests were awesome.  Some were not.  Some arrived days earlier than invited.  Others stayed far longer than we’d have liked.  There were too many dogs and kids and hungover adults for our small home, too much “togetherness” in the summer heat. The holiday that had been a fond tradition for me and my husband became a great big chore.  
You know, of course, what I began to crave…
Freedom from the tyranny of being the hostess with the mostess, the Snug Harbor Martha Stewart.
I was living in Starbucks when what I really wanted was Dunkin.
I had the taxation, but no representation.
(Yeah, yeah.  Too far with the metaphor there?)
This year, I will pass the Fourth of July with so little fanfare I might not know it’s happening.  I’ve chosen to retreat to a writer’s space where I (with my loyal parti poodle writing assistant) will be the only resident for several days.  Right now I have the sense that spending time in solitude, reading and writing and breathing, is what I need.
It’s born of necessity, but it’s also a luxury, the freedom I have to choose this time and space for myself.  A luxury that, in many ways beyond the fact of a long weekend holiday, began in 1776, when our forefathers decided they just didn’t want to take Great Britain’s shit anymore.
None of us should take shit, from Great Britain or anyone else.
Truly, I will miss Snug Harbor’s Fourth of July celebration this year.  I’ll miss my friends.  I hope to come back to it next year, renewed and with a fresh approach, if only because there are few occasions that so perfectly fuse patriotism with excessive drinking and use of Super-Soakers, water balloons, and fireworks.
But for now, I welcome the change of scenery, the chance to look after myself, the opportunity to create and make progress on the path to something better.
I welcome Independence.

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