The 4th of July is today. It’s one of my favorite people’s birthday. When you ask him when his birthday is, he replies, “July 4th.” I probably would too.
But 4th of July is fraught with bad memories. I’ll tell you about them. I’ll also tell you about the good ones, because there are a few of those.
When I was a girl, my grandparents had a 4th of July party every year. They were in their forties then, young and fun. They could see the fireworks at the fair from the roof of their shed. There was lots of beer, Kessler’s, cigarettes and kids getting accidentally burned by cigarettes. In retrospect, it must have been an awesome party for anyone who wanted to get drunk. Me, not so much. Not a really bad experience, but the first I remember.
There are parades slid in between the others. My dad was a Marine, you see. I don’t differentiate between them because I can’t. Dress blues, horns, boy scouts. Honestly didn’t care then and I don’t care now.
Fast forward. It’s July 4th and the man I am utterly infatuated with drops by. He suggests he can come back later, but he has a barbeque to go to first. He wishes he could bring me, but he’s bringing his real girlfriend instead. Okay, he didn’t say that, but I was really looking forward to being with him later. I got invitation after invitation to go see fireworks, including on from Zennie Abraham, and I turned them all down. About eleven o’clock I realized he really wasn’t going to come and opened my bottle of Jack Daniels. I hadn’t a relationship in a very long time. I felt like more than anything else that I needed this man. I didn’t like it. So I drank the bottle and threw up. I am glad I did. I could have been found drown in my own vomit. Thanks for that one, God.
Fast forward to next year. My future husband, not the man who didn’t show up, and I go to San Francisco and ramble around. We’d had some marriage-like conversations but I really wasn’t ready for all of that. I was only 25. He was only 36. Now 36 sounds young, but it didn’t then. We sat on the beach. A little enclave of French people sat in front of us. It was gaspingly beautiful. I can almost see them now. Of course it is a reconstruction, but I am proud I can construct such a thing.
Fast forward year after that. My future husband and I are engaged. In fact, we’re getting married in two days. We have friends from out of town in town. Our maid of honor was with us. We go to Jack London square for the pops concert and fireworks. I don’t remember if we stayed for fireworks or not, strangely enough. We did go to pizza. And there was the man who sexually assaulted my friend.
My first impulse was to leave. Now, part of me wishes I would have gone up and spoken to him, although I don’t know what I would have said. I went outside and called the friend. He said, “It’s kinda good that you’re there with him. It give you closure.” It was a closure I didn’t know I needed, but I got it. I had no desire for revenge, no anger. I could say I wished I could see Christ in him and only wanted to go to heaven only to meet the real man behind the crimes. I didn’t. I’m at that point right now (mostly.) But to give up my hostility made more room in my heart for other people. They were waiting for me in a booth, expecting me and pizza to come soon.
There are more 4th of July’s. We went to Reno and saw fire work when we were just married. (We also ate the Awful Awful at the Nugget, and if you haven’t you should.) I went to a good friend’s birthday party and played volleyball and saw the fireworks at a great big water park. Now we have a neighbor who does his own marvelous display. This year we will probably watch his fireworks, if he does them. We’re getting ready for a big trip, so we’re not going to worry about it. Which is nice, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, to have one less thing to worry about.