For a couple of decades starting in high school, July 4th meant our 'gang' gathered in our home town for the parade that I frequently described as 'middle America standing up and screaming here we are.' The parade route ended at the family home of my first true love and his family always had a big party where we all spent the day before moving on to the home of another friend who had bought a house in a neighboring town with big pool, a bring your own meat BBQ and a view of the fireworks from his front lawn.
All through college, and for many years after we graduated and made our way into ‘the real world,' we all made the pilgrimage back to our home town and each other for 'the fourth.’ It was something to be counted on and worked around, it was immutable. Every year, we were there. We were there with boyfriend and girlfriends, and then husbands and wives, and eventually with our own children. And then, one by one, our parents retired and moved away, and our annual reunion faded into our collective past.
We all keep up as best we can, leading, as we do, the busy lives of parents of children older than we were when the tradition began, and taking care of the parents we used to count on to watch our children while we behaved as if we were still very, very young. Tonight, as I listen to boom of the firecrackers off in the distance, I miss those carefree days and the silly girl I was.