It is a day to commemorate all the freedoms we enjoy.
This particular Independence Day I discovered it's also a day to abuse those freedoms.
Take this journey with me through a rather unique day.
First stop every 4th of July for us is a good down-home parade. This year would be no exception. There's just something magical about donning red, white, and blue along a dusty street as sweat dribbles down your back pooling into the seat of your canvas folding chair as you watch vehicles roll by and kids dive for candy, dodging the wheels of those said vehicles!
On a side note, there's a couple things about parades I don't quite understand.
1) Why do the horses go first? Shouldn't they be the last entry, based on - ahem - what they leave behind? Just doesn't make sense to have them trot along first, relieve themselves and then have the rest of the parade participants have to drive, walk, roll or dance through it.
2) When did floats evolve into some guy slapping a sticker on their pickup truck and calling it good? I know those rolling trailers plastered with streamers and decor are a lot of work to assemble, but it's Independence Day. Put a little effort into it, people.
So if anyone has an answer to those, I welcome your comment.
Okay, back to the joy of parades. A good parade will always have its mix of oddities. Take this example:
A droopy-armed Statue of Liberty? Okay, that's just funny.
And then there's always a parade entry bordering on ridiculous:
If this is what the tooth fairy actually looks like, I'd lie awake at night too. Only in sheer terror, not giddy expectation! This guy is hoping you'll bring your family to him so he can work on your teeth. Or help you in your next Lil' Miss Pageant, I'm not sure.
But eventually the festivities ripened (literally - the sanitation dept is the final participant, plodding along slowly as everyone deposits their wrappers, bottles and various trash.)
We make the long, hot trek back to our vehicle and crank the air conditioning to the point of hypothermia. Whew! Can't wait to go home and get started on preparations for our 4th of July party.
There are games to plan, condiments to cut and drinks to bury in ice. But what would a good party-prep day be without an injury? I wasn't sure at the time what I did to cause such excruciating pain on the top of my foot, but I hobbled through the party gathering more sympathy than necessary (I mean, really. I couldn't even remember how I hurt myself!).
It wasn't until I fell into bed after midnight that it dawned on me that when I was getting folding chairs out of the storage room, one of them slipped and fell on my foot. At the time, I was too much in a hurry to get things set up and didn't have time to nurse any wounds, so I kept going. And didn't give it another thought...until I nestled into my pillow to unwind from the day.
So we throw a big shin-dig. Lots of people come. We eat. We play crazy games. We have fun. All the while, I wince in pain.
At nightfall, our family packs up and heads to see the city's fireworks display. I find an open spot for my family of 5 to snuggle in and take in the sights and sounds...and the "freedoms" around us.
One being the family behind us. Enjoying sunflower seeds. As I leaned back into our blanket on my hands, their night included the freedom to spit those seeds at my arms. The sensation of someone's spit sunflower shell stuck to your arm is, well, pretty nasty.
I was more amazed at the continuation of it even after I attempted to voice my displeasure about it.
But that was the least of my concerns. Because not a single firework had exploded yet when suddenly I feel a very warm sensation running down my legs. My 3-year-old, sorta potty-trained son is on my lap.
When we had him use the bathroom prior to leaving for the fireworks, he didn't need to go. I knew I should have thrown a pull-up on him at the very least, but I was confident he would tell us if he needed to go. After all, he'd been doing so well the last couple of weeks! But it was late, the child had been running nonstop all day in the heat, and he was tuckered out. Getting to a bathroom was not on his radar one bit.
So I became a human toilet. It's a free country, after all.
Easily the most uncomfortable fireworks experience of my life. My son wasn't fazed a bit.
So the evening ends with me hobbling back to our vehicle on my bum foot, soaked with urine which is now catching the breeze and giving me a chill, longing for the moment I will be in my shower, letting suds wash away the layers of "freedoms" penetrating my skin.
Fortunately, today is a new day. I was able to get out of bed without wincing in pain - my foot felt fine and I even ran 4-1/2 miles to burn off that extra dessert I consumed last night.
Not bad. Parade sweat, sunblock, sticky candy residue, dust, spit, pee AND foot pain: gone.
I may just wave that flag of freedom now.