Independence Day---Not Featuring Will Smith.

by - 6:00 PM

   You know, there's something about red. My mom always says that either you're a red car person or you're not. My car is actually blue, but I am definitely a red car person. Those shiny candy apple colored things always catch my eye and I linger over those with a more shimmery shade, wishing I could put that color on my lips by osmosis. I would absolutely, without a second though, if only it were possible.

I guess it's not just cars though. Red applies to so many things. Don't even get me started on the symbolism of red. I could go on for days. But let us momentarily ponder all the best things that are red.

Strawberries and red Solo cups. Red velvet cupcakes and the prettiest shades of lipstick. Rubies and if you ever catch that son-of-gun, Waldo's t-shirt. Bright summer cherries, roses, and Dorothy's shoes.  Apples, raspberries and hearts. Grab a classic bottle of coke. I'm talking the glass bottle with all the sugar and real flavor. That label, that thing that is so very American, is red.

 The blood that courses through my veins, keeps me living and reminds me of my very human vulnerability is red.

You know, if words were colors, I think freedom would be red. That color that waves so proudly is undeniably the color of liberty. The fact that I get the privilege to be bombarded by political advertisements every time I turn on my computer or television or radio is just---wow. These people, these regular human beings are asking me please vote for me. You have the power to choose and please choose me. This is a privilege denied to so many and on the day that we celebrate our independence, I am so entirely grateful.

I love that red is so vibrant, so look at me! I love that red is so symbolic in many cultures. I might sound a little like one of my former English professors when I suggest as much, but you know what...if I'm good at anything, it's being a girl called Jenn. A girl who likes words and double entendres and songs for their lyrics. Freedom does that. Freedom makes that possible. I get to be that girl.

I guess you had to know where I was going with this. Independence day is just around the corner---or perhaps more accurately, just on the other day of midnight.

The fourth of July is one of the better holidays, in my opinion. There isn't the gift purchasing/wrapping stress of Christmas and there's none of the "I should so be in church right now" guilt of Easter. There is only one expectation: fun.

When I was a kid, the fourth meant one thing: Sand Lake Carnival. Gosh, it was the highlight of my summer. I'd carefully dress, wanting the perfect combination of comfy, patriotic and least likely to somehow get snagged in the mechanics of the tilt-a-whirl. I'd long been warned about the grim reaper waiting for me behind every carnival ride. I might have even peeked in the cart before settling into the ferris wheel, just to make sure there were no unwanted hooded visitors.

Back then, Independence Day meant cheap rides for not cheap prices, cotton candy and bright red popsicles.

It meant fireworks.

So after the carnival came the parade and then we went home and waited for dark. This may be the only day of the year that kids look forward to the night. Around 8 or 9, I'd watch my dad lug a cooler to the trunk of the car and Mom would appear, waving bug spray with precise aim.

"Under your armpits, too. Jennifer! Did you get under your armpits?"
Eye roll. Head shake. My Mom's crazy smirk.
"Fine, if you want malaria, that's  your business, but don't don't come crying to me when your temperature is a-hundred-and-forty and your skin turns yellow."

Fireworks. Oh the joy of lighting something on fire and waiting for it to explode in the sky. I'd clap so hard my palms would hurt the next day. The whole thing excited me, but the entire time I was waiting for that finale. You know exactly what I mean. I could describe it, but would it paint a better picture in your head? I think not.
The gold ones were always my favorite.

My relationship with sparklers has always been slightly more...rocky. I remember pristinely the year my sister Catherine burned her fingers to a toasty black crisp. I've never felt very secure with them since. Memories really do last a lifetime.

It meant red, white, and blue.

If red is the color of freedom and freedom is the entire reason my life is so happy, then it's only natural that red is the color of happy. And if red is the color of happy then I'm about to positively swath myself in it. I broke out the red lipstick earlier in the week and I painted my finger nails a cheerful shade of scarlet. Tomorrow I will celebrate all the things that make me proud to be American by donning red and lots of it.

This year, it means reconnecting with my family. It means grinning like kids as we remember the fourths of our past. It means holding each other's hands as the sky lights up and sparkles while children squeal with delight.

It means making new memories.

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