Happy almost 4th of July! I love the 4th of July! This is mostly because I really REALLY love fireworks. Today I thought I would share 4 of my favorite (awkward) memories associated with the holiday. Be prepared for lots of terrible low quality photos!! I even had to search myspace for some of these!!
1. Once when I was a teenager, I went to watch the fireworks around Lake Desoto in downtown Lake City with my friend MeLissa and her family. Maybe some other friends were with us as well? I don’t know. We’re going back 16ish year at this point. I remember walking back to her parent’s van (the Great White) and MeLissa and I having a (too) loud conversation about a terrible burning smell that was soooooo bad. Her mom kept trying to hush us, but we just got louder. “Ugh, is someone burning trash. What is wrong with these people? I’m disgusted!!!!” When we got back to the van MeLissa’s mom told us we were smelling weed. I don’t know why my brain chooses to remember that moment, but it always makes me laugh. We were so sweet and innocent.
2. In 2007 I was in Jackson, MS working at M-Fuge, a Christian summer camp. The week of 4th of July was truly the hardest of the summer. During the summer of 2007 I would take my campers to serve at a church called Crestwood in downtown Jackson that had a children’s summer program. I loved everything about Crestwood. For some reason, on this particular week, Crestwood wasn’t holding the summer program and I was left taking my group to a different site. It was arranged for me and my group to go to a VERY run-down-majorly-sketchy trailer park called Shady Lake. Shady Creek? Shady Grove? Shady Park? Idk. This was a new place, the children we were serving were outrageous in a eat-dirt-don’t-wear-shoes-murdery-vibe-type-way, and I just felt like I had no idea what I was doing. Crestwood was familiar, friendly, and I had a routine. Shady Creek was the exact opposite. But do you know what? I had the absolute best campers and adults that week. Some of the best I had in all 3 years of working for Fuge. They participated, they loved on the dirty murder-y children, they encouraged me. I think 4th of July fell on a Wednesday or Thursday that year, and since we were in the middle of doing camp we weren’t able to have a big celebration. Our leadership surprised us with a night time picnic at a nearby park with Chick Fil-A sandwiches, watermelon, and sparklers. I remember cry-laughing with some of my fellow staffers because the crazy week was almost over and we were so thankful to be eating Chick Fil-A in the rain on the 4th of July.
(dirty apartment mirror + Ray without a beard)
3. For 6 or 7 years before Ray and I were married, Ray lived in an apartment on the aforementioned Lake Desoto. He lived in the exact perfect spot for firework viewing. He would generally have a cookout and invite people over for the festivities. One year, as the fireworks were starting, a neighbor (probably high on ecstasy) plugged in his guitar and started playing the star spangled banner on the balcony directly above Ray’s apartment. It was hilarious for a moment, but fireworks generally last for 15-20 minutes. At the risk of sounding incredibly unpatriotic, I will say that the Star Spangled Banner is not one of my favorite songs. It’s also not a long song. So, you can imagine my disdain when high neighbor played it over and over and over again for the entire duration of the firework display. (I did not have photo documentation of this memory, so I made a comic strip)
4. And finally, my most favorite/awkward 4th of July memory. The summer I was 15, my 3 best friends (Lauren, MeLissa, Patricia) and I spent weeks painting and firing weird-o ceramic figurines to sell at Cornerstone Music Festival in Illinois. We were working with a lady from our church who had done festivals and craft shows previously. She rented an RV and the 5 of us made our way to Illinois. After about a day my friends and I knew something weird was going on. The lady we were with seemed erratic, and maybe like she was going crazy. I remember using a calling card (lol) and payphone to call my parents and tell them everything that was going on. The next morning we woke up because crazy lady started DRIVING THE RV AWAY claiming she needed propane. When she went inside a store, the 4 of us put all our money together (like, counting change) to see if we had enough to buy bus tickets home. So, we packed all of our things in garbage bags and she dropped us off at a bus stop with 5 or 6 just-released inmates. On that horrible, smelly ride home we made friends with a newly pregnant girl who smoked black & milds, learned how to make crystal meth using a spoon (I can’t make this up), made enemies with a man sitting in front of us, and listened to a lot of Avril Lavigne. It took over 24 hours to get from Illinois to Florida on that bus and at midnight on the 4th of July we watched fireworks from a bridge in Kentucky.
So, what are some of your favorite 4th of July memories? Hopefully they aren’t as weird as mine!