"Walk By Faith, Not By Sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7
As many of you know, this past Friday, July 4th, was a day of celebrations for many Americans. It marked the independence of our country. The celebrations included beach trips, barbecues, picnics, fireworks, patriotic music and more. Though most celebrate this day every year it comes around, this day took form of nostalgia for me this year.
The day began by taking my boyfriend to the airport and then meeting with some friends to travel to the beach for some sunshine, booze, and a good time (did I mention beer also is a dominant factor in these types of celebrations around America?). The car ride was assisted by patriotic music, I suppose, including “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood. This began the day of leftovers, if you will. As the song played, I chuckled to myself, and decided to share with the carpool what memories this song held for me, memories that have been long locked away. When I was in fourth grade, there was a fourth grade teacher named Mr. Schultz at my elementary school that wanted to recognize students in his grade level for the academic excellence. He would glue mason jar tops together and paste a decorated piece of paper on it, naming the award. The two mason jar tops would sandwich a green ribbon that would allow the recipients to display their award around their neck proudly. The only thing was that no one wanted the awards! Now, that sounds rude, but it wasn’t what the award was or stood for. It had to do with the ceremony itself. First off, we would have to sing along to Mr. Greenwood’s song, and stand up at the last repeat of the chorus that states, “And I proudly stand up next to you, and defend her still today…” Even to a fourth grader, that’s corny. But, the worst part was Mr. Schultz. Though that was his official name, that is not what us kids called him. He was coined the term Mr. Pick and Save instead. He was notorious (at least to us fourth graders) for picking his nose, and sticking it under his desk like a piece of gum to save for later. It was disgusting. And, when we were to receive our awards at the ceremony, we would have to shake his gross, booger contaminated hand. I’m sure that he wasn’t really a nose-picker, but who knows. Nobody thought otherwise. Anyway, my friends thought the story was hilarious, and it brought back a wave of American Day memories for me. Side note: I texted my brother, who had also had to deal with Mr. Pick and Save about it. This was the conversation:
Me: I just told my friends about Mr. Pick and Save. They thought it was the funniest story they have ever heard! haha
Steve: haha I was just singing that song!
It’s the song, people. No more explanation needed.
At the end of the story, we finally arrived to the beach. The water was luke warm and the sun was beating down hot rays (I got a sunburn despite the tanning lotion I applied. Oops!). The day was like any other day at the beach for me; good times with friends, laughter, stuffing ourselves with food that may or may not be good for us. Aside from the “Murica” term being placed within practically every sentence, it was just another normal day for me. However, the night would be different as my friends and I would pile in a car to carpool to the park for a firework show.
The fireworks were beautiful, and the company was great, but as I lay down on the blanket,
I felt like I had never been more alone. My mind wandered back to precious memories that haven’t been touched in a long time, to the days I spent watching fireworks with my family in Salt Lake City, Utah. When I was really little, we would travel to Sugar House Park for their spectacular firework show. But, as the years passed, and some health issues were discovered within the family, we traveled to Cottonwood Park, located in the foothills containing the city. We stopped by KFC, as tradition called, my mom made this delicious Cheerio snack that contained peanuts and raisins (it’s been impossible to find the recipe since we moved across the country), and we headed out to the park that gave us the best view in town. Us kids were able to play on the playground, and run around without a crowd there. There was literally no one there each year, as the crowds were drawn to main events, like
the one at Sugar House. No one knew our secret. We could see EVERY firework show in the valley from Cottonwood Park, without the noise, or too many flashing lights. We would see up to 12, sometimes more, shows going on, while also taking in the beauty of the city below. What make these memories to special to me, though, is the fact that they were spent with my entire family. Jodie, before she moved out, we still lived in Utah, so the rest of my siblings were there, and my parents were still together, meaning that my dad was there. It was one family experience that everyone enjoyed equally.
Once we moved to Florida, our family was split across the nation, Jodie remaining in Utah, as well as my dad. We did enjoy some fireworks in town while in Florida, and created some new memories, but as we aged, and became teens, it lost it’s thrill. We stopped going to the shows. The celebration died down for us. The nights were spent like any other. Sometimes, we would go to a movie instead, but we would return home after. There is nothing wrong with that. I am not complaining, things just changed.
Lying on the grass last Friday with my friends brought back a wave of memories that were stored away with Cottonwood Park. They cuddled up and enjoyed the fireworks, and yet, I felt sad, alone, lost. No one to cuddle with (remember, Josh was out-of-town. I don’t blame him or anything). But, more importantly than friends, was the family that wasn’t there. I lay on the blanket alone, soaring back to happier times. It wasn’t the same.
Cottonwood Park was a rarely visited park, much like it’s memory is. However, the park is preserved under Utah’s government, and the memories will forever be preserved in my heart.