Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

Independence Day

In an unusual move, Costco had some fresh fruit items set out near the store entrance, right across from the electronics, in advance of the July 4th holiday. The cherries–a dark, copious Hollywood blood red–looked delicious but it’s ingrained in me that cherries are too expensive to be a casual snack. The peaches were a beautiful color but hard as boulders to the touch.

I picked up one of the watermelons as it had a nice broad patch of white on the underside, a sign of sweetness. The nectarines were relatively firm but with a deeper caress I felt the flesh give way, my fingers leaving small indentations. Perfect. As I made my way further inside my favorite food brothel, I picked up some grapes and hunks of meat, eating and drinking my way through the samples. Only in America.

The US is the only place I’d like to live, probably, although with enough money I could live like an American anywhere. But I can’t say I actually celebrate Independence Day. Back in July 4, 1776, my ancestors were anything but independent. In 2010, there still are plenty of “freedoms” that only look good on paper, but at the very least, I appreciate the day off and the sales on cookout food and accoutrements.

So we cooked out, my husband and I, at one of the many county parks with public grills, just the two of us. We set up our camp with the ease of mature hipsters who had done this sort of thing a million times before. While others in the park were dousing their fires that were climbing out of control to the heavens, or stamping out the flames of coals that had spilled out of the grill and fallen to the ground, our burgers and hot dogs were serenely cooking, dripping grease through the holes we made in the aluminum foil.

We talked, people watched, played cards. When my husband wasn’t looking, I blinked out for about 20 minutes and completely disappeared into the notebook I brought to work on my poetry. I forgot where I was and my husband brought me back as I was gone too long away from him. A small lapse: At least I didn’t bring my laptop. My news-junkie husband brought the Sunday paper but didn’t read it. Neither of us wore watches, although we each checked our cells phones once apiece. I sent a short text to my daughter.

After a long, relaxing afternoon we started to pack up. There were people next to us who were just starting, and judging from the number of hot dog roll  packages they were setting out, it seems they were expecting a sizable crowd. Before I knew it, a young women from their party came up to me pointing desperately at my cooking utensils. “Please, can I have your tongs? I was going to buy some but I ran out of time. I’ll give you five dollars for them.”

I was surprised that she had noticed them and I had not known she was watching me. She was good. The tongs, though sturdy and attractive with the wooden handles, were bought some years ago at the dollar store. These thoughts crossed my mind as I pocketed the dough. She thanked me profusely and wished God’s blessing on me, which I need. Priceless.

When we got in the car, I checked my phone a second time. My daughter hadn’t texted me back yet.

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2010.

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Comments on: "Independence Day" (17)

  1. I spent the day meeting Brent’s family…and watching him in his “natural habitat” so to speak. Personally, I think that is the only good thing about holidays. We generally are “forced” to take some time out from the day to day grind of Sleep, eat, work, eat, TV, sleep and remind ourselves we are living…and people around us like to see us and spend time with us. Thanks for sharing your time in that mode! Love ya!

    • Sounds like you had a fun time (you and Brent make a beautiful couple, btw). It is nice to step outside of our everyday concerns once in a while, enjoy the people around us, and remember the things that matter.

  2. Sounds like a lovely day.

    I don’t think I could live anywhere else but Britain. If only because my family is here.

  3. Nice day – hope this year is the same.

    • Ah, I have to opportunity to answer this on July 5th–No husband this year having since separated, but still plenty of fruit to be had. I spent a lot of quality time with my daughter. I wanted to do more writing than I did, but I think I needed the down time. All in all, a great holiday this year. Thanks, Thom!

  4. You always make the most ordinary days seem special and see so much that most of us would not. I think you are very insightful of people.

  5. Happy 4th of July! France’s national day is 14th of July. We sometimes have a party, but most of the time it’s a quiet day.

  6. penniej2 said:

    What a great way to recognize the bounty of wonderful fruits and goods that this country has to offer. Also, thanks to the toil and suffering of our ancestors who, many of them, had to endure incredible hardships. The 4th of July is a fun holiday – picnics, hot dogs, fireworks, etc. and a reason for partying in a way those ancestors might have marveled at. Why not take a minute to recall those ancestors who made this possible, many of whom, as you mention, were not independent, and what they went through to provide this 4th of July celebration?

    • Thanks for this comment, Penelope. It continues to be a complicated situation, even considering the plight of many of us in this day and age. The American ideal is still worth striving for, and part of the ideal is speaking out against injustice.

  7. Those are good observations stemming from your Costco trip….very true! Only in America can you munch your way through shopping. I’m not exactly sure it’s good (given the obesity epidemic going on) but it sure makes shopping ‘fun’, hehehehe…… Anyway, happy 4th of July to you and the family!

  8. Hey Adriene –

    You are blessed Sweepy. Look at your words above..read them. I hear blessings galore. Happy Firecracker Day :).

  9. What gentle and quiet musings of the everyday on your 4th July shared with a special someone. How lovely Adriene. We dont celebrate the day here and as you say for you its but an opportunity to visit the food brothel and have the day off….you have turned it into so much more

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