4th Of July Sparks New Perspective

I knew this Fourth of July was going to be different. I just didn’t know how different. And it isn’t because I am suddenly going to be a patriot. Leave that to the American Revolutionists who fought to transform their lives by seeking independence from Great Britain in 1776.

Today, at best, I could look like a flag, fight traffic, then scrounge for parking to watch fireworks, or join the throngs of barbecuing beach-goers.

The day begins early for me, with cell phone texts from friends reminding me that barbecues are in full swing across the island. My young adult daughter happens to be visiting, and while she’s still sleeping I bake a cake for a potluck at the beach. After all, how is a vivacious young woman going to make new acquaintances unless I take her to these shindigs? But I haven’t had breakfast yet, and the cake looks tempting. How am I going to steal a slice without anyone noticing? I admit that was my first thought. But, really, the overwhelming feeling was that I just wanted to spend a quiet day with my daughter.

After she gets up, we discuss plans for the day, and she flows with my drift. She is half me, and suggests that we go out to dinner instead because, of course, I’m paying. Following the usual reiteration of restaurants, I default to suggest making a special home-cooked meal. How about some crab legs? She loves that! We’ll have it with tossed salad, pre-made apple-cider dressing and jasmine rice. But she is only half me, and the menu is too sparse when comparing it to the cornucopia on which everyone else would be feasting today. By the time we are done imagining a meal to thoroughly suit both our palates, the grocery list grows from just crab and salad to include corn-onthe-cob, tomatoes, zucchinis, onions, sweet potatoes, and even Redondo’s wieners, for what is a Fourth of July without grilling some hot dogs?

And, oh, how nice — I don’t even own a grill!

First stop, then, is the home of the helpful hardware man to buy a Weber grill. Then it’s on to Safeway for the crab and dogs and Foodland for the veggies. After shopping, we finally make it past the Safeway traffic jam and arrive home at dusk hungry, only to realize that of course, the grill still needs to be assembled! Oh, my, what did I get myself into this time? I barely find a Philips screwdriver, search for my readers, squat on the floor, rustle haphazardly through the instructions and mumble to myself that it’s going to be a very long night.

But it’s only a long night if I forget why I am doing this. My beloved daughter is here with me tonight! I instantly stop wallowing, for it is my choice to have a nice time with her and so it shall be! With renewed enthusiasm, I pick up my pace with a smile and a light heart. Assembling the grill becomes an intriguing puzzle, finding the charcoal and lighter fluid under the house becomes an Easter egg hunt, cutting the veggies is like playing mom in a Barbie kitchen, Googling a crab recipe and preparing it becomes an illuminating endeavor for my daughter, and the grilling experience elicits fond memories of days past.

Step by step, the meal comes together, and sooner than later we are dining on a mouth-watering spread fit for a king. Likewise, we band together seamlessly to clean up, and before long everything is put away, including an abundance of leftovers.

On this auspicious day, I don’t wear red, white and blue, watch a single flower explode in the sky, or unite with friends at a potluck. But I do fight to transform my life in a tiny way, by liberating myself from thinking what life shouldn’t be to what it can be.