This day means so many things. Because of the meaning of this day to all Americans, I have many many memories. Most of them good. Some exceptionally good.
As a child, I remember waking up early to eat a hearty American breakfast at a park in Magna. The Magna Lions Club provided the pancake breakfast. Then we headed over to Main Street and found a place to watch the parade. Usually my dad found a spot to pull his truck into. We watched from the back of the truck.
The day ended with us at the park again. We put blankets down somewhere in the middle of the large community of people. Small kids ran around in their pajamas holding sparklers. Eventually the firework show would start and we would enjoy the bursts of color popping across the sky. It’s amazing how when I was a kid there were no bugs.
As a teenager, the fourth of July still began early. My grandparents were up even earlier to help set up at the church and start cooking Dutch oven potatoes. The all-American pancake breakfast always started with a flag ceremony. People ate and visited for over an hour then slowly found their way inside for a special program. Your typical patriotic church talent show. The party then moved back outside for a parade of decorated bikes and wagons around the church parking lot followed by a water fight.
The day always ended at my grandparents’ house. Barbecue, games, and an impressive firework show in the driveway put on by my brother and cousins’ pyrotechnics.
Ten years ago the firework show was spectacular. Though none of it could be seen. It was all felt in the heart. Ten years ago I fell in love without realizing it.
It started in June when I met Heath at my grandparents’ house just hours after he had crossed the Utah border. July 2, was technically our first date. We went to church together. There is nothing like showing up at a singe’s ward with a tall, handsome drink of water by your side! July 3, was our official first date.
The next day, July 4, we fell in love.
Heath was at the church helping with the ward breakfast. I remember people whispering out loud, “What is Heath doing here?” “He moved back. He’s living with Jay and Lisa.”
After all that awkwardness, my family headed out to Midway to swim. This was a tradition I should have mentioned earlier. I ended up going with Heath in his car. Just the two of us. An hour up and an hour back. Just the two of us. There was a lot of dead silence. Not very romantic but it’s true.
Something happened at the pool. Smoldering sparks between us like sparklers spelling out words that were neon and bright for a few seconds but quickly faded away. We got home and despite finding virtually nothing to talk about in the car, we couldn’t keep away from each other. We washed our cars together in my mom’s driveway. Good old fashioned flirting.
Fizzle fizzle at the family barbecue. The sun set and the little cousins ran out to the driveway excited for the show. Nobody, including me or Heath, realized we would be the show. Sitting close together, holding hands, unmistakable sparks shooting off of us. My aunt pointed at us and said to my mom, “When did this happen?” My mom’s reply, “Just now.”
Three years later, on July 4, 2003, we were watching another pyrotechnic display of fireworks in my grandparents’ driveway, oblivious to the changes going on in me. The next day Gavin was born! Seven years later we sat in our front yard shooting balloons up into our tree.
Independence Day means different things to different people. I am truly grateful to be an American. I realize what I have and I will always be grateful to those who sacrificed to make this country what it is. I just can’t help but remember the day I fell in love with my eternal best friend. The day I declared my independence from my mother’s basement! Just kidding! My room was across the hall from hers. Not in the basement. Independence is independence no matter how you look at it!