Though I realize that by the time I actually finish writing this post most of you will be sufficiently mentally impaired from imbibing and eating too many hot dogs (the way I like to think our Founding Fathers wanted it to be), I thought it would still be worthwhile to reflect on Independence Day celebrations past, and celebrate what I think is wonderful about the U.S. – diversity and the generation of people who are open-minded and willing to support the ever growing and dynamic melting pot of cultures and lifestyles that makes America the land of the free. Though I can’t say I’ve always celebrated this day of Independence with grace and style, it’s always been an excellent mix of cultures and people from all walks of life.
2002 – I was a child of 19 years of age and in the U.S. so this would be the point where I stop recalling my Independence Day celebrations because they become rather bland.
2003 – Yes, the first year I experienced living abroad for an extended period of time. I was studying Italian for the summer semester in Florence, still one of the most beautiful cities in the world in my opinion and I believe I celebrated the holiday with my fellow American classmates. For some reason, us women decided it would be a spectacular idea to wear cheesy looking scarves printed with pictures of St. Peter’s Basilica fashioned as tube tops. I forget whether we allotted one or two bottles of wine per person, but it was definitely enough to result in a messy evening. I kept it classy of course by vomiting into the already filthy Arno river and then remember rolling around on the bathroom floor in my hotel for a few minutes for no particular reason. This was one of my more embarrassing moments representing the U.S. overseas, but at least it was all in the name of good fun.
2004 – This year I spent my summer studying and interning in San Jose, Costa Rica. I had high expectations for the day but ended up passing it rather uneventfully with my American ex-boyfriend. We had spotted a bar that had advertised an American celebration with hot dogs, but when we arrived had discovered an empty bar and a rather disappointing dog. We hightailed it to Escazu, the area of the city that was known to have lots of American expats and figured we would run into some kind of celebration there. Again, this was a failure. I think we may have gone to Tony Roma’s for their excellent ribs or hamburgers.
2005 – I don’t recall much of this year, but I’m sure I was home in Malta, NY getting ready to start a new chapter in my life – moving away from home to Michigan to start my first job after college. I imagine I was probably celebrating my own impending independence in the world of adulthood.
2006 – Another year I don’t remember much of, but I was living in Royal Oak, MI and most likely celebrating with my friends who were also without roots here, hailing from Chicago and Houston. My friend, Wanchay, who was the first to introduce me to the joys of Asian cuisine was most likely whipping up some spectacular dish from her native Laos, making a dent in that giant 40 pound bag of rice I remember seeing in the kitchen. There’s also some debate between me and Diana over whether or not I was watching the World Cup with her in a bar in Baltimore.
2007 – I went to Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, one of the least exotic beaches in all of the world, but the closest and most convenient beach to get to from where I was living at the time in Baltimore. I went with my ex-boyfriend and spent half of the day on the beach wrapped in a towel because it was rather chilly, and the other half being horrified by the spectacle of wasted food known as Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Surprisingly I still had an appetite and we stopped at a BBQ house on the way back to get ribs, a staple of the Independence Day food diet. Now I’m starting to notice a pattern with ex-boyfriends and eating ribs on Independence Day.
2008 – This was a period of extreme excitement for me. I was getting ready for my big move to Amsterdam, one of the most pivotal decisions in my life and I was spending time with my friend Martina in her native area of King George, VA. This was your usual spectacular boozy celebration of fireworks and deep-fried creamed corn.
2009 – I’ve thought about this for all of twenty minutes and came up with nothing. If anyone has any insights as to how I spent this year of independence from colonial rule, I’d be grateful if you reminded me – unless of course it was something embarrassing, then don’t tell me.
2010 – I was in the midst of my World Cup madness, which quite frankly ranks as one of my all-time favorite lifetime experiences. It was such an incredible mix of emotions and celebrations with friends from countries all over the world. I remember watching almost every game in a bar because there was always someone whose country was playing that day. Then of course, I remember the high running emotions that almost resulted in me ending a friendship with one of my Slovenian friends. And yes, the U.S. was completely robbed of their final goal and the score will always be 3-2 for me. But getting back to the actual celebration, this was one of my favorite years celebrating all that I think is brilliant about the U.S. – cultural diversity and hopefully someday, acceptance of such diversity. I was attending the wedding of my best friend, Diana, an American of El Salvadorian-Guatemalan descent, to a Bulgarian man. I also found it amusing that somehow her, our friend Claudia and myself were patriotically dressed as the American flag.
2011 – My most shameful year as an American, but my favorite from a global citizen standpoint. I was so hungover and destroyed from the festivities of Canada Day and some other random thing I was celebrating with friends in Amsterdam, that I had to take a break and sit this one out.
Now it’s 2012 and I’m again celebrating abroad, though in a more subdued manner this time reflecting on years past and giving thanks for the freedoms I have to explore the world in which I live.