Feeling Red, White, and Blue

So Anne over at My Tiny Kingdom is hosting a blog carnival called Flashback Fridays, and today's theme is Feeling Red, White, and Blue. And since I loooooove blog carnivals, and not to mention am in desperate need of something to write about today, I am all over that like bird poo on a freshly washed car.

I'll be honest with ya'll, I wasn't really sure what all "Feeling Red, White, and Blue" would entail, so before writing this, I totally cheated and snuck a peek at what the other carnival-goers had posted that made them feel so patriotic.

Apparently, it is wearing bizarre, star-spangled outfits circa 1973. I kid you not.

Sadly, I was not around in the 70's, and while I have a cornucopia of pictures with unfortunate wardrobe choices, I couldn't come across any that were red, white, and blue. So instead, I'm offering up a fourth of July memory of my own, albeit without pictorial hilarity. You'll just have to use your imagination for my outfit:

We moved from Georgia to Tennessee the summer that I turned 10 years old. A move is about as life-altering as you can get for someone with only a decade under her belt, and I was sure that the whole thing was specifically orchestrated by my parents just to make me a social pariah. I mean, c'mon! Tennessee? Could there have been a less cool state to move to? (The answer, as I discovered much later in life, is yes, and that is Arkansas. Sorry Arkansans). Anyway, we had been in Tennessee about a month. It was July, it was hot, and we were living in an apartment while we had a house built on a wooded lot. And every day, Mom would drag us over to the lot to start clearing out weeds and underbrush in an effort to tame the wilderness into something that resembled a backyard. She called it family togetherness. I called it child slave labor.

So far, what I had seen of Tennessee had not been met with any particular approval. With school being out for the summer, it was hard to meet anyone my age, and I missed my friends from Georgia. I was also feeling less than benevolent towards my family, the uprooters of my tender social existence. So it really didn't matter to me what day it was when the sun finally started to sink towards the horizon and Mom packed up all of the garden supplies that she had hauled over. We were sweaty and dirty and exhausted, and I was wallowing in the kind of self-indulgent, mopey mood that only ten year old girl with no hope of future happiness EVER can generate. We were in the car on the way home when the first of the fireworks went off. It was so incredibly sudden, from darkness to exploding light right there in the sky in front of us, without warning. It seemed that our new town had an annual fireworks show to celebrate the Fourth of July, and we had just stumbled across it by accident.

There's something to be said for spontaneity. We were caked with dirt and sweat and fatigue, but here was an opportunity that couldn't be missed. There was a Little Caesar's pizza place right down the road, so we swung in to grab a few pizzas to go, and parked in a field on the side of the road to sit on the hood of the car and watch the show. The grass in the field was tall, and there were lightening bugs all over the place, providing their own light show in concert with the fireworks. It was all so simplistically pretty. I could have watched them all night. And then, somewhere between Sousa's march playing from someone's radio in the distance, and fireworks exploding in brilliant pyrotechnic colors overhead, and the cool metal of the car hood beneath me, and the taste of extra cheesy pepperoni pizza, I forgot to be mad. I forgot, for a moment, to be the lonely, sullen girl who had lost life as she knew it. I had pizza, I had my family, and I had fireworks. Perhaps stupid Tennessee wasn't the veritable wasteland that I had first imagined it to be.

That particular night wasn't so much about patriotism for me, or even about trusting in the future in an unknown place. It didn't even make it easier to make new friends and fit in, like a cheesy Hallmark card ending. It was just about finding an unexpected joy somewhere. A gift. A simple gladness that popped up out of nowhere and lit up the night sky for a second.

That is how I feel red, white, and blue.


anneglamore said...

Awesome! And thanks for dissing Arkansas, not Alabama! Heh.

Pam at Antique or Not said...

Wow, great story! It felt like I was there...

Tater Mama said...

I loved this post! I wandered over to your blog from Anne's carnival, and I will definitely be back! I'm adding you to my google reader...for a couple of reasons: (a) I love they way you write, and (b) We Tennessee blogging gals have to stick together, even if we're on opposite ends of the state!

Glad to have met you!

tootie said...

You are such a good storyteller!

Anonymous said...

I had no idea you felt that way about any of that. Sniff.

Fourth of July was pretty special after that, wasn't it?! One of our better traditions, huh?

Quirky Mom