July 5, 2010

To Be Free

We sat on blankets & throws, and wrapped ourselves in the warmth of a quilt made out of stars. They held us. Comforted us. Pulled us in a little closer. We stared out silently at a horizon set on fire. Burning with its own brilliance, smoldering in nostalgia. Crashes of crimson and cobalt lit up the night sky and warmed our faces, as a cool breeze off the water echoed in their crescendo. Nearby a regiment of neighborhood kids scattered in every direction, as one lone soldier stayed behind to count off the cadence to a game of hide and seek. And just like that, I remembered what it was like to be free. I pressed my back against the earth as the sun-scorched grass scratched at the back of my legs. And I stared up at the friends who surrounded me, each of them outlined against an indigo sky. Highlighted by a memory I never want to forget.

I write because I never want to forget.

We ate Libby’s pastries and licked the chocolate from our fingertips. And we gave salute to a day that was so full. Full of the simple things. And the things that really matter. Like sugar cones and freedom toast and badminton and barbecue. Like hammock swings and front porch steps and watching the sun go down. Like helping a total stranger and being among real friends. Of remembering what it’s like to be little. To run beneath the light of a fire-worked sky, and to feel for just that moment that everything in the world has slowed down. To give honor to the time that you wish could just stand still. In the place where pomp meets pageantry, at the intersection of today, tomorrow and tradition. Because for me, I want to live in that moment forever.

See, I had planned to throw a big party. I had planned to get lost in the details. I had planned to turn real life into work. But life, as it sometimes does, had its own plans.

And in doing so, it showed me what it really means to be free.

*** We also want to announce the winner of our Bye Bye Birdie contest! As soon as we saw Justin’s Dad yesterday he knew exactly who he thought it should be. And we couldn’t agree more, so we let him pick! A big congrats to Miss Caitlin Scott for the entry below! :) Caitlin, just shoot us an email with your addy & we’ll get you all set up!

CAITLIN: In honor of the holiday weekend and the armed forces, my huge Irish family is having a family reunion. But a family reunion isn’t something small in our family. I’m the oldest and smallest of 21 grand children ranging in ages from 8 to 26. That being said, we represent the Marines, Army, Navy and Coast Guard. Whether its a cousin, uncle or grand father, they all serve/d. So we’re all coming together from various states around the US to have a BLOWOUT 4th of July reunion. Long Beach Island, NJ won’t know what hit it! (Even though i’d hardly call it a reunion, because we all make an effort to see each other as much as possible.) This year is different. We’re sending one of my cousins and best friends off with the USMC to Afghanistan. Just 23 years old – he’s going out to serve for all of us. He’s got the most courage and determination that I’ve ever seen from a guy headed into war. (And I’ve seen it a few times in my life.) So that being said, I’ll spend my weekend probably singing the USMC fight song and fighting my cousins for a beer on the back patio. (I don’t stand a chance as the oldest yet shortest!) Happy 4th of July J&M and J2. Enjoy it!!!

  1. Mary Dunlap

    Caitlin, I come from a HUGE IRISH family as well, and my Aunt and Uncle live on LBI all year round now! How funny! Beautiful entry and well deserved.

  2. Ray

    Congrats to the winner. She deserved it. And another beautiful entry, Mary. Sometimes it is nice to stay in the moment and try with all your might to never forget it.

  3. Caitlin

    J&M and J2 I can’t thank you guys enough! I couldn’t be more excited. This badminton set is truly the icing on the cake for this weekend! Because are you ready for this – my cousin Tim who is leaving for Afghanistan proposed to his girlfriend on Saturday morning. It was a fairytale proposal (picturesque row boat in the Barnegat Bay of LBI). So not only did we have an amazing 4th of July weekend, but an amazing CELEBRATION weekend. I couldn’t be happier for the two of them! So this amazing badminton set truly is the icing on a wonderful and complete weekend!! You guys are awesome!

  4. maggieb

    …there is nothing like a night sky to put things in their proper perspective…and how blessed are we to enjoy that night sky from the solid ground of this glorious nation…

  5. joan solitario

    beautiful post :) and i’m glad everything worked out the way it did for you both!

  6. Amy Clifton

    "I write because I never want to forget." I love this line. So true.

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