For the first time in probably 10 years, I had no plans for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. July 4th is my second favorite holiday, right behind New Years' Eve. While New Years' has always been symbolic of a "new beginning" to me, the Fourth of July has always stood as a reminder of my youth - carefree summers, friends, warm sun and summer romances. I'm a fairly patriotic person, love my country and all that, but July 4th has always meant more to me than celebrating our nation's Independence. What's more fun than a beach clambake or a BBQ? What is more romantic than kissing under a sky filled with fireworks?
I didn't realize I would be alone this holiday weekend until it was already too late to make new plans, although I tried. Through heavy sighs (maybe some tears too - don't judge me, I just told you how much I love this damned holiday) I resigned myself to celebrating Independence Day by myself in my own way. Perhaps I would try to re-create the July 4th of my youth. Or more likely, I would stay home, do laundry, move some furniture around, do some writing and hope for a last minute invitation somewhere. Most likely, I would crack open a bottle of something and feel sorry for myself.
I completed all of the chores on my list - I even moved a piano from the carpeted family room into the more formal living room. That was my shining accomplishment for the weekend. Really, it was. I watched some adult movies (no, not those you perverts. Movies that don't star Barbie or a talking creature.) I finally got to see Deadpool, for example. And while I enjoyed the movies (sort of) and a bottle of 2013 Reverie Cabernet Franc (definitely) my alone time wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I had a terrible case of FOMO ("fear of missing out" for those of you without access to Urban Dictionary).because I knew the rest of the world was enjoying fireworks, BBQ, family and friends while I sat home alone with a cat, wine and On-Demand. Clearly this was the universe punishing me for all of the terrible life choices I have made. Clearly, I would have to take action to fix this situation, because although the days are longer, hotter and sunnier now, New Years Eve is really only 6 months away and sitting home, alone is not going to be an option. Time to re-create.
Re-creating myself and my life was much easier at 18 or 28 because then, it was just me and really, my life was just beginning. First, I was in college so there was a ton of opportunity to find myself and I did. I found an amazing group of women in my sorority, Delta Gamma and that led me to student government and even my first professional position after graduation. At 28, I was a new lawyer. I found a great clerkship which led to the wonderful firm to which I remain affiliated 12 years later. So despite personal set backs during those periods in time, I had enough opportunity to eventually come out of my funk and create a life for myself.
But now, I have a child and a mortgage and an expensive taste in handbags. Re-creating myself requires a whole new procedure and protocol than it did years ago.
I should be more clear - re-creating myself does not mean that I become someone new. I tried that. It didn't work. Slowly, the real me began to creep out from behind the character I was attempting to portray and slowly, I realized I could not longer maintain this facade any longer - my soul was rotting from the inside, literally. I had all sorts of digestive issues brought on by the stress of trying to pretend I was someone that I most certainly am not. When I finally made the dangerous choice to cut it out and start acting like myself again, miraculously, the stomach problems went away. When I began to surround myself with the people who do not simply tolerate the real me, but accept the real me and in some ways understand me, life became a little easier (in some ways, anyway).
But because of all of these revelations, I'm now alone on major holidays. Depressing, but it is what it is. So how can I re-create? I just spent the week with my daughter at her national dance competition. This year it happened to be in Long Beach Island, NJ. Growing up, my family did not vacation at the NJ Shore so my only familiarity was through other friends and family as I got older. In fact, I even lived in Ocean County briefly while I was in law school and studying for my bar exam.
Based on our time this past week, I recognized one thing I can do is re-create summer vacation for us and I believe I found a nice beach. Having only been to LBI once while in college, I had no real memories there. Now I do. I have a great memory of Anna "summoning" the waves to crash on the shore as if she was conducting a magic spell. We had fun in the sand, pretending we were "real builders" responsible for a new magical castle for the princess. We even played "Master Chef" creating and judging various sandy dishes made in clam shells. The beach was beautiful, clean, uncrowded and the water was uncharacteristically clear. We even saw dolphins not far off the beach. I'm not a "beach vacation" person, although relaxing for a few days is not so bad. So I've already started planning for next summer. A few days on a beach. Check.
This re-creation is going to be a slow, piece-by-piece process. It's about creating and re-creating routines and letting go of what was. I am only now understanding the art of re-creating. .I have so many wonderful memories of the past ten years, and I will always remember them fondly, but now it's time to make new ones. I'll always be grateful for what I had, but now it is time to take stock of what I have.