Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile. 

Really this post is just a continuation of our Thursday post, because I’d like to write about my Fourth of July. For starters, I had the opportunity to spend several hours on the phone that day with Maggie and Jillian. We talked long enough that I heard Maggie’s elder daughter in the background saying, “Mommy, why are you talking to Mary Margaret for so long? That is tooooo long.” But, sorry Naomi, truthfully it was so nice to just talk and talk, without anywhere in particular that any of us needed to rush off to. This rarely happens in the busyness of life, yes?  I’m so grateful to the husbands, children, and tasks that wait patiently while we refill our spirits with a good triangle conversation.

In the afternoon I walked all the way down Ocean Parkway from my house to the Brighton Beach Boardwalk and met up with my friend Val. We talked and people-watched until the beach got dark and the fireworks began over at Coney Island. Were there tons of people around? Yes. Was it a nightmare getting back on the train at the end of the evening? Of course. But the event was smile-worthy for several reasons. Val’s company-always- but also because it unexpectedly made me feel great about what America is able to encompass.
On the boardwalk watching the fireworks was sort of an American ideal in a nutshell– meaning it managed to be a place that easily and quite beautifully held all the languages, cultures, and demographics that were around me. I could stand in one spot and hear Spanish, English, Russian, and languages I didn’t even recognize echoing around me. Val and I stood sandwiched between two Muslim families,the women dressed in brightly colored hijabs and festive clothes for the holiday. On the whole, actually, the fashions we witnessed were…epic. People of all ages, genders, cultures, and orientations surrounded us, and we watched together, cheering collectively at the end for the grand finale. It was like being in one of those heart-string-tugging commercials they tried desperately to make for the Super Bowl following the president’s travel ban, only this was authentic, unplanned, unaffected. And not everyone was drinking Coca-Cola. Sorry, Jillian.
It felt like America realized. American as an experience– and I was grateful to live where in this city and have the opportunity to dwell in a moment like that. As corny as it sounds, I love that we were all so different, but we stood together in our differences and enjoyed a simple pleasure like viewing some aesthetically pleasing controlled explosions in the sky over a large body of water. Yes, Americans are kind of weird, but I can love us for that too. I’m hard on my country, because I expect a lot of us, but moments like this emobdy for me an America worth loving and an America worth standing up for.