July 6, 2011

Independence Day

Fourth of July Parade in Flagstaff
The Fourth of July was never one of my favorite holidays. I have a hard time enjoying myself with the startling pop-pop-pops and deafening bangs of fireworks, the hot and buggy outdoor eating, and the constant playing of that “Proud to be an American” song. I had not factored the Fourth of July into my moving plans, although the beginning of July did mark my living in Lincoln for one year. I reasoned that there would be good sales for the holiday, and that perhaps I could get away with ignoring the parts of the Fourth that I don't like for one year.

I could have easily avoided all festivities in Flagstaff, citing a lack of information about goings-on, or lack of friends, or even lack of interest, but all of those make me seem like an unpatriotic recluse. I think I'm more of an “Introspectively proud American who happens to enjoy some alone time,” but whatever the title, I didn't move to Flagstaff to stay cooped up in my apartment the whole time.

Hike and bike Trail in my neighborhood
I went to the Independence Day parade in historic downtown Flagstaff this morning. As my boyfriend pointed out, “Independence Day” symbolizes more for me this year. Indeed, my moving to Arizona signifies a new and more adult phase of my life in which I make the decisions and I finance them. In an effort to save gas (and to kill some time), I walked for an hour to get to the parade. But before you feel sorry for me, remember that I'm in “Flag,” as the locals call it, and this place is set up for hikers and bikers. My walk began in my residential neighborhood, then faded into a long, gravel trail along a winding street. After crossing onto a bigger thoroughfare, my forest trail was asphalt paved until it turned once more into a wide sidewalk. During the entire trip, I had at least a sidewalk, if not a trail through stunning pine scenery.

Once I came nearer to downtown, I started to follow the Teva sandal-wearing, iced-coffee drinking masses to the parade route. With the other 80,000 people of Flagstaff, I assumed my position along Aspen Street to wait for the parade to begin. I have not been to any Fourth of July parades since I became too old to scramble for the candy, and so I wasn't really sure what adults do at these things. One of the first floats handed out small flags to wave, which helped my nervous ticks look more patriotic than anxious. I saw everything from the expected veterans, ponies and marching bands; to the more niche Native American dancing, Bikram Yoga Instructors, and the antique tractors of Northern Arizona. My favorite parts of the parade were the former Peace Corps members (one who served in Afghanistan in the 1960's), and the veterans from Vietnam and WWII. Although I rarely talk about it, I admire people who sacrifice so much for this country and I always get a little choked up when I recognize their service (required patriotic moment).

After the parade, I wandered over to the Arts in the Park festival I had seen on my laundromat misadventure. I made a beeline to the Italian ice vendor for something cool and sugary. Then I browsed the vendors' wares. Lots of metal cacti, blown glass, and tie-dye apparel were being sold to the tourists and locals who had planned their morning with roughly the same schedule as mine. No one was selling cheap second-hand furniture, so I decided that I had better wait until I had a table for the sculpture to sit on before investing.

Although proud of myself for attending two events that I would never think of going to solo in my hometown, I wished I had been more outgoing and struck up some conversations. “Wow, great hiking boots! I bet those are great for...everyday use!” or “How long have you been growing your hair...that way?” or even, “Hey, where did you get that iced coffee?” Wanting desperately to fit in, but not to stick around any longer, I bought an iced coffee for the way home. I will make friends later. Happy Independence Day.