Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Dear Story: Monday was your first participatory Fourth of July. I am all too aware that you will probably not remember this beautiful day so I wanted to write it all down to capture the memories.
We threw a picnic in the courtyard and invited all your playground friends. It was a sunny California day with a light breeze in the air. Shereen and Emann came over in the morning to help mommy cut out stars and sew them into a long chain to hang from the trees. Tal’s husband blew up thirty bright red and royal blue balloons and tied them together with a silver string to make a balloon chain. We covered the tables with blue and red tablecloths and covered the table with jam jars filled with red and blue straws, ribbons, American flags and silverware. The kids table had Fourth of July hats, leis and silver bowls full of fruit and candy.
Mommys friend Vanessa helped her spread blankets in the shade of the cherry blossom trees. Daddy put out our camping chairs to make a circle in the shade. Brian helped me fill the water guns and balloon bombs because daddy wanted no part of getting wet.
As the neighbors arrived, the tables filled with food. There was fresh coleslaw and homemade hummus, Doritos with corn salsa, warm chocolate chip cookies, watermelon, and fruit salad. Miles daddy started the grilling with ribs glazed in a cherry sauce. Shereen and Emann’s mom Hannan grilled a whole chicken. Tal’s husband made chicken and beef skewers and Mr. Matt grilled Argentinean skirt steaks. I threw our hot dogs, hamburgers, and ginger chicken into the line of marinating meat. Daddy says that every time he turned around you were eating something new.
You were dressed in a red, white and blue outfit from Nana and you held hands with Charlotte under the slide. You played with little Ms. Alma and Edan, Ori, Ido, Ronis, Cassidy and Miles, announcing each name with great clarity. “Alma,” you said, pointing at sweet Alma in her pretty pink bonnet.
“Did she just say Alma?” Alma’s mom asked daddy.
Ms. Heathers baby held hands with Ms. Vanessas baby and they squirmed together on a blanket in the shade. Mommy announced it was time for games and tied Roni and Shereen’s legs together with one of daddy’s socks. We did three legged races, wheelbarrow races, and water games. Hannan brought out buckets of water and sponges, daddy blew up the toddler pool and we tossed a few water balloons.
Then mommy brought out an angel food cake covered with Coolwhip and fresh strawberries from the Santa Monica market. We sang Happy Birthday America while the sun dipped in the sky and filled the courtyard with a golden glow. Story, you and Charlotte ate an entire bowl of hummus. You began with carefully dipping hummus chips, you ended with messy hands thrust into the bowl and then into your sticky mouths. You ate ribs and sausages and chicken, you sucked your first lollypop, you ate an entire bowl of strawberries, half a bowl of hummus, a piece of lasagna, three of Ms. Kate’s chocolate chip cookies, six Doritos and half a plate of curly red pasta.
When daddy put you in your swimsuit, you jumped in the frigid pool and started kicking and splashing and squealing. Daddy and “All y’all Mama’s” laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed, while you and the girls got in and out of the pool exchanging screams and throwing water onto the hot asphalt pavement.
As the dark ascended, we packed up the party, put on sweaters and met Judi, Chuck, Payton and Ella to walk over to the firework show. As we walked through the Culver City streets, the crowd began to swell. We formed a line and entered into a stadium pumping old school rock, the smell of Kettlecorn mixed with honeysuckle wafting in the evening breeze. Families in festive hats overflowed from beach blankets. You danced on the race track with Ella and Payton until sweat formed at the back of your neck. Between the sugar and the raucous laughter and dancing, I thought you would never sit still for the fireworks.
But then the music stopped and the lights dimmed and daddy lay down on the blanket and made a spot for mommy’s head on his chest under his arm and you laid your head down so sweetly next to mommy. You went completely quiet when the first shot rang out in the sky and you pressed your whole body against mine. We all lay on our backs looking up in the sky and you didn’t move once the entire show. I thought perhaps you had fallen asleep, but every time I poked my head up to look – your eyes were wide with amazement and wonder as you stare into a sky filled with exploding stars. Daddy squeezed me tight and I held you with all my strength, feeling your little heartbeat quicken as the show burst on. I tried to remember the first time I ever saw fireworks but it felt like so long ago.
We walked back in the crowd of happy neighbors and daddy and I let you fall asleep before we got home. I carried you into the house, your little limbs curled up against my chest, your head tucked under my chin. I buried my nose in your hair and you smelled like sunshine and sunscreen and strawberries and youth. I closed my eyes and tried to seal the smell in my cavern of memories. Perhaps you wont remember this perfect Fourth of July, but I will never forget.
Much love – Your mommy