Birthday Weekend 2006

On the 4th of July, I found myself standing by the side of the road (under an umbrella) watching two sets of fireworks go off, one to my right and one to my left. The car stereo was cranked up, patriotic music was playing, and, oh yeah, the two guys I was standing with had patriotic bandanas draped on their shoulders. For whatever reason, people driving by were looking at us kind of strangely. Go figure.

And that probably wasn’t even the weirdest thing that happened this weekend. After all, the setting off of fireworks is enough to make an entire city come to a screeching halt. We weren’t the only car parked by the side of the road, even if we were the only car on that particular road. One of the things I love about the 4th of July is the relentless pursuit of fireworks. People angling for the best spots, people camping out for hours beforehand. Why do people (except Dawn) love fireworks? Why do we drop everything to watch them?

Fireworks make me feel like a kid again, like the last day of school before summer break. Like catching fireflies by the trees at the edge of our yard. Like homemade ice cream at my grandparents’ house. Like I do on my birthday, which is one of the reasons that fireworks and I have such a great relationship. In middle school and high school, we stopped going to see the fireworks quite as much, but I am glad Mike has helped restore the tradition of cheesy music, patriotism, and angling for the best possible view.

You don’t care about any of that, though, do you? You just want to know what could possibly be more strange than standing by the side of the road blaring “America” by Neil Diamond while people drive by giving you pitying looks. There are a few candidates:

It could have been when my shirtless next-door neighbor offered to let me, Adriene, Andrea, and Alisa (Kari and the Three A’s) get in his hot-tub. We declined. Actually, I declined for everyone else, finished playing with sparklers, and told the other three when we got inside. Much squealing ensued. Which was exactly why I didn’t tell them when we were outside. Sure, we can mock him, but we have to do it in the safety of my four walls.

Perhaps it was the real fireworks that people in our neighborhood were continually setting off all weekend long, much to the chagrin of whoever lived next door to them (or so I gathered from the yelling). I remember people setting off fireworks at their houses, but never big real ones. It was especially exciting when one apparently went off while still on the ground, and the yard was sprayed with colorful sparks. There was an extra-special bout of yelling after that one.

But it was probably the proliferation of glowsticks (that almost kept Mike out of the amphitheater), American bandanas (that helped Scott make friends in Target and Mike make friends at the grocery store), and embarrassing dancing that took place at the Kelly Clarkson concert. I very rarely go out in public and act foolishly on purpose, but apparently Kelly Clarkson brings out that side of me. We sang. There was dancing and jumping. There was no way for people to know that . . . we don’t always behave like that. Nor do we always wear glowsticks to concerts. Or accost little children and demand to have our picture taken with their Kelly Clarkson posters. So I’m pretty sure that everyone around us thought we were a truly weird group of people who are freakishly obsessed with Kelly Clarkson. Hence all the, “KELLY CLARKSON, WOOOOOOOO!” yelling. Instead, I think we are a truly weird group of people who are mildly obsessed with Kelly Clarkson. And Adriene, the photographer who does not judge us. At least while we are in earshot.

Having been to see Coldplay with a similar group of people (Susan, that was supposed to make you feel sad twinges. Did it work?), let me say that the overall crowd was much more fun at this concert. And by “much more fun,” I mean “much less drunk” and “much less crowded.” Which made it much more fun. No drunk frat guys looking for diamond rings they dropped. Nobody walking through our huge pile of snacks. Just good times with friends and fun pop music.

Scott pointed out that the weekend was all-American: baseball games, American Idols, and, well, I didn’t make apple pie, but I did make peach cobbler. Close enough, right? I made flag cake! Surely that should count for something!

Last year after Birthday Weekend, I thought a lot about how great my friends are, and the only thing I can do this year is repeat that sentiment. I had such a great time this weekend – my only regret is that there weren’t more hours in the day so there could have been more sleeping. But there was so much I want to remember about this weekend – the quiet night in with the girls where we played with sparklers and talked. Going to church with Scott, where we had an excellent discussion about Elizabethtown. The cookout that was attended by so many people I care about and who care about me, which made it much more fun than stressful. Seeing different parts of my life integrate pretty successfully (but how could they not when two adorable little girls were involved?). The s’mores we made as we initiated our new fire pit. Shopping with Dawn and Adriene. Going to Target for snacks (per our concert tradition). The sheer volume of fun of seeing Kelly Clarkson with a bunch of 13-year-olds. Taking Adriene to the airport (and being hungry for pizza at 8am). Watching The Office with Scott and Mike (Dawn was asleep) while baking a cake. YellingWAFFLES” with friends who don’t think I am ridiculous for doing so – and having Adriene on the phone when the Waffle House Strikeout Victim actually struck out. And wrapping up the weekend by watching fireworks by the side of the road. It went by so fast, and I’m so glad there are pictures to tell parts of all the different stories that took place. I’ve sort of gotten to the point that this entry has said all I can say right now, even though it’s not everything that could be said by any means.

Mike asked me what I was going to title this post, and I said, “Just ‘Birthday Weekend 2006.’ Should I subtitle it something like ‘This much fun is impossible to top?'” And Mike’s face suddenly looked both happy and sad, and he said, “Yeah, I don’t know if we ever will.” Thanks to all of you who came and made it such a fun time, or sent supplies and presents or called or just enjoyed the many pictures. You are greatly appreciated.

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