The Fourth of July has always been a weird holiday for me. I never really enjoyed summertime — the humidity makes me miserable, the heat tires me out, and the sun beating down on my skin feels excruciating. (You would think my Filipino heritage would make me think otherwise, but hey…)
As a child, the Fourth of July usually comprised of a barbecue at home, watching fireworks in our backyard (and on TV!), and hanging out with my cousins. Thinking about it now, I can totally taste my dad’s barbecued chicken and zucchini and hear the slam of the patio door as people move in and out of the house!
Before college, the only Fourth of July spent away from home took place in Southern California. Fireworks are legal to buy and use there, unlike back home in New Jersey, so the most memorable moment of my time there had to be watching my cousins set off roman candles and firecrackers right in the middle of the street. So close and so loud, I thought I was going to get burned!
Last summer was the first that I spent completely away from home. I continued working at my work-study job, lived in an on-campus apartment, and had more free time than I knew what to do with. Though my parents had asked if I wanted to come home for the long weekend, I decided to stay in Boston with my friends and experience the Fourth of July in the birthplace of America.
The day was actually cooler than most, which certainly helped as we waited several hours in the shade on the banks of the Charles. I met up with some friends and chilled there until the sun set and the fireworks show began. I had seen my fair share of fireworks shows before, back home, of course, but nothing compares to seeing a big-city show so up-close and personal. From the point where we were sitting, they were shooting up on either side of us, completely lighting up the entire sky in every color imaginable. Afterwards, everyone spilled out onto Storrow Drive, spilling back into the city for a night undoubtedly filled with celebrations and “USA!” chants.
This year, the celebrations were actually pushed back a day because of an impending hurricane. Though this certainly shook up our plans for the weekend, watching the fireworks again took priority over everything. We staked out great seats on the docks of the Esplanade for several hours, playing games and watching the river to pass the time. We saw a “mutant” goose eat a water snake, several boats and canoes row by, an even a dog owner play catch with her hyper puppies swimming in the water!
After the show, there was bottlenecking as crowds of people returned to the city at once via footbridge, and after returning to campus, my friends and I were all contacting each other to meet up again. Suddenly, rain started to pour down, steady at first, then pounding down mercilessly. Surprised gasps swept down Commonwealth Ave. as the cold rain quickly struck everyone’s exposed skin. I started to panic, cold and shivering, as I huddled in a covered, crowded bus stop with many others.
As the rain started to die down, however, I started to calm down and decided to join my friends for a Fourth of July get-together. Though I was exhausted from sitting out in the sun all day and getting caught in the rain, I realized that I now had more interesting stories to tell and fun memories to cherish for the rest of my life.