Happy Birthday, America.
We celebrate our country's independence from Britain (and Hollywood extraterrestrials) by firing up the grill, stuffing our faces with red, white and blue-frosted cupcakes and burning ourselves with illegal yet pretty explosives.
America and I have had many different celebrations over the years. From 1996 to 1998 I fried my skin under the sun at the parking gates and ticket booths at Playland Park in Rye, New York, my first summer job I grew to dread by the time I was a senior in high school. It was mandatory to work on the summer holidays, and I had missed out on the family barbecues and beach blanket time with friends. The worst 4th of July was my second summer at the amusement park. I worked a late shift and came home in a shit mood, starving, sunburned and staring at the Macy's holiday broadcast through a black-and-white TV set in the kitchen while scarfing down leftover chicken and potato salad.
I continued working for Westchester County Parks all through college, working the holidays and sticking my nose in the numerous paperbacks I would read on lunch breaks at the beach.
Then came Los Angeles.
2002 was the first time I actually got to enjoy the day off. All I remember is meeting up with BU alumni friends for an impromptu barbecue and then driving up Mullholland to catch the fireworks display at the Hollywood Bowl. In 2004, I was taken down to Manhattan Beach where, in the company strangers, I enjoyed the coastal view from the beach house rooftop of a friend of a friend's neighbor. 2005 was spent stuck in traffic on the 90 catching a few distant sparks from Marina Del Rey (last minute plan after grilling sausages on Doug's lanai at Maryland Manor). The year after that - sitting in the sand on Manhattan Beach with some friends and then later munching on unlimited breadsticks and salad at a nearby Olive Garden. Last year, a clambake in Playa Del Rey and a pretty awesome view of the Marina show. 2008: A pool party/barbecue in the Hollywood Hills followed by the same annual clambake in Playa Del Rey (this time minus the hike up the hill to catch the fireworks) followed by a late dinner at the cool Boulevard Lounge in West Hollywood.
I know I'll appreciate these records when my memory goes at the age of 90.