My Independence Day Weekend
I need to preface this with the understanding that like anything in life, experiencing and embracing my independence is both positive and negative. There are times where I have been dependent on people when I should be standing on my own two feet. Yet as previously noted in my tendency toward the extremes, I often swing toward complete independence–pushing others away.
Saturday morning I woke up and had my first authentic melt down (in DC). I missed my family, my friends, Oregon, mountains, deep conversations and hugs (and that is saying a lot). I think it has been part grace and part loving the newness of life in DC, but I had gone 6 weeks without experiencing the full force of emotions that I knew were bound to hit. I wanted the feeling of family: I wanted to be dependent on one another. As I type this though, I realize how this DC experience has not been cut and dry: independence vs dependence. I am not fully independent. In fact, I’ve experienced a lot of dependency. I walked into a totally different culture. Completely dependent on Leah (my friend in Baltimore), Faith (the woman I’m renting from), friends I’m meeting at church and my incredible Mobilize.org Team (which often creates that feeling of family). I have embraced the mantra “no shame,” asking basic questions, feeling like I’m 5 every day. Yet I have had to be independent as I figure out this new world without those who know me. I walk, alone. I come to a home, alone. I visit museums, alone. I ride the metro, alone. I go to events, alone. To be honest with you, sometimes it is lonely (Convinced? that was hard). But there is this other part of me that absolutely loves it! I love walking at my own speed, I love eating what I want to, I love the freedom to meander through a museum. (Convinced? Those of you who know me, know this.) A little selfish? Indeed…indeed.
After my Saturday morning meltdown, I had a quite independent evening. I think the afternoon was a good transition for me. We mourned the closing of Singapore Bistro(Maya’s favorite sushi restaurant that closed due to the impact of this economic crisis). Then Nick + Kendal and I enjoyed some time in Eastern Market and the Mall. It was good to be with people as I recovered from my emotional spill over that morning.
Saturday, being the day before July 4th, there is a full on dress rehearsal of the concert in front of the Capitol Building. I knew that it would be most practical to go brave the crowds for the dress rehearsal rather than attempt the day of with the masses on the Mall for concerts + fireworks. So I went. I sat by myself (surrounded by people) on the Capitol steps watching the sunset over the monuments and hearing David Archuleta, Lang Lang, the National Symphony and Reba McIntire. It was lovely. It was a fun (hot!) evening. One of those extended moments where everything was as it was. It was good. Oh, but it started out with Gladys Knight being introduced and then a CD began playing and a white woman trying to lip sink…my heart sunk.
Then Darius Rucker: same thing, but a guy sang who knew the lyrics. From there on, all the artists were present. Including country legend, Reba and did not disappoint.
I felt quite patriotic and independent. It was a beautiful night to be enjoy music and the DC at moonlight.
I woke up Sunday morning on the 4th July with a burst of independence. I walked the 0.9mi to the closest grocery store in order to prepare for the small pre-DC fireworks BBQ for Leah, Ben, Zack and I. It was lovely. I love walking to get my groceries even if I do end up with a bit of a trek. I then spent all morning baking. And believe it or not this was my first true baking day (other than a few batches of chocolate no-bake cookies).
And of course, I baked enough for 30 people, not 4! But I was in creative, sugary bliss. Next to Christmas, I really do think that the 4th of July is the best holiday to bake for. There’s so much you can do with red, white and blue! And any other time of the year, using those colors I just feel kinda corny. (I think if I met that Navy Seal, I would feel a lot less corny using red, white and blue throughout the year–just sayin’). I ended up with cupcakes for little Zack, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Truffles and Dark Chocolate Brownies w/ Cream Cheese frosting (thank you Mrs. Poppin and Kelsey Shields).
We had a wonderful little BBQ. Salad, cherries, chicken, hamburgers, baked beans (from a can…I don’t know how or want to know how to do that!). We then rushed down to the Capitol lawn with the masses who had been flowing in all day. (We made it in the nick of time). This time I did get to see (well, not see, but hear) Gladys Knight and Darius Rucker. I spent most of the time calling my Grandma so she could hear David Archuleta. It was a strange evening where childhood (good, ole country music) met high school (hanging out with Leah) met college (eating Kelsey Shield’s awesome brownies) met postgrad (life in DC). A strange, wonderful collision of self. It was good to be with friends, but I was also quite aware of how accustomed I am getting to my own independence. I felt a little bit like a spoiled child. It was seriously difficult for me to slow down my pace or find a section large enough for four people. Going to crowded events is a whole lot easier when you’re only looking out for one. I now realize why my family avoided braving the crowds. It gets stressful. But more than anything I was faced with the negative side of my growing independence (humbled).
After the concert the fireworks began over the monuments. It was beautiful. Quite surreal to watch with the rest of the world in celebration of our great nation. I wish my camera could get a good picture of it. But I’m sure you can imagine.
But the morning of July 5th was a much more authentic day of remembrance for me. I decided that since it was my day off, I was going to take a loonnggg morning run (my knees are still suffering) down to hang out with President Abraham Lincoln. It was an incredible morning (humid and hot!). While drenched in sweat (I’m sure you’re appreciating these details–but seriously, no shame) I just let myself be at the memorial. I read the inscriptions and allowed the words to overwhelm me. I was seized by the history of our country and the sacrifice of so many. I am humbled: I truly cannot begin to fathom sacrifice and the gift of freedom. I then walked over to the Korean War Memorial. I honestly can’t tell you why. There was no particular reason except that I hadn’t been there yet. It is a simple, beautiful Memorial. There is an inscription that states : “Freedom is not Free.” Something I’ve heard, I believe. I sat. I stared at it. Reread, reread. I prayed, a lot. I cried, a lot. Tears of gratitude and tears of…just not being able to fully understand. I don’t know the fully magnitude and meaning of those words: “freedom is not free.” They are key to Theology, to salvation. It is key to our life here in the United States. There is such weight in those words. I found myself overwhelmed with pondering and asking God, “what is my part?” And honestly, I don’t know. I’m not sure what my part is in all this. I wish I had some great answer, but for now it is to live life as is. I think I have been strategically placed where I am in life. For now I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I am thankful for the country I live in and the story that I am living. I do think about the things that bring me the greatest joy. Here are a few: relationships, reading, walking, talking, counseling, running, reflecting, baking and writing. I wonder if I could mix all of these together: some form of philanthropy that involves food, exercise and counseling. Hmm…just thoughts for now. Or maybe I can be the female Donald Miller and write a semi-philosophical/theological, self/life reflections and compile them into a book. That I think I would love. For now, I’m enjoying life as is–quirks, failures, successes and all.