If you look back through my archives, there seems a trend to my Fourth of July posts: rather than feeling free, it seems I tend to feel lonely. And let's be honest: loneliness and independence are not remotely the same thing. You can be independent and still be around people; while you can be lonely and independent, I suppose, it's not nearly so rewarding.
This year has found me once again at my parents' house in Centerville. Wandering city festivities. Listening for a couple of songs to a less-than-wonderful band (swing this year, not 60s cover--do we consider this progress or just a genre change?) and then coming back and setting off fireworks at my parents house.
Thank heaven for niece and nephews. They make everything more entertaining and interesting. And it's impossible not to think that even the lamest of fireworks you're setting off are just a little bit marvellous when you have munchkins who ooh and ahh at them.
Interestingly enough, I don't mind being a lone child this year: but maybe that's because all of us were here for the city festivities on Friday. Or maybe it's because I like that I get to experience the moments when my presence causes my parents to suddenly lose years of maturity (my mom, in particular--it's delightful!). I have also realized that I don't mind playing a family role as observer; I like to see what everyone else does, hear what everyone else talks about, smile at others' jokes. In short, I like to be the fly on the wall.
I bring books for others; my mom recommends books to me. Sometimes it's quiet, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's just me, sometimes there are more. Always, always, I feel a quiet sense of belonging here (perhaps I just didn't recognize it before because I was being too petulant about being a single amongst marrieds).
But I don't ever feel lonely here, because here will always be home.