My First 4th Of July Out Of The United States

July 4 — A year of firsts means doing things differently for the first time all year long. Not groundbreaking news. Still, time, places, scenarios we face daily are easier to change than those things we do only once a year. Only once a year do we celebrate today and being in Berlin makes it very different.

I’ve never been one to celebrate 4th of July, attend or throw parties. Not sure why. Last year I didn’t see any fireworks and all my ideas to watch them were dismissed by the guy I was dating at the time. He didn’t want to be around crowds. It was hot. He’d seen them before. Blah. Blah. Blah.

At the time it didn’t seem awful to me to be dating such a negative person. I was glad not to be alone. The few years before I was alone. Being alone on the 4th of July is like being alone on Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Something I wouldn’t have known until I was. It’s not about being in a relationship. Physically having no company or friends around is difficult.

No one invited me to go anywhere or do anything and I emotionally tortured myself by watching all the videos and pictures go up on Facebook. Towns are empty as people head near the water and up to the mountains. Going out was like walking through a ghost town. If you do find somewhere to go it’s sad to know you and the few others in the place could realistically be the same people in there come Christmas.Three years ago, to keep myself occupied, I watched a three hour long movie and when it finished watched it all over again.

This year was same but very different. Same because I was alone and saw no fireworks. Different because now more than ever I wanted to celebrate my country but was in a foreign country. We’re not perfect and have our problems. There’s still no other place I want to call home. Being in a city where my holiday means nothing was strange.

Unlike international holidays this is something only the U.S. celebrates. Some people even bash it because of the history. Ironically, they love the countries which funded and made the takeover possible. That’s a completely different story.

I was preparing to go to the store and stopped thinking they might not be open. Sundays in Berlin many things are closed. I didn’t find a single grocery store open. You really have to plan because if you need something on a Sunday you could be out of luck. Then I realized today was just another day for them. It was only special to me.

All day I couldn’t get it out of my head that today is July 4, 2017. Another day on the calendar here. It comes after the 3rd and right before the 5th. We don’t even pronounce it the same way. We say it’s the 4th of July. Who knew I had habits and a train of thought surrounding a U.S. holiday I barely celebrate?

Another difference was although I was alone today I was absolutely fine with it. With the sun out I decided to find a place to watch the sunset. Not the same as fireworks, but it was my way of celebrating. My nation is so much younger than the places I’ve been visiting. They have bars and restaurants in original condition older than my country! It also means they have had a lot of rough years.

We are in our rough years now. I liken it to growing pains. A very simplified version, yes, but today is our birthday. Another year older. Like a rebellious teenager. Spoiled. Not listening to anyone. Defying authority. Thinking she can do no wrong.

I was born in the bicentennial year and have no idea what it was like in 1976. It was a few months before I was born. I heard stories about people dressing up and everyone having these big USA parties all year long. Not just on 4th of July. Now I don’t even know how my country celebrated it. I’m completely out of touch.

One thing I do know is I’ll be celebrating the birth of my country from here on out. Ironically, birthdays are my favorite and I’ve neglected one of the most important ones in my life. I don’t know what might become of me if I had been born in another country. What if I had been born in Morocco? Or any country where I immediately had no freedom or rights for simply being born a woman. A frightening thought.

Being thankful for your country is one thing. I’ve always been thankful. Celebrating it is another. By not celebrating I wasn’t showing my gratitude. Giving back to a country who has given me so much. I won’t take it for granted or miss another celebration again.

My end of day gratitude:

  1. Watching sunset.
  2. Being alone on 4th of July and being happy about it.
  3. Proud to be born and raised in the U.S.A!

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