July 5, 2014

Independence Day

I remember when I was younger, every holiday was such a big deal, because it meant good food and the family would all be together. That was all that ever mattered to me. I loved having everyone near. But, as the story usually goes, everyone gets older and nothing ever stays the same, no matter how hard we try to hold onto it. They start getting married, start their own lives, move away. And, of course, the inevitable of the older ones passing away. All you have are the memories of childhood : teasing each other, being mad that the other one got something better than you did, your grandparents' stories about your parents growing up, playing with sparklers, opening presents, and basically just sitting with eyes full of wonder and amazement, whatever the occasion was. 

This Independence Day was a bit different than most, although we've had a nice mix over the years. We used to have the family over to our house every year to BBQ, hang out and shoot fireworks off at our house (usually the biggest bundle or the one next to it). One year, we went out to the local baseball game to watch fireworks. Another year, we spent the holiday with Carrie Underwood as she rocked the Stadium of Fire, complete with a fireworks show in Utah. The year before last, we went to a Dodger game, while Billy Ray Cyrus sang "The National Anthem," and there were fireworks at the end (and Charlie Sheen was there). Last year, one of our local colleges hosted a fireworks show, so we went out to eat with our family friends, and I called my best friend at the last minute to hang out with us. It was a blast.
This time around, it was just my parents and I, but still just as fun. 

I slept in until 9:30 or so, got ready, ate breakfast, then off we went. My mom wanted to stop at Stein Mart in Valencia, which was cool. We weren't there for very long, and I got a cool journal out of it. Where's bad?

We ended up just going to LA for the day, not really entirely sure of what the rest of the day would hold or what our plans were. It made it kind of fun, because as a planner, I like to have everything planned out (obviously). But, life isn't always that simple, or shouldn't be. Being spontaneous, and not really knowing where the day is going is kind of fun too. Especially when you don't really need to have everything figured out. So, we ended up going to a museum mom and I had tried to go to last time, but...Long story short, we didn't. It was the Annenberg Space for Photography, which had an incredible exhibit featuring country music. We parked and walked across to the museum, and tried to use the elevator and ended up taking a little detour to a random room that was all white and had a really long hallway. Eventually we ended up where we needed to go. WOO! 

The coolest part about the museum is that it was FREE! WHAT?? There was actually a lot more to see than I had originally thought. There were so many old photographs of the greats like, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and even our own local guy, Buck Owens. There were also more recent pictures of Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and a few others. There was even a 45 minute documentary about photography and getting that perfect shot. The journalist in me was fascinated by the storytelling aspect of it all. Photographers talked about their subjects ranging from Lyle Lovett to Taylor Swift, and described how they wanted the picture to perfectly capture the artist and their personality. I'd say they did a pretty fantastic job. It had me thinking about how I want to be able to tell a musician's story through my own words, but to make sure that it sounds like them and something that will share who they are with the world in the most accurate way I know how. Pictures are all about getting that perfect moment...And telling the story of how that happened. I walked out of there feeling incredibly inspired. 

When we finished at the museum, we were all starting to get hungry. We drove around awhile, trying to find a new place to try that we'd never been to. We ended up in Marina Del Ray for a bit, but didn't see much around to eat, so we kept going. I'm not even totally sure where we were exactly, but we saw a shopping center from the freeway that had a Tony Roma's, so we decided to go there. I had the shrimp scampi pasta, which was pretty tasty. I just haven't been eating that much, so it felt like it didn't go anywhere. Plus, there was bread and salad on top of that. While we waited, mom even started giving us the U.S citizen test...We were doing great...But, then we found out there were about 50 questions or so, and decided that we probably knew most of them anyway! HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA. We were SO full after we left. 

When we finished eating, we headed into Long Beach, which is gorgeous by the way; drove by the Queen Mary and some of the cargo ships that were around, then tried to find a spot to watch the fireworks, because we were afraid it would start getting busier. We found a cheap parking lot not too far away from where we were going, then tried to figure out where we were going. LOL. We walked around for a bit, and I just love the area. There were people walking around, shops, restaurants, and the summer sun was shining. We found a restroom in the convention center/aquarium, then we were pretty much asked to leave by security, so that was exciting (JK).

We found a cute little park near the marina/docking area for the boats, and figured it would be close enough to see the fireworks from the Queen Mary. There were adorable little bridges that looked like something out of Enchanted by a lake that would be in a Nicholas Sparks novel. Needless to say, I was getting a lot of ideas and daydreams out of that. What can I say? I'm a hopeless romantic, and to me, setting is everything. 

This is what I call "The Land of Wishful Thinking." It's in between reality and daydreams.
Also, the Taylor Swift "artsy shot"
"I can't decide if it's a choice/
Getting swept away/
I hear the sound of my own voice/
Asking you to stay/
And all we are is skin and bone/
Trained to get along/
Forever going with the flow/
But, you're friction." ~T.Swift
We found the perfect rock, which is much like I imagined Rory Gilmore's "study tree" to feel like. And we pretty much stayed there for three hours. It was very picturesque, so I was brainstorming ideas for a story I'm writing, and jotting down notes like the nerd that I am, and just chatting with my parents. There was also a couple not too far away from us that were very, uh, "entertained" with one another...We'll just put it that way. I took in the scenery, as well as way too many selfies...and snap chatting my best friend, because why not??

There were a lot of couples around us, and I just started thinking...Is Independence Day like the new Valentine's Day? It looked like there were a lot of people on dates, being all lovey dovey. Guess it's just that summer romance going on. Where's a Shane West or Ryan Gosling when you need him? ;) Haha totally kidding...Kind of. 

When the sun went down and the lights turned on, it was like something out of a movie. Spotlight on the water as children played and couples held each other close. And then there's me, just watching from afar, like the narrator. Because I'm in the time of transition - not a kid anymore, but not quite at that place where I want to settle down. It's kind of nice, actually. Last summer, I probably would have started feeling sorry for myself, that everybody had somebody but me (cue the Hunter Hayes song). This time, I'm actually kind of glad for it. I'm loving the single life. It's way less stress from the sounds of it. 

At nine o'clock, the fireworks finally started. They were a bit lower than we were anticipating, and through the trees, it was a little harder to see, but it was still a lot of fun..Even if they didn't last very long. I loved watching all of the kids running around and playing with their families; it reminded me of youth and innocence. It was also something different, and we don't go to Long Beach very often, so it was a nice change in scenery. 

As soon as the fireworks ended, we made a beeline for the parking lot, because we thought we might hit more traffic. And we did hit a little, but it wasn't too bad. The drive home was amazing, because we could see fireworks from every direction and was perfect as we listened to some of the catchiest summer country tunes. 

Yesterday was just really good for me. I needed to get away. After being so paranoid and losing some sleep the last few days, it was good to get away from it all for a bit. I felt a little more at peace when I came home. And even though I still didn't get to sleep until close to 3, I felt much better about everything. 

That's all for now,
Shelby :)

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