Filmmaker & Artist


Angsty Americana

Today marks the first year that I am not home for Independence Day. It only means much because it is a specific score of change. In 2013, I had not planned to be home around this time either but circumstance brought me back right in time. 4th of July in theory is far more whimsical and nostalgic than it always turns out to be in reality; At least as I got older. I have spent the holiday on parade floats, sizzling my fingertips with sparklers, and trying to find the perfect wardrobe of red, white, and blue. Last year, was a bit more introspective and misgiving. 

By the time I was home, I was in a bit of an odd place: work, friendship, relationship, and personal-wise. Everybody had their plans and I happen to be invited last minute to come to an old high school friend's party. Reluctantly, I went. Every party seems to have the crowned douchebag; little did I know as I was crowning everyone, it was me who was the real King. Anyone who nicely approached me after having not seen me in about four years, I brushed them off as if they were patronizing me and I was pandering them. Without laboriously going into all of my social indolence, I marked the last of my territory when I approached three guys who were wearing matching red and white flannels and proceeded to flex my finest and most (non)insulting comedic chops at them in regards to how ridiculous I thought they were, only to actually return to hollow laughs and squinting stares. 

I found the fastest route out of there and as I blistered my hands on the scalding steering wheel, I fogged my sunglass knock-offs as I realized how obscene I had just acted toward absolutely unassuming people. I called each of my siblings, all of whom were too busy to hear my lamentations and to even hang out with me. My mind was desperate. I was home with nothing to do, no one to see, and it was a day that was supposed to be celebrated. My mind quickly caught fire to the fact that I had not been to the County Fair yet and that it was the last day to do so. Almost without thinking, I peeled my car around and headed toward the coast. 

Halfway to the fair, I reached the most gorgeous part of the drive. I passed large open fields that were decorated with multi-colored, hot air balloons overhead. I immediately pulled over to watch. As I sat on the hood of my Pontiac, I had a second to think for the first time since I had gotten off of the plane and away from every fire I had set so far. No matter how asinine, existential or unoriginal my thoughts were, I began to think about the people in the hot air balloons. I thought about how only so many people can go in one at a time. Whether it was a couple, some friends, random people who won a contest, they all were in a small basket, in the sky, essentially defying gravity together. I imagined myself with anyone from the party that I just left. I would not be able to look them in the eye until I was essentially forced to. I considered how I took advantage of space, time, and kindness and in such a small space, for such a long time, it would only be necessary to communicate properly with someone and appreciate their presence; Form a bond, humanly connect. Because, who goes into a hot air balloon to be distant and mean? Anyways, as my mind trailed off and tried to comprehend life's many wonders and simplicities, something clicked. I do not know exactly what it was but I felt a sense of contentment yet recognition of what it meant to appreciate home and those around you. I had no time to waste on by being boorish or alienating because I had being given such a beautiful place to come home to and be taken care of and I was just mocking it in its face. I am not sure how my thoughts melded into all of this illusory but when you are extremely emotional everything becomes so poignant. 

After that tender moment with the sky and the overwhelming fragrance of exhaust, I cruised to the carnival ready to acknowledge my deliberate divorce from humankind for the day. I promised myself I would just absorb the space around me, appreciate the happiness of others, and sincerely keep to myself. I needed to savor the ubiquitous freedom that those around me had to be who they please and do as they desire. 

The "oohs" and "aahs" of the amusement riders, the fluorescent illuminations, the ebb and flow of patriotically robed bodies, all surrounded me. I was all alone. It seemed as if everyone had their boyfriend, their aunt, and their boyfriend's aunt's boyfriend with them. People tugged at each other's sides to chase the next line or try a fried frog leg. I was still alone. I reassured the choice, I had to. I had to remind myself of the fact that I chose my actions, my attitude and my whereabouts. All I could do was appreciate exactly what I was doing and exactly where I was standing. As I trudged through the overcrowded grounds, I brushed past sticky-fingered children jousting for the next tuft of cotton candy, overheard plans for fireworks viewings, and made my way into a line for what seemed to be that year's new and shocking treat: Bacon Maple Glazed Doughnuts. I accepted the fate and walked away with a doughnut that could be an inner tube for an infant. No more than five bites in, I developed type 3 diabetes. In an attempt of human connection, I offered a teenage kid the rest but he looked at me as if I had three heads and walked away. I took my cue and headed toward the exit. 

When I got home, nobody was there. Still a bit melancholic, I got ready for bed and let my mind race through the day over and over. A lot of things never make sense, whether it is behavior, moments, people, ourselves. Certain things began to make more sense after that day but before I shut my eyes that night, one thing truly made sense: Independence. Please, do not stop reading and walk away rolling your eyes, hear me out.

I realized that I can push the world away all day or I can embrace it so deeply, either way if I do not have any sort of self-reliance or self-sufficiency then I can do neither. Somebody can try to help me all day and put up with my insolence time after time but eventually I need the strength when I am left all by myself to be able to stand up and be better. I also just need to take a chill pill and celebrate and envelop myself into moments rather than disappear into the background.

So, whatever a day like today makes you feel, whether it is pride for your country, nostalgic of holiday's past, or grateful for the freedoms you have, do not let a drop of angst or disconsolation get a hold of you. Just think about bald eagles or something. 


Kelli Reilly1 Comment