It’s been three years this month since we moved to London for two years. We just renewed our visas to stay on for a fourth.
I don’t know what it is about Fourth of July that makes me wax wistful and nostalgic (and a bit rambly)… I guess maybe because we moved here in July, so it’s nearly the anniversary of our big move; and it’s our home country’s birthday, and so I’m feeling more patriotic than usual. (I’m not particularly patriotic, generally.)
I’ve always thought that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but maybe it’s a tie with the Fourth of July. They have a lot in common, when you think about it. Both are all about coming together with friends and family and neighbors and eating and drinking and enjoying a nice social atmosphere, with no gifts given or received. And they are both holidays that can be celebrated by all Americans, regardless of religion. And, unfortunately for expats, both are celebrated only in America.
We love you, England, but we are still Americans. Despite today being a school day and work day we are still celebrating our Independence Day. I feel a bit envious as I see the pictures friends post of all the fun things they are doing today—Fourth of July BBQs and parades and pool parties, eating watermelon and setting off fireworks, just classic American summertime nostalgia—while we are having only a small family celebration this year.
I have really fond memories of big neighborhood Fourth of July BBQs and fireworks displays from my own childhood. But our kids’ childhoods will just be a bit different than our own.
The girls still loved dressing in red, white, and blue; waving flags and sparklers; and helping me make patriot parfaits for a special dessert.
We’ve had a proper summer here in London, and E’s school isn’t even out for summer holidays yet. In May, we had those first days of glorious, perfect weather that makes everyone in London go outside and act giddy. I walked down the road on those days thinking how grateful I am for the opportunity to live in London, and how proud I am of us for being brave enough to take the opportunity, and how much I really freaking love living in London.
When I lived in Bath the year I studied abroad, I didn’t actually get to know that many Brits. My program(me) was all American students from colleges on the East Coast, and we all pretty much stuck together for everything. So other than our British professors and administrators, I didn’t befriend anyone my own age from here. I briefly, sort-of dated some local bloke named Ian, if you could call it dating. Our interactions basically consisted of drinking Bacardi Breezes at dance clubs and text messaging. He did threaten to buy me dolphin jewel(le)ry, so you could say it was pretty serious.
I’m feeling a little homesick on the eve of America’s birthday, I must admit. I opened up my Instagram feed and saw picture after picture of American summer activities, as people are spending their holiday weekend at the beach or pool, having a BBQ with friends, watching fireworks and waving sparklers, eating corn on the cob and slices of watermelon, roasting marshmallows for s’mores, or drinking beer at a baseball game.