This 4th of July marked one of four times in my 22 (almost 23) year-old life that I was not in my hometown for the 4th of July. Something you
may not know about me is that I love traditions, and the 4th of July in Ripley is a tradition unlike any other. It doesn't matter how hot it is: a solid 95% of Jackson County West Virginia will probably be in Ripley for the 4th of July festivities. I love sitting outside watching the parade every year. Going to the carnival for funnel cakes and lemonade is what I live for. Coming back to town that night for fireworks is a right of passage.
And then I moved to Augusta, Georgia.
And because the 4th of July was on a Wednesday this year, that made it extremely difficult for me to go home for the holiday. Especially when I not have to consider Wes and his job along with my own life.
The decision was made not to go and I was visibly bummed for the next week.
Flash forward to Tuesday, July 3rd, and Wes asked me what I always did when I went home for the 4th. There's the carnival, the parade, swimming, cook outs, family and friends, and of course fireworks! All of the things we didn't really have the option to do down here in Georgia. What kind of place doesn't have a parade?!
The next morning, July 4th, I wake up really early for some horrible reason. Probably pure and utter sadness, but I digress. I'm ready to start my day when Wes rushes into the room and tells me to go back to bed. He has a surprise for me and it's not ready yet. Apparently, me waking up before 9:00 am on a day have off is unheard of and he was unprepared.
So, I go back to bed. Which really means I laid in bed and played on my phone for about 15 minutes before he told me he was ready.
My instructions were to get dressed as if I was going out for the day on the 4th. So, I donned my designated 4th outfit for the year, did my hair, and was whisked out into my living room. Wes "took" me through Ripley in our living room, letting my buy a Zuhls lemonade and Little Caesar's pizza before heading back to my seat for the parade. (I really only got some M&Ms, but I'll take what I can get.) Next, I was serenaded by some of the greatest American pride music you know while Wes pretended to be people in a parade, everyone from politicians to beauty queens to people chucking candy at your face. It was brilliant.
Wes is all about traditions. He loves making them, loves having them. It's his thing.
Our next tradition was to be a water gun/water balloon war. Needless to say, it was epic and I'm still not sure who won. This was something new for me and, at first, I was hesitant. For one, I don't really like water balloons being pelted at me. And two, I'm very clumsy and adding water to that would just make it worse. Luckily, I made it out with only a few scratches and I didn't break my flip flops that I insisted on wearing.
New tradition number two was very fitting: watch National Treasure. How much more patriotic can you get than watching Nicholas Cage steal the Declaration of Independence? Answer: you can't. I haven't watched that movie in so long, I swear it was like watching it for the first time all over again. And, now that I've been to more places that they go in the movie, I was pumped! I swear, if all of that was underneath Trinity Church, I am so mad that was not included in my tour!
Next, we sweated it out at a couple of different 4th of July Festivals in Augusta. I drank a lot of lemonade, one better than the other, and ate some yummy food. What more could you ask for?
Now, I love fireworks. And I've seen some great ones in my day. I've seen them super up close, I've seen them far away, and I've seen them...in the middle? Not sure where I was going there... Anyway! Fireworks are wonderful and there was no way I was missing them, even if we both had to be at work the next morning. We brought our chairs to the riverfront and boy, am I glad that we brought them when we did. At about 9:28, a wave of people came to the riverfront, pushing their way forward and standing in front of those of us who got here earlier. Sorry, I'm being a little petty. But, I'm serious about my fireworks. Two minutes later, they begin.
And I have never seen fireworks in so many shapes and colors before. They had a freaking waterfall of fireworks coming down from the bridge! A WATERFALL! It was amazing and I felt very independent.
Once we got home, we ended the night with sparklers, because how else are you supposed to do it?
Even though I didn't get to go home and have the 4th that I've always loved, I got to have the 4th that I've always wanted. The only thing that would have made it better would have been friends and family to share it with. Regardless, it was incredibly special. I never knew making new traditions would make me so happy. I've always been one to stick to what I know and everything else is silly. But now, I'm forced to look at it all differently. Traditions are there to be made, don't me afraid to make them.