Monday, July 5, 2010

Suburbs of Our Discontent

Thirty-three years have I but gone in travail
Of you, my sons; and, till this present hour
My heavy burdens ne'er delivered.
The duke, my husband, and my children both,
And you the calendars of their nativity,
Go to a gossip's feast, and joy with me:
After so long grief such festivity!
(Comedy of Errors, 5.1)

I get to go home again every summer. It's the same house I grew up in three months a year in Maine. My parents would pack up the four kids, the dog, the guinea pig, the parakeet, the cooler of tuna fish sandwiches, and a carton of Benson and Hedges, and hit the road, driving us all for 10 hours out of the city and into the fresh sea air (after sucking in some classic 1970s second-hand smoke).

Most of us still convene here every year for the Fourth of July, which was--hands down--the most exciting day of the year. The high point was the parade around the town green. The polaroids commemorating each of our efforts form a timeline that marks some our generation's greatest influences: 1972: the peace/hippies theme; 1974: the "don't litter" float; 1976: the Bicentennial tribute.

As we've gone on to have kids, we've left it to them to create their own parade memories. But this year, we decided to recycle one of our favorites: The 1977 Chinese Dragon. The giant papier maché and chicken wire head had been gathering dust in my parents' attic for 33 years. This summer, I pulled it out and delivered it to my friend Betsy who originally held the head in 1977. With the help of her sister and my cousin, she rehabbed it beautifully, and all of our kids marched under it.

I was 10 when we all first got under that sheet—the same age as my daughter when she took her place there yesterday.

Time marches on. It's nice to know that sometimes it can circle back for you--or at least a part of you.

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