Of faded flag tee shirts.

Resplendent in ten or eleven year old glory. Circa 2002. The reason why I loved every fourth of July growing up.

In some ways I regret being so public about my blog, because it makes me cautious to put forth things like this. But here we are, reveling in our matching tee shirts and newly acquired tans, offset by carefully coordinated blue jorts.

I can’t say I miss the straight-across bangs or overly round glasses that I rocked for (way too many) years, but I do miss what I felt when this was taken. For years, July 4th marked a house overflowing with people. My “cousins” (above) and another family close to both of ours would stay for what seemed like two weeks which were infused with salt air, days spent running in the yard or by the ocean, and falling asleep in a room filled with four other people, exhausted, content, muscles still feeling the phantom push of the day’s waves. When you’re an only child, having four other children (who you actually like…) living with you is like a dream come true.

This doesn’t happen anymore. When the group of three families fell apart so did a lot of our traditions. I still see the girls above and their family — more than twice a year when I’m lucky. They are two of my best friends, I can tell them anything and we have laughed and cried together over the serious, silly, and sentimental. But I no longer get to share the deep boom in your chest accompanying a great round of fireworks, and I haven’t had the pleasure of wearing red, white, and blue with them for a long time.

As we get older our plans had to change. We found activities to compensate for what we lost. This year one was in Connecticut with her boyfriend’s family, one was in D.C. staying with friends in their AU dorms to marvel at the Capitol Fourth, and I was in Rhode Island, helping a friend celebrate her birthday.

It is my deepest wish though that as the years pass even further, we’ll come full circle and end up together again. On Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard, renting out a house for all three of our respective families and our parents? On Cape Cod doing the same? I couldn’t tell you where it will be, but I know that I want to have pictures like this of my children. I want them to know what it’s like to proudly coordinate outfits with your “cousins” and spend careful time painting your nails with red glitter and silver stars. I want them to love the Fourth of July because it celebrates something more than fireworks or apple pie — it celebrates being with the people you love.

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