Perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder

Here we are. Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans. One of my favorite holidays. Not for normal reasons, like the “let’s all have a barbecue and set off some fireworks and drink fruity drinks” way. I don’t do any of that. I used to, back in the day. Now mostly I am just excited about a random day off in the middle of the week so I can stay up late the night before and sleep in on the 4th, and then have the day to do whatever I want all day. Quite American, right? Right.

WHOA.This is WAY American.

Nope, it’s one of my favorite holidays because it’s a day that celebrates my country. And I really do, for all the fun I poke at it, love my country. So, so much. (I think half of being an American is poking fun at your country. The other half is probably eating hot dogs.)

Very, VERY Merkan.

So, 236 years ago today, the Declaration of Independence was adopted. A group of Americans got together and did something we, as Americans, are very good at. They got pissed off. They got angry that the British were telling them what to do and refusing to listen to them and being bossy-britches, and finally were all, “SCREW THIS YO” and wrote up a declaration stating that, nope, we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore so we’re taking our toys and we’re GOING HOME. Oh, wait, we’re home. YOU go home, British. YOU GO HOME. (Another reason to love our forefathers? The British had them officially declared traitors in 1775. Traitors! I like that. I like that a lot. My forefathers were traitors. Well, ok, my spiritual forefathers, as my actual forefathers were probably hanging out in Canada at the time, from what I can tell. Oh, and my foreMOTHERS. Can’t forget my foremothers. They were undoubtedly quite kickass traitors as well.)

They don’t look especially traitory. I think that’s because of the wigs. Wigs negate traitorness.

What’s that? I’m oversimplifying a little bit? OK FINE. You can read the whole Declaration of Independence here. It’s much fancier than just a lot of stomping and crankiness. Look, this was written over two hundred years ago and it’s really beautiful. Jefferson was an amazing writer.

Ooh, this is a stylish fur collar! Check this out! Nice one, Jefferson!

They wrote the Declaration of Independence and they handed it out to all of the cranky-pants early Americans and they were all “this ROCKS you guys” and then they continued to fight the American Revolution and that went on for a reallllly long time (8 years, yo!) and with the help of France, Spain, and the Netherlands (thank you, buddies!), we finally became MERKA. Whew! So we could legally be crabbity without taxation without representation and such.

Horses and stabbery and death and destruction. Same as war now, except for probably the horses, I guess. And maybe a little less stabbery.

How much do I love American history? (Well, all history. But American history is one of my favorite things. It gets me all fired up and excited and bouncy. TRAITORS! WARS! POWDERED WIGS! SEWING OF FLAGS!)

HAND-sewing of the flag. Hand-sewing sucks. I don’t envy them this.

I like the fourth because people think about where we came from. I think we should think about that more. We really have a lot to be proud of, you know? We were the underdogs. I love that. Holy HELL do I love that. We were the underdog story and we WON. There is NOTHING I like more than an underdog story. Did we do some crappy things along the way? Sure we did. But overall, we took on a world superpower and we won the right to be our own country. Simplified? Yeah. I like to boil things down to their essence. Makes them easier to take. Like medicine.

So we’re from a bunch of traitors who were cranky and independent and obstinate. You can see why I like a holiday that celebrates our first major step toward that, right? Sure you can.

Stubborn and obstinate. These are my people.

I like to go beyond the 4th and think about the building blocks that made America, well, America. I like to think of the people that explored, and invented, and refused to accept things the way they were.

Our authors: Arthur Miller, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger, L. Frank Baum, Louisa May Alcott, John Irving, Mark Twain, Anne Sexton, Ray Bradbury, Robert Frost, Stephen King, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman, Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Plath. I’m proud they walked the same soil as I did. I’m proud the same country formed them as formed me.

Our artists: Mary Cassatt, James Whistler, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollack, Jasper Johns, Ansel Adams, Annie Liebovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jeff Koons, Frederic Remington, Jean Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Norman Rockwell, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Andrew Wyeth.

Wyeth’s “Christina’s World.” I will always love this painting.

I like to think that these people were born here where I was, that they were educated here, grew up on this same soil that I did, that the same set of values from the same country somehow seeped into them the same way they seeped into me. That we’re all connected, somehow. That makes me proud. Does it also make me a little naive? Sure. It’s the 4th of July. I’m allowed to be naive today. It’s my apple-pie-and-red-white-and-blue-bunting day. Let it ride, sunshine.

And if I naively want America to be a little better, a little more honorable, stronger, truer, more clear-eyed and less backstabby and to work harder and to be all it can be? Well, you might think I’m nuts, but you can’t stop me. I’m childlike in my hope for this, in my belief that we can be better, that we can be amazing.

We’re all a little nuts, us Americans. We’re all melting-potty and we’re all pretty sure we’re always right about everything and we’re bullheaded and we’re angry a lot of the time. We’re also often quite kind. And more intelligent than people give us credit for. And funny. And brave. And hard-working. And some of us are asshatty, sometimes. Guess what? Just like all people all over the place. We’re all people. But they’re all my people, you know? It’s the 4th. I love my fellow Merkans today. With their fireworks and their hamburgers and their beer in big coolers.

I like to think of all of these things rather than all the fighting over politics or illegal immigration or how much we hate other countries for one reason or another or how much we hate each other for being different than we are; I like to think that, for one day, we’re all just kids, looking up at the sky, oohing and aahing over the fireworks, bonding over the grill, basking in the sun and laughing and celebrating a group of traitors who’d had more than enough kowtowing to the man. I like to think of that.

Happy Fourth of July, my wonderful, beautiful, generous, amazing, intelligent, obstinate, argumentative, crazy, hilarious, and, most importantly, human fellow Americans. I’m proud to share my patch of earth with you all.

Happy little sparkler for all of you. Don’t burn your fingers.

(Title from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s amazing “I Am Waiting,” which is long but worth a read, especially today. It’s soaring. Here, I’ll paste it in below. It makes me proud to be a fellow American poet, and it’s perfect for today – which is a surprise, since it was written over fifty years ago. Enjoy your day off, all.)

I Am Waiting
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn\
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

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About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

14 responses to “Perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder

  • Samantha

    Wow. This is beautifully written, Amy, and the poem was quite wonderful. I’m just going to say that you knocked it out of the park on this one.

    I’ve never been super gung-ho patriotic, like I know that America is a much better country to live in than a lot of other places, and after all, it’s my home. But to read that really sparked some patriotism in me that I didn’t know was there. Thank you. :)

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked it! I know it has issues, but I do love our country a lot (even though Dad says “how is that POSSIBLE? A DEMOCRAT loves AMERICA?” Heh.)

      Like

      • Samantha

        You should say, “Well it is a DEMOCRATIC republic, after all.” :) Maybe if more people remembered why they love America there would be less bickering. :)

        Like

  • sj

    Oh, Amy. This is a fantastic post. The best. I wish everyone would read this. Every single person. Thank you for pasting that poem, and thank you for saying this:

    I like to think that, for one day, we’re all just kids, looking up at the sky, oohing and aahing over the fireworks, bonding over the grill, basking in the sun and laughing and celebrating a group of traitors who’d had more than enough kowtowing to the man. I like to think of that.

    I’ll admit to being more than a little choked up as I write this.

    Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    I was gonna leave an insightful and thought-provoking comment but I’m all commented out. Happy anniversary!

    Like

  • dbgram

    Wow, thank you for helping me see the 4th of July in a whole new light! I appreciate your positive, enthusiastic view of the holiday so much. I think your forefathers (and foremothers) would be very proud :)

    Like

  • blogginglily

    I skipped the poem, but you had to know I would. I was trying to explain the whole idea of the revolution to Emma last night as we sat on the swings behind our house in the dark.

    Did you ever read “Founding Brothers”? Good book. The author does a really nice job impressing upon the reader the idea that the people doing the revolutionizing here understood very well that everything they were doing was TREASON! This was their country. And they were saying, “nah, we want to be our OWN country.” What a leap of faith! Who DOES that?

    Anyway, good stuff.

    I got lost sometime during the course of the discussion with Emma when she was asking about Kings and Queens and I was having trouble explaining how that all works. I was explaining, for example, that the Queen is married, but her husband isn’t King. And then I explained that when she dies (or turns the over the keys to the car) it’ll be King Charles, but his wife won’t be queen. And THEN I was saying that if he passes on the idea of kingship, or dies, it’ll pass to King William, and KATE won’t be Queen. At least I THINK she won’t be queen. And I couldn’t really explain WHY she would remain a Princess and not a queen. So I need Elaine to read this comment (or anyone who knows) and explain it all to me as succinctly as possible.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      It’s a long poem. But it made me cry, so I had to include it. I loved it so much.

      No, I haven’t read that. Now I want to. I love history stuff. Which is funny, in school I liked it well enough, but I didn’t really connect to it. Now that I’m an adult, I can’t get enough of it.

      I’m not 100% on how the king/queen thing works, either. I tried researching it once, and you should have SEEN the page I found. It was possibly the most convoluted, longest list of rules I’ve ever seen in my life. Family trees and lineage and marriage and WHOA.

      Like

  • Kris Rudin (@krisrudin)

    Amy, that was a great post! I can get kinda misty & sentimental on the 4th, too, but you said it better than I could!

    And – AWESOME POEM. Thanks for sharing it! I learn a lot from reading your blog, and not just about Ding Dong Joe!! ;-)

    Like

  • lynnettedobberpuhl

    I needed that. Yesterday (the Fourth) I watched the musical 1776 on TV, which made me laugh so hard in the stupid parts and the funny parts. Later when the family was setting off illegal fireworks in the street in front of our house after eating hot dogs, I quietly sang The Star Spangled Banner to myself and got a little choked up. Your post lifted my (iffy and somewhat jaded) patriotism to a higher level.

    Like

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