So it's July now and my time here in the States has moved along pretty quickly. The past three days were gloriously sunny and hot, hovering around 85 - 90 F (or 30 - 32C). Not to mention quite humid. I, therefore, took advantage of the heat and sun and laid out in my parents' pool each day for at least an hour. I must say my skin complexion looks much better now than the sickly white that it was before. I just love the hot summer weather. Alas, this morning it's thunderstorming and raining, so no sun for me today (which is probably good because I was beginning to get a minor sunburn).
This weekend is the most important weekend of the summer here in the U.S. It's 4th of July weekend! My city has the largest fireworks display in this region of the country. Last night I went to see them right downtown among the hundreds of thousands of people with my brother and my best friend here in Ohio. Our city calls it Red, White, & Boom. Last year at this time I was still living here and J had flown in to visit for several weeks in the summer on the day of Red, White, & Boom. I picked him up from the airport, we drove to my apartment, and walked downtown to watch the fireworks. Part of me can't believe it was a year ago that happened! In any case, last night was a lot of fun and I was happy to get to spend some time with my best friend, but even more so with my brother. I've been able to spend time with the friend a lot over my stay here, but I've barely been able to see my brother since he's been working so much.
Another part of the fireworks I reflected on was just how much the fireworks and this weekend means to the majority (or what seems like it) of people here in the States. Everyone comes together for our Independence Day and truly celebrates it. I was thinking back to just one month ago in Sweden and how the National Day there was barely celebrated at all. I saw some people with flags in their yards, maybe sitting out and cooking out. That was about the extent of their celebrations. I think our independence is still so recent and this country was founded upon a war of breaking free that it means that much more to people here. Looking around me last night during the National Anthem you could really tell everyone was coming together to celebrate the nation. I realized after living in Sweden and becoming a part of that culture, that the U.S. is unique in its way and I was glad to be able to genuinely take part in celebrating it last night. I just love how everyone does something to celebrate the 4th of July rather than just leaving it at having a day off work and maybe cooking out on someone's balcony.
This Monday is the actual 4th of July, and of course I'll be going over to my grandma's annual 4th of July get together (extended family included) where we all bring a dish of food and have a giant meal together. Then everyone just hangs around and catches up with what everyone else has been up to. I see these people only once a year, really, and if I had not managed to come home during the summer then I probably wouldn't have seen them at all this year.
Monday evening my best friend invited me to go with her and her mother in the evening to the local fireworks. The city of Columbus has a giant fireworks display, then all the suburbs and different areas of town have their own, smaller versions. They're always fun to go and watch, too. So this weekend will be filled with family, friends, fireworks, and food! No wonder so many people here love this weekend.
I haven't been up to much of anything else. Visiting with family and friends. Earlier this week I went to my other grandma's in Indiana to visit her for 2 days. It was good to see her. I've missed driving in the U.S., as much as I complained in my previous post. I miss the highways and higher speed limits, and the familiar roads where you can just zoom. Driving has always been my "happy place" as well. Whenever I'm behind the wheel with some good American radio on the speakers I am happy. So a good 2 1/2 hour drive there and another one back were great, especially in the beautiful weather we've had this past week.
A part of me has been missing Sweden, though. That bit grows more each day, but I also am trying to milk my time in the U.S. as much as possible. There are people here who matter a lot to me. I'll get to spend all the time I want with Sweden soon enough.