Originally, I'd planned to go see the fireworks on the National Mall to celebrate my first summer back in a place that actually celebrates Independence Day. But between the weather (rainy), fear-mongering (~the terrorists have won~), and the opportunity to spend some time with family, I ended up heading for Annapolis, Maryland, instead.
So, the deal with my family... when most Americans talk about their cousins, I feel like they mean their first cousins. Meanwhile, I grew up knowing the difference between first cousins, second cousins, and first cousins once-removed simply because of my paternal grandfather's family. We've always made a point of getting together on a regular basis - maybe it's because we're close geographically, maybe it's because my Great-Grandfather grew up an orphan, or maybe it's simply because my Great-Aunt was an amazing lady who kept traditions going after my own grandparents died...
Anyway, my (first) cousin, her boyfriend, and I decided to go up to see our (second) cousin's band's reunion show. I'd seen them play a few years ago in New York, at Arlene's Grocery. For this gig, they were playing at the Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge in Annapolis. We showed up a few hours early, having planned on grabbing dinner first. The menu was great - I wanted to order everything on it - and the crowd was decidedly young.
The drinks menu looked incredible as well, but I decided to wait on cocktail hour and ordered a Riesling to go with my Banh Mi Fried Oyster Po' Boy.
Just as we finished up eating, the sounds of a drum corps echoed down the street. We'd timed it perfectly - Annapolis's 4th of July Parade was passing by. First came the uniformed police officers, then the Revolutionary-era fife and drum reenactors. The rest of the parade was an interesting mishmash you'd expect from small-town America, with a few surprises. The Tea Party float (windows of the truck whited out to protect the identity of the participants, I guess) was followed shortly by the local Muslim community center, passing out Statue of Liberty-style crowns. Not one, but two Bolivian dance troupes passed by. Not gonna lie, it made me a little verklempt - all of my favorite Independence Day celebrations have involved the idea that the United States of America does not operate in a void. Whether it's a demonstration of how inclusive we can be, or a reminder of how far we have to go, I feel like the day has a lot more meaning when it's not just cookouts and blowing stuff up.
Once the parade was over, we got rid of all the various swag we'd collected (mostly political brochures), kept our tiny plastic American flags, and headed down toward the harbor to grab our place for the fireworks.
As we walked, I was reminded of how ridiculously cute Annapolis is. While Baltimore serves up the 'mid-Atlantic port town'-vibe with a huge dose of gritty, Annapolis aspires to be a Ralph Lauren ad. Maryland's state capital (and temporary US capital for a hot second after the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783) is home to the US Naval Academy. The water is lined with yacht clubs instead of factories, and ascots and cigars are actually a thing with people under 50.
The three of us wandered for a bit, looking for the best place to view the fireworks, but ended up back on the Spa Creek Bridge. After mentioning drawbridges in my last post, I thought it was fun that I ended up chilling on one for a few hours. As we waited, a boat passed through, trapping the dude with his arms extended in the picture below, and his cowboy friend, on the opposite side from the rest of their party. It was fun to watch people scramble as the alarm sounded, then shuffle back into place once the bridge resumed position. (The guy in the control booth had a good laugh as well, between sips of coffee.)
As it grew dark, many small boats headed toward the mouth of the creek. Darkness fell, and a group of paddleboarders with lanterns took up their place nearby. And then it was time for the show. And while nothing can top this, it was alright. The boats sounded their approval during the best bits of the show.
Afterwards, we walked back to the Metropolitan for headliner of the evening - the Dirty Names. We were happy to see yet another of our (second) cousins there with a friend. I tried two of the signature drinks - both the vodka-cucumber and gin-watermelon combos were perfection, if a bit on the small side, given the price - and risked permanent damage to my eardrums for the sake of rock-and-roll. And if it wasn't the 4th of July I'd originally planned, it was almost enough to make this skeptic feel, "God bless America."