This is one of my favorite weeks of the entire year. It ranks right up there with Christmas, and My Birthday Week. Independence Day, Fourth of July, the halfway point of summer ... good times, for sure.
It dates back to my childhood, when the neighbors would host a huge block party and everyone would come together for potato salad, relishes, deviled eggs and Toots' famous fruit salad. We'd graze all day long, play games on the grass and as the sun dipped into the horizon we'd light sparklers and shoot off fireworks while Mom played vinyl recordings of Sousa marches on the stereo, the speakers propped up in the windows so we could all hear.
As I got older, it became a time of road trips with friends or vacations with family. It was always different, but it was always wonderful. There is magic to this time of year, if you ask me. There was the time Kelly, Patrick, Kristi and I piled into Patrick's two-door Escort and followed a battery in the area surrounding Black Earth, Wisconsin. There was the weekend I met my ex, which was a great weekend even though it resulted in heart-shattering love. There was the blistering sunburn from a canoe trip that wouldn't end, Disney World with the family, and South Haven, Michigan with my family who isn't my family.
This year I'm staying home, curling up with friends, taking the train into Chicago and letting the magic happen. With each year, I get a little further away from the fragile girl who once loved an unworthy boy and get a little closer to the strong woman who can kickbox with the best of 'em and still cries at that one Folger's commercial where the older brother comes home from college at Christmas.
Last year at this time, Chris was filing the divorce papers. This year, I'm a happy divorcee, with so much love in my life I can't even begin to measure it. It's a holiday week, stretching out before me, waiting for me to dive in.