Going 4th: Navigating life beyond breast cancer

FireworksAs I write this, I’m preparing for a trip to New York City to spend a few days with a childhood friend. She has had the good fortune to sublet an apartment in Brooklyn Heights for a couple of months, so we both thought this would be a great time for me to head east for a visit.

I haven’t been in NYC since November of 2000, which means I haven’t been in NYC since the twin towers were forever etched in our collective psyche. I am particularly excited about this trip because I will be there to celebrate our 4th of July holiday. It will feel very grown up to watch the fireworks (and all they symbolize) in a setting historically part of the original 13 colonies.

Living out here in laid back southern California, I’m well-versed in the ‘Old West’. Our 4th of July generally consists of heading to the beach for a BBQ, some volleyball, maybe a bit of Frisbee tossing, and then building bonfires and piling on blankets so we can ooh and ahhh at the pyrotechnic displays as they jump skyward, sparkle briefly and then glimmer their way to the ground.

I grew up in the Midwest, where the 4th of July generally meant spending the day at a State Park surrounded by my extended family, eating corn on the cob and watermelon, homemade favorites like baked beans and potato salad, fried chicken and always an array of pies and a chocolate cake. Our fireworks back then were a delight because they were accompanied by astonishing music. I remember being awestruck listening to the 1812 Overture while watching an explosion of red, white and blue light up the night sky.

I’m not sure exactly what to expect this 4th of July. I just keep thinking that NYC should definitely put on quite a show. I have no real frame of reference, so when people keep telling me that I should be able to stay in Brooklyn and see a fantastic fireworks display complete with the Brooklyn Bridge as a backdrop, I try to imagine what’s in store for me. I have to admit, I’m just a little bit nervous. I’m not a fan of big crowds, and I’m a total newbie when it comes to knowing how to navigate from Point A to Point B in the Big Apple (and beyond). I’ve promised myself that I’m going to take the subway from JFK to Brooklyn not only to save money, but to prove I really am a grown up. (I’ve also allowed myself the wiggle room to take a cab if I get overwhelmed!) I still find it amusing that I could navigate the ever-changing world of breast cancer like a champ and still be completely intimidated by life’s normal day-to-day challenges. This trip is also designed to help me work a bit on that as well.

I have to admit, I am also looking forward to spending some time shoulder-to-shoulder with complete strangers enthusiastically embracing an occasion that so vibrantly celebrates the essence of this great country. On the 4th of July I’m hoping, if only momentarily, to get away from all of the negative and forever spiraling political rhetoric and simply revel in what pulls us together … one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!

Be safe, have a fantastic holiday – and remember to wipe the remnants of that chocolate cake off your face!

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