As you may be aware I am currently in America for the summer, near Los Angeles to be more precise. I’m working at one of the many American summer camps and loving every second – it is an opportunity that has allowed me to see different facets of American life and culture (take note visa moderators) and meet some awesome people. Fourth of July was for me the pinnacle in this experience so far – I got to hang out with great new friends and enjoy the most American of American days.
I started the day at camp avoiding going to the beach. There was a mass exodus of staff heading for the ocean and I didn’t want to be dragged along for a day that would consist only of drinking and maybe going into the water. This left approximately 6 people who stayed behind. I actually really appreciate camp when it’s practically empty as it was on the Fourth – it’s so peaceful. It also means you can do things you wouldn’t usually be able (read: allowed) to do. This time, we got to drive the mule.
It is important to understand that only the most important people get to drive the mule. A little Kawasaki, driving this go-cart is a sign of prestige and a position of power. On the Fourth of July it was all ours. We drove around camp hyped up on adrenaline. We took it to the horses and got to feed and play with them. We visited the baby bunnies at ranch (taking many, many selfies). Half the day was spent revelling in our new found power.
The afternoon brought a trip to Target. I have been in the US for over a month, working for 6 weeks, meaning 6 weekends off. Last weekend was my first in which I didn’t visit Target. I went on the Fourth for my favourite snack America has been able to offer me, Pretzel M&Ms … and to my horror they were no longer being sold! Why am I telling you this? So if you know of somewhere (anywhere) in the Los Angeles area that sells these incredible sweets, please let me know. I’m in withdrawal and I’m getting desperate.
The evening brought my favourite bit of the day. Some friends and I headed to a school carnival paying $5 for admission; it was worth every penny (or cent, whichever. Still struggling with some language issues!) One Brit, one Aussie and 3 Americans: the Yanks helped us foreigners manage some dangerous terrain – what to eat. We eventually chose nachos and it was an inspired choice.
The admission ticket essentially paid for one of the best firework displays I have seen that hasn’t been televised: seriously, for a primary school it was really very impressive. Half an hour long and always awe-inspiring it was well worth the five bucks. We were also allowed to witness some brave employees of the sheriff department jump out of an aeroplane, one with a gay pride flag and another with (what else?) an American flag trailing behind them. It was awesome.
Speaking of the American flag, I think the Fourth of July may be one of the reasons America (at least on the surface) is so patriotic. After a day of fireworks, American anthems and classic tunes, and even a visit from a Californian congressman, even I was starting to feel a sense of American pride. There was a great energy and a sensation of national pride generated by the day that I have rarely felt in the UK outside of sports matches and the London Olympics. This is a day solely about America and this day (and the atmosphere) is duplicated every year. Speakers at the carnival repeated that America is the home of the best, the most incredible nation on earth, and you start to believe it. None of this is a criticism, just an observation. Either way, I truly enjoyed my first Fourth of July.
Edit: just a note to apologise about the formatting. I’m not sure how it looks for those with computers but on my phone it looks messy. Yet another reason I miss my laptop at camp – I have no idea how to work the WordPress app on my phone!