The victory of America’s freedom and her independence will be celebrated today, for many; it will be the culmination of summer. The Fourth of July is a time to reminisce but also, perhaps to relive one’s own childhood. I recall my father loading my brother and me into the car for the trip to the roadside fireworks stand. Roman candles, bottle rockets, and sparklers were all chosen with the promise to paint the night sky with bold, beautiful colors. We waited with anticipation, as the flame from the match would ignite the wick, propelling the firework into the sky. We watched in amazement as the magical little rocket majestically erupted and showered us with light, as if traveling through the Milky Way. Like a conductor, my sparkler illuminated notes in the darkness. As a child, I knew the Fourth of July commemorated the birth of America, but it would be years before I would come to understand its true meaning.
As I grew into adulthood, I found myself beginning to be consumed by the need to please others at the expense of my personal freedom. People began creating versions of me that I would strive to bring to life and maintain. Anticipating and fulfilling their needs, wants, and desires became my primary focus and created a path of least resistance for me. When living for others, the falsehood is that your happiness is dependent on theirs, risking the loss of yourself in the process. Fearful that I would be lost forever, I was desperately clinging to my true identity believing it would selfishly disappoint my family and friends to set myself free. No one would understand because from the outside, it appeared my life was complete with good health, beautiful children, a devoted husband, a nice home, and few financial worries.
My declaration of independence was not initiated by me, but by my husband’s transgression against our commitment. I stood at the proverbial fork in the road unsure which direction to take. I could continue life as if nothing happened and hide behind the façade of a perfect life living a different version of myself. Or I could pursue freedom, unleashing the honest version of myself knowing the possible collateral damage of divorce. In February 2010, I made the decision to file for divorce.
A few months later, my best friend and I were discussing life’s stresses, and how we could use a distraction. We decided to head west to Marfa, Texas to camp and celebrate the Fourth of July. Neither one of us had a clue how to camp, so it was more about the road trip to find new surroundings, even if for a brief moment. Anyone watching us attempt to pitch our tent would have found it hysterical. Even now I find myself laughing. We finished setting up camp, and with our new found Australian friends, we enjoyed whiskey in coffee mugs and debating the meaning of art. The evening of the Fourth, all of us gathered in the communal kitchen to prepare dinner. I had never experienced such unguarded intimacy as I did that night. We began as transients but became family united with unconditional acceptance of differences, and fighting for a common goal of freedom. All of us as artists, unified through mind, body and soul, formed a celestial constellation. Each of us sat at the table to break bread, recreating the artist’s rendition of the Last Supper. Yes, it was a spiritual evening. As the evening progressed, we relocated to the Marfa’s Mystery Lights Viewing Area hoping to experience the elusive lights. Gathered around, the guitar played by a few, each note released to heaven’s chorus, gave new meaning to church. That summer evening I experienced a baptism of courage.
July 4, 2010 was the beginning of my revolution; I am a soldier still battling for complete freedom.