When my sister and I were really young, we dressed up as barbies for the 4th of July to participate in the local parade close to my grandma’s summer house.
My grandma had an old, beautiful run-down home on the Connecticut sound, nestled in the woods of a suburban neighborhood. We would go every summer when I was young, reuniting with the larger extended unit, my cousins and me all in our suits with our buckets and pales. Our old foldable stollers were stored every winter in the shed, covered in cobwebs and stained from the sun, ready to bring us down the hill to the beach each year.
The town was well-to-do. My grandparents were part of the country club by the beach, which had a pool right next to the water. There were boat shoes and fancy yachts, manicured lawns and well-maintained pathways along the water, each house flying their own American flag.
Back then, my mom had a hairstyle she did for us called “the gonzo”. We would throw our heads upside-down and she would scrunchy it up on the very top, the bumps from stray stands as part of our look. For our parade day ensembles, the gonzo felt like the appropriate compliment to our Barbie motif. We paired the outfits with belly-exposing bright pink t-shirts, little white skirts, and some hot pink lipstick purchased from the dollar-store in the rougher, other part of town.
Emerging to debut our looks for the 4th of July parade, amongst the fancy golf men in their boat shoes and the classy women in their visors, my dad met us in the crowd, and raised his eyebrow at my mom. All the other kids were appropriately dressed in red, white and blue themed attire that seemed both modest and high-end. We were the hot pink hookers.
And we walked that parade with confidence and with joy, our heads held as high as our hair.
For all my country’s faults (of which, I admit, there are many), there is still something special about America. Individuality can still be celebrated in a way that doesn’t always agree with the “doe normaal” I struggle with here, in my new home country. In my memories, in America, there are still opportunities to be unapologetically unique and unapologetically yourself.
So I say, for this Fourth of July, let’s celebrate that. Make an entrance. Show up in pink when everyone else is wearing blue. Be fabulous, be loud, be your own version of patriotic, whatever that means.
And for everyone out there feeling different than the rest, happy 4th of July!