The memories are faint, partly because my early years in America were so traumatic, and I’ve worked hard to shut them out. There was a profound sense of being lost, which overtook me soon after our arrival in the country; it has faded over the years, but it has never left. The second striking and enduring sentiment was the drive to become American – to fit in, into my new forever country, America.
Our first Fourth of July celebration, my father reminded me, was at a cul-de-sac neighborhood barbecue with fireworks and all. Pure Americana. My father was invited by a coworker. Hamburgers and hot dogs were new foods to me. I liked them! And of course there was Coca-Cola; no, there wasn’t one with the name “Luma” on it; back then America had not fully succumbed to such individualism. Coke cans and bottles came in what today would be called “classic” labeling. I knew 7-Up and Coca-Cola because we had those in Iraq and Greece – and I loved them.
The years following were spent mostly picnicking at Laguna Beach in Orange County, Calif.; we would stay until dark and watch the fireworks. But the most memorable celebration of the Fourth of July was the year we received a free two-night stay at the Best Western on Lake Tahoe. My dad had gotten some kind of deal for buying a brand new Panasonic console TV. So we drove up to Lake Tahoe from Southern California and had our mini vacation. I still remember sitting on the beach of the lake watching the fireworks dance to the music blaring from the big speakers strewn across the sand.
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