This year I celebrated the 4th much differently than last year. Last summer, I celebrated it much differently than I had the previous 5 summers. I guess that's change for you.
For the most part I enjoyed myself, although I was in a very strange mood (I think I'm just tired) and probably not all that happy.
It started poorly because I woke up at 3am wide awake (I went to bed at 9, which is actually my normal bedtime here in California because of getting up soo early) and couldn't fall back asleep. Eventually I did around 5 and woke up for real about 8.30. Then I bummed around on the internet for several hours, catching up on a lot of things and generally just enjoying being alone. I went to the grocery store and successfully biked home with a bag of groceries on my back (oh, the small accomplishments in life :) ).
In the afternoon Karen and I went over to Meryl and John's place. I really enjoy their company, although I am the odd one out in my age range. All the people there are either young grandparents or aunts & uncles in their 50s and 60s, young parents in their really late 20s/early 30s, or little kids under 4. So I don't really fit in anywhere with people my age, but I definitely enjoy talking with the grown ups. They know a lot and have interesting stories to tell.
I left for Andrew's party around 5.30pm. The Strand wasn't too bad until I hit El Porto. Then there were a lot of people, but it just kind of felt like any other Saturday afternoon down there. Then I actually hit Manhattan Beach and it was crazy. So many people everywhere! And no one looking to make sure bikes weren't coming. Bikes totally own the bike path, not the pedestrians! Silly peds. It only got worse. I got off the Strand like 20 blocks north of the Hermosa Pier because I just couldn't take it. Crowds of drunk people clogged the path and the beaches were packed. (Unlike in the Midwest, our weather here yesterday was absolutely gorgeous and perfect: sunny and mid-70s and a slight breeze.) I hate large crowds of people when I don't want them around (some exceptions: concerts and amusement parks), and I really hate crowds of drunk people. Like, just despise. So I was not in a particularly good mood with not being able to ride my bike more than 6 inches at a time, and switching to the street is scary when you know half the people driving are probably drunk too, and would think it's a fun game to see if they can hit you on your bike. Luckily, nothing happened. I even saw my friend Mallory which was just crazy. What are the odds of that??!
I made it to Andrew's at about 7, much later than I anticipated (I was hitting 15-18 mph on the bike before Manhattan Beach). The party was pretty fun. I met a lot of people I didn't know before and that always makes me happy. We watched fireworks on the beach. It's hard to beat watching fireworks go off over the ocean, especially when you can see about 7 shows up and down the coast.
Afterward I biked home, although many people wanted me to stay at the party, but I was not really in the mood to party and I was tired. The ride home went without incident (although there were still a ton of people around, even at 10.30pm) but I didn't get the calmness that I was longing for with a bike ride by the ocean under the stars. It should have been really nice but I think I was still too strung out from all the drunk people and being on high alert for any attackers or anything like that. I may take a nice long ride up north to Pacific Palisades and hang out at Will Rogers State Beach this afternoon. I just kind of want to be by myself for a while! I usually feel this way after trips with groups. I am so used to being able to get away on my own that when I can't for several days I start going a little crazy :) DePauw is wonderful for this. Feel like being alone? Go take a walk to the park and you've got it. Love it.
Russia stories coming soon, I promise. I'm going to experiment with taking this netbook baby on my ride and writing on the beach. My dad has all my pictures right now so I've got to wait until he uploads them to put them with my posts, which I would rather do than just have text. You might notice there are no pictures from the 4th here -- I generally don't take my camera with me to parties and also both of my cameras seriously suck in darkness, so I didn't feel like lugging either of them around last night.