Thursday, July 3, 2008

Homesick on the 4th of July

According to Mapquest, I’m about 2002.4 miles to the Granville Street Fair. Unless Doc Brown shows up with his DeLorean, it looks like its going to be impossible for me to go this year, and I have to admit, it really bums me out.

The 4th of July is, no joke, my favorite holiday. It doesn’t have any of the stress associated with Christmas or Valentines Day, its right in the middle of the summer, so we’re most likely to have nice weather. Most importantly though, we take a day off to celebrate America by having barbecues with friends, listening to live music, and blowing stuff up. What could be better than that?

And growing up, nobody did the 4th of July better than little ol’ Granville. For one week, the major question of the Granvillian teenager, what are we going to do to tonight?, was solved. We are going to go downtown, we are going to hang out with our friends, and we are going to eat fried things. The fair didn’t lose much importance after I moved out of Granville to go to school either, as it allowed me to reconnect with all the people I missed over the school year. Plus, seeing Broadway lit up with the lights of the carnival rides and games looked like a scene straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting…you don’t get any more small-town Americana than that.

There are two events in our celebration that I’m going to miss the most. One is the Firecracker Five. I ran my first race the summer after my senior year in high school. I thought I was in pretty good shape for that first race, but I remember eating quite a bit of humble pie, as I was passed by 11 year olds and 60 year olds alike. Despite my poor showing, I enjoyed the experience, and vowed to run again the next year to do better. No matter how poorly you do, there is still quite a sense of accomplishment after you complete the morning ordeal. I thoroughly enjoyed having the following convocation with my peers that entire day:

Me “So, what did you do this morning?”

Friend “uh, I slept in.”

Me “Oh, that’s nice. I ran a 5 mile race.” (flexes a little)

As long as my friend hadn’t actually competed in a triathlon or cured cancer or something, I could feel smug for day.

In November of 2006, I had a fairly traumatic knee injury. Damage was done to soft tissue in both of my knees, and I walked with a limp for a few months. As I underwent painful physical therapy that winter, I was encouraged to set some kind of performance related goal (I want to not walk like Dr.House by April, for example). My goal was to run in the Firecracker 5 that July, which turned out to be pretty ambitious. It wasn’t easy, but that July, there I was, getting my butt kicked on Pearl St, with two athletic knee braces on. My time wasn’t anything to write home about that year, but I never felt prouder crossing that finish line. Not only is a the race a fun competitive exercise, but to me, its also a symbol of conquering adversity.

The other thing I’m really going to miss (even more than deep fried Oreos), is the live music, both as a performer, and as a fan. One of my first formative memories as a musician came at my first street fair as a Granvillian, when I was in 8th grade. I came to see some of my classmates, who had formed the band “Sons of Liberty”, play one of the early timeslots. Sure, the crowd consisted mostly of middle schoolers and immediate family of the performers, but my classmates were up on a real stage, with real lights, playing (mostly) real rock music! The idea that such an event could be accessible to my peers meant that it could be an attainable goal for me as well.

And it was, and for many of my other fellow young musicians. You’d hope to get your start playing one of the early afternoon slots, and if you were good, or brought in lots of people, you might make the big time, and headline one of the nights. I played in a ton of smaller bands in high school, but making that stage was always the top goal. Licking County kind of has a dearth of legit performing opportunities for young people (actually, make that everybody), which only enhanced the glow of those summer lights.

Last year, I finally got that opportunity with Aces High, and I have to admit, it was everything I had hoped it would be. The lights were bright, and there were people filling every bleacher seat, and then some. Some were folks I had never met before, but many more were old familiar faces, which is a great comfort when you’ve been bounced around as much as I have. We’ve had the opportunity to perform at perhaps some more prestigious events, but personally, I’ve never enjoyed playing anywhere more than in front of my hometown friends at the Granville Street Fair. Plus, last year, Granville music legend John Krumm played with us. How cool is that? I humbly submit it is very cool.

Aces High should be starting their set this year in a few hours, and I find myself roughly 2000 miles away here in Tempe Arizona, where I’ll be attending a different street fair. I’m sure there will be fireworks, and live music, and fried things. Some of those fried things may even taste better than what we have back home….but it won’t be the same.

Enjoy the festival this year everybody, and have a safe and happy 4th of July.

1 comment:

Deb Mashock, M.A. said...

Hey, love reading of one of your formative memories as a musician. I also am impressed by and appreciate your perseverance through the painful knee injury! :-)

Deb Mashock, M.A.
Counselor to Musicians & Bands, Seattle