Anyone who really knows me, knows that I am a city girl. Growing up in Denver does that to you. Hashtag Denver pride. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the mountains and chilling out for a while-but for a while-not a lifetime. I will never live in an area where the ratio of animals outweighs the ratio to people. I also put Republicans in the non-people category. They are animals after all. However, when you have family members who you love (or have learned to or are forced to) that live in a small town, you make the annual holiday commutes. I can tolerate a week, but no more. The city is my hood. Neighborhood that is. So after being told that we were going to celebrate the fourth this year in Wyoming, I held back my groans and rallied. What a trooper.
I think my biggest problem with small town’s is that the only time I have been to them in the past eighteen years is for Christmas and Thanksgiving, which happen to be the worst time to go to a small town. Mostly because the weather is awful and your stuck under a roof with all your family, and all there is to do is eat and watch movies. Although, I do love me some pumpkin pie and Christmas cookies.
The morning of our road trip started off not that great. Per usual. As we were about to put my cat in her kennel, she decided to escape outside. Stupid cats and their sixth sense. She saw the luggage and knew she would have to be in a car. That, or she too doesn’t like Wyoming. She is my daughter after all. Two hours later, we finally captured her in our neighbors yard hiding under a ceramic pot. She thinks she is just so clever. Nice try.
Finally, we headed out the door like a herd of turtles. My family has never exactly been known for being on time. Ask any of our friends. They have learned that six pm could mean six thirty or maybe six forty-five, if we have to like empty the dishwasher or walk the cat around the block. Only important things make us late. We are always running fashionably late regardless of anything. We even are on our friend’s daughters wedding video because we ran into the tent (outdoor wedding) right before the bridal procession. Shout-out to Sue G.
The actual Fourth of July started with my waking to my cat literally jumping on my bladder at full throttle wanting to eat her breakfast. She is the only morning person/cat in the family. After feeding her and myself (human food for me) I decided to start putting my Fourth attire on. It was a costume really that only got worse or better depending on how you look at it. It started with my black hair being put in black pigtails followed by bright red lipstick, an American flag bandanna on my head a la Rambo, white shorts, white top, black Converse, red/white/blue plaid shirt and the most outrageous red sunglasses that look like two mouths complete with little teeth. I have literally no clue where I got them, but have been wearing them ever since. I mean, wouldn’t you? You can say that I was feeling a tad patriotic. I could tell that both of my family members were a little embarrassed that they were going to be seen with me all day. You know what, pause, they have both done sooo many things to embarrass me my entire life so they deserve a little payback. I mean just picture those two in Mexico with some mojitos in them trying to speak Spanish to everyone. It’s not a pretty picture and I am pretty sure they are the sole reason for the failure of American-Mexican diplomacy.
After finally making it out of the door, we headed to the local town park a few blocks down to partake in celebrating the day with the citizens of Laramie. The whole town came. All 200 of them. That is a joke. Laramie is actually a bustling college town with tens of thousands of citizens. I guess only the patriotic 200 decided to show up. After arriving at the park, we met up with my two other favorite small town citizens who I have known forever and spend every Christmas Eve with. I shall call them the Jones to protect their very high-profile lives. I wouldn’t want them ending up in witness protection because of me.
Papa Jones, who is one my favorite people was wearing a skin-tight maroon shirt that made my eyes bulge and brain cry a little bit. He informed me it was an ideal temperature shirt and kept you not too hot and not too cold. I informed him that he wasn’t Goldi Locks and that I could see his nips. His wife aka Mama Jones thought it was funny. We then decided to go listen to the patriotic jams of a couple at the band stand jamming out on their banjos and tambourines. I naturally got way to bored just sitting and got up and dragged the male Jones to go with me to get a free shaved ice sponsored by the Kiwanis club of Laramie. Strawberry and blue raspberry shaved ice further completed my patriotic tongue giving me a blue tongue a la Miley. Even my mom made a Miley reference to me. Yikes. She later made a different Miley reference that made me question my entire life’s purpose. Wait for it.
Wanting to walk around, I stole my cousin dog and decided to go walk around the park and check out all the festivities. It turns out that Wyoming is a fairly religious state. Or at least that’s what I assumed after visiting a literal twenty religious tents that all gave me a bottle of water with a bible verse or Jesus fish glued on the bottle. At least god didn’t want me to get dehydrated that day. The highlight though was when the Baptist church made me a Native American headdress. I mean, could life have gotten any stranger at this point? The Baptist church of Wyoming make an Asian-American a Native-American, Fourth-of-July headdress. Is this real life? I also turned one of the construction paper headdresses into a skirt and made my cousin dog put one on too. She was not happy to say the least. I guess Lucille doesn’t like dress up. Maybe she felt self-conscious. Dogs. After I finished my tour of the religious groups, (of which none tried to convert me) I then proceeded to go to all the political booths where citizens were running for city council or those other really important positions. They also were giving away free watermelon which is suspicious considering Laramie is about as white as it gets. That was a joke. I told several of them that I would not be able to vote for them because I fortunately was a Coloradan. State pride. I eventually found my way back to my posse and we decided to go get the free ice-cream sponsored by some retirement group. When I was line I literally ran into the largest dog in the universe. It was a malamute who lived on a farm with his cowboy owner. The literal size of a small horse. They don’t grow like them this in Colorado!
After listening to some more music from some town locals at another bandstand, we decided it was time to head home. Damn’t, I wanted to pie my family in the face or at least dunk them in the massive tank. I know Lucille was sad she couldn’t participate in the dog trick show. I am sure her svelte body would have been great at weaving through all the obstacles. At least that’s what I told myself. My mom and Aunt (aka the Bopsie twins) decided to do more small talk with people, while I walked myself and the dog home. It was an exhausting afternoon. I can’t hang like I used to.
Later that night after we had finished demolishing a pork tenderloin, we decided to sit around and watch some special program on TV located in DC before we headed to watch the fireworks. It was a singing concert near the Lincoln Memorial. I am not even joking when my mom looked at the television and immediately found someone in the audience of thousands that she thought she knew only five seconds later. She thought that she saw my friend Meggan’s head behind Jordin Spark on the stage. How. I don’t why I believed her. But, I did text my friend right away who informed me that she was at the event but didn’t even know Sparks was singing. What a plot twist let down. I then went back to the guest room to zone out and take a break from my mother’s intensity. She get’s way too excited way to easily. Kinda like a hamster.
I think my mom missed me, because she decided to scream through the wall that she saw my friend….again. Being gullible, I jumped up and ran into the living room where I was informed that she was “just joking.” You don’t joke about that mom! Bad mom! I can’t believe I fell for that. Do I have gullible written on my forehead? Apparently so. That, or my mother is easily amused. Probably both if were being honest.
The three of us and Princess Lucile then headed out to our friends house to watch the fireworks. By friends I mean the Jones and my cousin’s Dad who is awesome. Growing up he has always found it fun to pull my leg and mess around with me. That and he always has bubblegum at his house and who doesn’t love mushy, chemical pink stuff. We arrived, late shockingly and had to sprint up the hill outside their backyard. All I was thinking is that this was the start of a horror movie. Me, climbing a hill, in a small town, it’s dark, I don’t have pepper spray (although I did take a female empowerment class as a teen after my mother’s insistence) and I am going to die. It turned out I didn’t. Die that is. Although it was very noticeable to me that I was the youngest person there by at least forty years. Lordy. And I was the one telling them to behave. Typical old people, typical me. Always the voice of reason, even if it is ignored.
The fireworks were amazing. It was Wyoming. Literally after crossing the Colorado border into Wyoming you start seeing the firework outlet exit signs. Not even a minute into Wyoming and they are already telling you to go blow stuff up. And you wonder why Wyoming citizens are they way they are. Hashtag republicans. I felt bad watching the fireworks because I’m sure I supported killing at least three penguins in Alaska by default of not doing anything to protest the fireworks from happening. Passive aggressive global warming is not the worst thing I have been accused of. We then decided to head back to the house and enjoy some rhubarb-strawberry crumble on the front porch. Because it is Wyoming, people continued to set off their own fireworks in the neighborhood and around town. From the porch I could see the entire town. Not really, but it is small town Wyoming. Papa Jones decided to loudly shout out to the troublemakers that he was going to call the popo. I’m pretty sure his three boys did that all the time growing up. Setting off illegal fireworks that is. I died laughing because Papa Jones doesn’t scare me one iota. He is more of a talk loudly and carry a small stick kinda guy. Theodore Roosevelt anyone?
Later that night back at the house, my mother and Aunt decided to continue drinking wine. Typical night. I think they believe that since red wine is so sophisticated, it somehow doesn’t effect them. The very fact that they think red wine is sophisticated is proof that it already has done irrevocable damage. And since they had stocked up on Trader Joes two-buck-chuck wine, they were doing damage. Not to their wallets, but to their livers. I tried to discourage it because I am not about to donate part of my liver in the future. I was adopted so I wouldn’t even be a match. Hashtag perks of not being a blood relative. My liver is going to stay perfectly in tact.
I decided to call it a night and hit the hay until I heard them talking through the thin walls. My Aunt literally told her cat “Hola Mancha, do you want some agua.” My mouth dropped. The cat does not speak Spanish let alone English. My Aunt also does not speak Spanish, but get a little liquor in her veins and she is basically fluent. That’s the way we all with language really, except for our native language. Funny how that works. Alcohol allows us to speak different languages (some made up) really well, while our first language fails so miserably. “Guys, I no dwunk, I pwomise, I only had like nada.” My mother then decided to tell me that since we were sharing the guest room, I could be the teaspoon and she could be the tablespoon. Um, no. I then went out to try to sleep on the couch where I was smothered by a cat. Love going to my Aunt’s house. Needless to say, I did not get that great of a night of sleep.
The next morning we decided to go for a long hike in Vedavoo, which is a nationally renowned rock climbing area. Literally it is in the middle of just a bunch of rolling hills. I guess God decided that Wyoming was lacking in other areas and wanted to bring more tourism in. And on the fifth day he made Vedavoo, so that people would actually want to come to Wyoming. I was concerned about going on the three mile loop hike considering that I was the only fully put together human that didn’t have replaced parts. My Aunt and mom each have one replaced hip, with my mom also having a replaced knee. I think that’s cheating. None of my part’s are replaced. Hmph. Anyway, the hike was great despite the fact that my Aunt’s dog Lucille is attached to my Aunt at the hip (not her replaced one). That dog is obsessed with her and can’t walk five feet away without having an anxiety attack. Dogs. I tried to scare both of them by walking ahead and climbing a high rock, then screaming a la Tarzan and Jane as they walked by from high above. They were less than amused. I thought it was funny.
A little side story that just makes me cringe every time I think about it, is when my mother asked my where my wrecking ball was. This is the second Miley reference. I had put my hair in high buns on top of my head because it was so bloody hot out, and apparently the mother had been keeping up on pop culture and thought I looked like Miley. That was a mid-life crisis moment for me. At least I wasn’t wearing a nude leotard and grinding up all on little people and giants on a stage in front of thousands. Someone obviously did not get enough attention as a child.
After returning from our hike later that day, I was still feeling the patriotic rush running through my veins and decided to make an American flag cake with the help of Betty Crocker. Love that girl. My gurl Betty C. Four hours later, way too much food dye, a mess of a kitchen, and way to much raw batter consumed, I had myself a layered cake with cream cheese frosting. When you sliced into it, it literally looked like an American flag with the little patch of blue in the corner and red and white stripes. It was a masterpiece. I delivered slices around the neighborhood and town to friends. They were impressed. Cleaning the kitchen took about the entire night. Not a fan of cleaning. Who is. This was our last hoorah before closing the weekend and heading back to civilization. AKA Denver.
I know it sounds like I didn’t have all that great of a time, but I really did. The only time small towns are all that appealing is for Fourth of July celebrations and when you need to hide out from society. I mean, no one is going to go looking for you in a town the size of a pimple. So dearest Aunt, I will try to stop making fun of you for living in such a small town because I now have figured out the appeal. Free ice-cream and snow cones are amazing. But really, you won’t see me moving their anytime soon, but I will be coming to visit more often. Just what you always wanted dear Aunt. More of me. Get ready.