It was the day we’d all come together in Martha’s Vineyard for. After five years straight of July 4th spent abroad followed by a stateside one stunted by a storm, I was back in the USA ready to give one of my favorite holidays (who am I kidding… they’re all my favorite holidays!) another shot. Our kicking crew of nine was ready to get this flag wavin’ party started.
We started the day strong. While the “grown ups” of the group slept in, the “kids” drove down to State Beach for a stand up paddle yoga class, one of many amazing yoga offerings on the island. We’d actually planned to take a class earlier in the week but got rained out — while it was a little tight to do it on the actual fourth of July, it was well worth the early wake up call.
Afterwards, we rushed back to the house to get ready for the charming little parade around the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association in Oak Bluffs. While the day’s big fancy parade takes place in Edgartown, we wouldn’t trade our sweet little neighborhood version for anything.
Unfortunately, I report with a heavy heart that I lost all of my Canon dSLR photos from this morning. Somehow, I never copied them over onto my laptop, and breezily deleted them from my memory card just days before realizing my enormous error. Lots of tears and hard drive combing and data recovery software later, I accepted that my sweet family candids and adorable Tucker portraits were gone. I was able to cobble together a few iPhone photos from the rest of the crew, and you can always peek at last year’s photos too.
Post-parade, we retreated to the house for brunch and a patriotic nap (it’s like a regular nap, but you dream in red, white, and blue and snore the Star Spangled Banner.) When half of us found ourselves awake a short while later, we decided to sneak out and let those still snoozing rest peacefully. A simple grocery run quickly morphed into a group field trip to a destination I’d long been hoping to tick off my Martha’s Vineyard list — Island Alpaca Farm!
Though it’s been a decade or two since my last alpaca themed birthday (if you think I’m kidding, my mom has a twelve pound family photo album that proves otherwise), I would still consider myself quite the fan of these South American mammals. While wandering the farm, Ian and I regaled my family of tales of our seperate travels to Peru, land of the abundant alpacas — I swear I saw a few of them look up with alarm when we admitted to trying the steak — and we cracked up watching these awkward creatures go about their days.
I’m sure this won’t be my last stop here. Future visitors to the island, consider this a potential addition to my itineraries for you! (The $5 admission fee is a little womp womp, but what can you do — it is Martha’s Vineyard.)
Me and my aunties
Back at the house, things started to get a bit silly. My attempt to get a festive portrait with Tucker for my Wanderland social media accounts erupted into a family-wide photo shoot with as many outtakes as final framers. Wine may have been involved.
Eventually, we all gathered for a big feast where we took a Thanksgiving tradition of rattling off lists of things we’re grateful for and gave it a patriotic twist, listing off reasons we love ‘Merica (this was a major test for Ian, who hails from our neighbor to the north.) We spend a lot of time bitching and moaning about political foolishness, corporate greed, consumer culture, and Kardashians, so it was kind of nice to get some unbridled flag waving going.
After dinner, it was finally time for the fireworks show I’d waited six years to see!
Now, pause for a moment of real talk. With all this talk lately of social media and blogging not being authentic, I’m conscious as ever of portraying myself and my life as picture-perfect. I love my family more than pretty much anything on this planet (but please don’t bring Nutella into this ranking, that’s just cruel) and when I write posts about our time together, they come off as rose-colored as my memories of time with them always is. It’s an accurate portrayal of the way I feel about these very amazing and special people. But it’s probably not an accurate portrayal of the usual day-to-day hurt feelings, petty fights and general drama that we along with most families on this planet deal with. I don’t write that because I love to air dirty laundry (that’s what washing machines are for), I write it because I know that I along with so many others can be guilty of comparing the highlight reel of someone else’s life with the behind-the-scenes of my own, and I would never want to make someone else feel bad about their family situations by zippily presenting mine to be some kind blissful made-for-tv musical of domestic joy (though we do sing a lot).
So anyway, I could post some amazing fireworks photos and tell you that Ian and Janine and I had a great time traipsing over to Edgartown to see them, and that would be true. But if I told you that the big moment was magical, and my Fourth of July was non-stop fun, that would be a lie. The truth is, I choked back tears several times that day, and really let them rip as we watched the sky explode in light and color. The truth is, my sister and I were at each other’s throats for reasons I now struggle to remember, and my mom and I were in our second of two enormous blow up fights of the week. The truth is, I was shattered that no one in my family wanted to watch the fireworks with me — I didn’t want to leave them for the night when we have such little time together (especially my cousin and aunts), but I couldn’t imagine letting the night pass without this ritual I love so much. Not to mention, I felt funny hosting two visitors and not bringing them to the fireworks — it kind of felt like inviting someone for Thanksgiving and then telling them that you weren’t really into the big meal and dinner would be takeaway chinese food. I know it’s selfish, but I wished that considering how much this holiday meant to me and how rarely I experience it — and how rarely we are all together! — my family would have joined me for a few hours of fireworks-y fun. But behind the beautiful photos and peppy blog posts, that’s real life, and mine is as rife with petty drama as anyone’s.
But damn — weren’t those fireworks beautiful?
We woke up feeling a little tender after a silly night of fun on Circuit Avenue, which included the handing out of red, white and blue jello shots to fellow revelers waiting in line to get into packed bars. But we had the perfect hangover plan: brunch.
First, we had to say a sad goodbye to my aunts Linda and Karen. I hate saying goodbyes without knowing when and where I’ll see someone again, and this was one of those situations. After walking them over to the ferry, we found ourselves up against a long wait for a table, even with a slightly more reasonably sized party. We put our names down and considered our options for killing time. Looking up, I laid eyes on one of Oak Bluffs most infamous landmarks, and marched our group inside.
The Flying Horse Carousel is America’s oldest operating platform carousel, and was a staple of my childhood visits to the island. At $2.50 per ride, it’s a bargain — and a great photo op.
That said, perhaps a rotating carousel was not the number one smartest move for three people suffering from post-revelry nausea.
Brunch was worth waiting for. At this point, I was a devoted fan of 20byNine as a bar and as a dinner spot. But they were about to win me over on a whole new level. A small outside patio, breakfast cocktails, a menu with no misses and friendly service from the staff? My favorite Oak Bluffs eatery can do no wrong. (Stay tuned for one last post from the island later this week — a roundup of my favorite restaurants!)
It was the perfect send off to a beautiful week. See you next summer, Martha’s Vineyard!
Goodbye MV! Next stop, Boston…
If you’d like to see Martha’s Vineyard through my eyes, my family’s historic Oak Bluffs gingerbread cottage is available for weekly rentals. We renovated each room by hand and I’d love to share its magic with you!