With each explosion of fireworks, Lala, our dog, presses harder against me, and I feel her trembling. She doesn’t understand there’s a celebration going on and no one’s really bombing us.

Our dog isn’t the only one who struggles; I’m told the neighborhood’s many canines quake in their coats around this time each year, sometimes even refusing to step paw outside to answer nature’s call. They’re free to go out, of course, but to them, the pyrotechnics in the night sky signal sure terror, and the endless pops imprison them in fear inside their houses.

Unlike Lala, I know I’m free. And I’m free in more ways than I live.

Freedom frames my thoughts as I drive east on Dowling Avenue, pointed toward the grocery store where I’m free to spend my money how I like before it closes early for the July holiday. On my way, I pass a house where several large tents festoon the side yard. Ribbons of smoke curl skyward from two grills. A tall slim man approaches one of them and maybe he’s holding a spatula, but who cares, because he’s dressed in exactly two clothing items: a red Speedo and an American flag worn as a cape. Husband’s at work, but I have to phone him this minute anyway, because the brand of freedom I just witnessed should be shared with others.

As I drive on, I count my freedoms on Independence Day, and like the sighting of the guy in the Speedo, they surprise me:

I’m free to live a life that doesn’t look like the next person’s.

I’m free to do the right thing, even when it's hard.

I’m free to serve others more than I do.

I’m free to keep the words that are in my head out of my mouth.

I’m free to not worry today. Or tomorrow.

I’m free to tell people I love them, even when it’s likely they won’t return the sentiment.


How are you free?


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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.