Monday, July 9, 2012

Freedom in the Big Apple


The beach is the place to be on the 4th of July, and New York City is no different. I didn't even know that they had beaches in New York City until all of the people I was visiting mentioned the fact that they were going to the beach. I sort of figured that the ocean around NYC is dirty and cold and rocky and full of metal, but that is not entirely the case. What was the case, however, is that the entirety of NYC attempts to go to the beach on the 4th of July, and it was PACKED.

I found it ironic that on the day that represents independence and “freedom,” people were tucking themselves into an 8x8 foot plot of sand amongst the crowds of towels and umbrellas, plunging into an ocean carefully so as not to run into anyone else, people so thick that you could not see the water from the land side of the beach. It was a bit claustrophobic for me, and after biking 5+ miles of beachfront bike path, packed to the gills, I was almost ready to leave without even dipping my toes in the water, but I'm glad that I did. It was cool and refreshing, and the ocean breeze felt nice. The new friend that I finally managed to meet up with had found a not-quite-so packed area of the beach, and we walked and talked and enjoyed the sunny day.

The other “freedom” irony that I found on fourth of July is that of Americans who call themselves patriots, and then try to pass laws based primarily on religious dogma, in a country which was settled by those escaping religious law. Tomorrow, I will visit Plymouth rock, where the Pilgrims of the Mayflower landed in 1620, after fleeing England in the face of a religious government. I feel that it will somehow mean quite a lot to me.

I sit aboard a ferry to the island of Martha's Vineyard. Yesterday, I kayaked and snorkeled with friends in Connecticut after another ferry ride from the tip of Long Island the day before. I spent a night in the middle of long island with a man who flagged me down on the side of the road, told me that he had a place for me to sleep for the night, and led to me to his home to meet his fiance. They were lovely hosts.

Since I last wrote, my carbon footprint has increased significantly due to a cross-country flight to see my family in California, whom I had not visited since I left last year on July 6. I spent 5 incredible days on the family houseboat on Trinity Lake in Northern California, had a dinner with old friends, and spent some quality time with the grandparents. I then flew to Minneapolis, MN for 5 days, and reconnected with the great friends that I now have there. It was en excellent, fulfilling and jam-packed trip of fun and hugs.

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