When I was little, the most exciting part of my summer was the neighborhood Fourth of July parade. Kids in the neighborhood were all invited to enter. We could decorate out bicycles in red, white, and blue tissue paper, with balloons and flags added for good measure. Or, if you were industrious, you could make a float out of your red flyer wagon. For the Halloween lover's you could dress up as well. There would be kids dressed like firecrackers, Uncle Sam, Betsy Ross, flags, even picnic tables. The parade route was a two block area that went down one rather steep hill on one side, and then up another hill on the other. In the middle was a judges stand, manned by neighborhood parents. Two days before the parade, a man, dressed in the obligatory holiday colors, drove through the neighborhood in his corvette convertible with a bull horn announcing the parade. "Come to the big parade," he would say for all of us to hear. "Come one, come all! Bring your bikes. Bring your floats. Come to the big parade." The morning of the parade he would make his rounds again saying the same thing, only adding that "today was the day!"
That little parade was the highlight of my summer. I remember decorating my bike. I remember dressing in red, white, and blue and roller skating the parade route. In that day, one didn't wear the nice in-line skates they have today. My skates were the old silver ones that clamped on over your shoes, the kind that adjusted with a skate key. One year two of my little girl-friends and I dressed up as ballerinas and joined the walkers in the parade. Every entry was judged and winners were presented with ribbons at the end. All participants got a Popsicle. I never won a ribbon. Always enjoyed the Popsicle. And found my excitement for next year's parade returned with the leaves every spring.
The night before the parade, I never slept well--too much excitement. I would be up before sunrise, sitting on the windowsill watching and waiting for the man in the corvette to come driving by, calling me to the parade. My stomach was a roller coaster of emotion, excitement, nervousness, fear. (What if I fell riding my bike down the hill?) I waited all summer for that parade, and there was always a sense of sadness when it was over.
I have repeated this pattern all my life. As a teenager, I couldn't wait to go to an Osmond concert. As a young adult, I couldn't wait to go to college, fall in love, get married. As a young married I couldn't wait to start a family. Once the family was started then I couldn't wait for the baby to walk, talk, start school. With all of those experiences, there was the great anticipation of the wait, the same butterflies in the stomach, then the wistfulness as it was all realized. What would be the next great thing to wait for?
Life has a way of providing the next great thing. Now that my family is nearly grown, of course, there is retirement to wait for and anticipate. On a smaller scale, I am currently waiting to hear from a publisher about my book, David's Song. One day last week, I opened my email to find a request from the publisher for an electronic copy of my work. They wanted to send it out to other reviewers. Of course I happily complied, sending out the copy that day. Now, here I sit, waiting. And the funny thing is, every morning as I open my email, I feel that same roll of the stomach that I felt as a kid the morning of the Fourth of July parade. Will it be good news? Will they say, "Thanks, but no thanks."? Either way, experience has taught me that there will be the same sense of wistfulness at the end. But life has also taught me, there's something else coming around the bend. I can get excited wondering about what it will be? Certainly it will be worth waiting for.