July 21, 2014

CAPE COD: A very hoppy Independence Day

To my favorite ex-pat,

The most wonderful time of the year has come again: the Fourth of July. ‘Tis a time for all Americans to reflect upon our struggle against the tyrannical, fun-hating Brits and congratulate ourselves on our pluck, diversity, ingenuity, and general awesomeness. 

As you well know, I have a big ‘ole crush on America. I love it. It’s a love affair that’s been going on since my birth on April 18th, the same day that 213 years earlier, Paul Revere rode into the night to tell everyone to stop instagramming and grab their guns ‘cuz the British were coming. I love me some amber waves of grain. I love the preamble to the Constitution. I love Abe Lincoln and the Grand Canyon and Sally Ride and Martin Luther King Jr. and Google. I even love (and am simultaneously repulsed by) the fact that we’ve invented cookie dough flavored oreos. #blessed

This year I honored our nation’s birthday by voyaging back to the beginning of it all: Massachusetts. Since no major American holiday would be complete without the prevalence of booze (18th Amendment be damned!) here lies my latest tale of life, liberty, and the pursuit of hoppy-ness…

Everything the light touches Simba...

Cape Cod. Acting all quaint and cute since 1602.

As you know, this Masshole loves nothing more than a sea breeze in my hair, a nice summer brewski, and destroying a lobster with my bare hands. My journey home to ever-classic Cape Cod for the holidays was accompanied by my festive crew of hooligans. Friends from across the country travelled far and wide to party the weekend away at our house, which sits a mere half hour from the real live Plymouth Rock (someday I shall show you some very embarrassing photos from our first visit to Plymouth, whereby my Mother insisted on dressing us all up in full colonial garb - even the dogs. Even. the. dogs.). While the Wampanoag tribe - the Native Americans who saved the day in the first Thanksgiving - is based just down the road, the Kennedy compound is a quick drive away in Hyannis Port. Factor in the Cape Cod Beer factory and the Obamas vacationing on the Vineyard across the way, and you’ve got a recipe for the quintessential American holiday.

The key to Cape living is simple: Wake up, put on your bathing suit, and begin to drink Sam Summers. When you run out of Sam Summers, supplement with a Cape Cod Red, the smooth flagship ale of the Cape Cod Beer collection. If you get hungry, find a lobster to kill. Now go jump in the ocean. Sleep. Sunscreen. Repeat. 

Lobster. It's what's for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. And 3 pm snackies.
After a weekend of beer-ing, boating, and getting sand in uncomfortable places, we celebrated the finale of our trip at a French restaurant. Now listen here - I insist this is in fact keeping with our Americana theme. Please recall that before the whole freedom fries debacle, the French were the ones who helped us win the Revolutionary War. Without them, we all may have turned out speaking like Harry Potter (I’m imagining a Hogwarts in California… ah yes, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stoners...). Plus, the frites are actually to die for. Vive les frites! 

I have to tell you, the greatest thing happened at dinner. At one point or another, the conversation turned to religion. We noticed that at our little table, we represented a veritable buffet of faiths - Catholics and Jews, Protestants and atheists, church-goers and yoga-doers and Ashram-lovers. We even had a newly ordained Pastor with us, seeing as my new friend Arik had just accepted a position in the United Church of Christ in Cleveland. As the wine poured, our old friend Lydia started telling us a story about her great grandparents, Martha Cogan (yes, also my sister’s name... freakyyy) and Waitstill Sharp, who are the subjects of an upcoming Ken Burns documentary. Waitstill was a unitarian minister, and in the midst of World War II, the couple picked up and moved to Czechoslovakia. There, they helped hundreds of Jews and non-Jews escape from the Holocaust and emigrate to America. Despite threats of arrest and an eventual shutdown by the Gestapo, the couple continued their work, helping to save children, adults, and some of the greatest intellectuals of the 20th century who would have otherwise been lost to us forever.

The whole time that Lydia was speaking, Arik was listening with this puzzled look on his face. Suddenly, as she finished, a light bulb went off.

“The Sharps!” he exclaimed.
“Yes...” Lydia replied.
“When you started telling the story, it sounded so familiar. I just put it together: Every year, I’m part of a service that the Unitarian Church holds that honors the Sharps. This whole time, I’ve been holding a service to honor your family.”

I wish you had been there! It was such a phenomenal thing. Lydia and Arik had never met before. They live in opposite parts of the country and live completely different lives. Yet, they had this connection. It got me to thinking: None of that could have happened if we did not live in a country where your religion - or nonreligion - is your right. That’s exactly what the Sharps were fighting for when they went to Czechoslovakia. And what made that dinner so amazing was that everyone was different - different backgrounds, geographies, religions. In this country, you have a right to be yourself. You have a right to just be. It all made for a rather meaningful Independence Day, and I left Massachusetts feeling very lucky to call this country my home.

Always yours,

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