This year is going to be my 16th July Fourth on this land.
On my first one, I was watching the fireworks at Broadway at the Beach, in Myrtle Beach, SC.
I had no (legal) job. I was a brand new American wife, with a head full of dreams and a door wide open.
Every year, on this day, I think of that day - the hopes and dreams and carelessness and ... hope. Lots of hope. I had no idea what the future held. I was dreaming of MY version of the "American dream", I suppose: a warm home, a steady income, a clean job, a neat garden with roses up front. Simple things.
I could not even dream, at that point, about my life 16 years from then.
16 years would have seemed like an unrealistic, unfathomable pipe dream.
But I am here to tell you: 16 years from that first July Fourth, life is everything I dreamed of , and then some. All the dreams and hopes have been fulfilled and then some, beyond belief.
I am grateful, happy, and still in awe. And I am here to tell you: I am glad that my parents taught me that it's OK to ... dream. It's in the dreams that everything starts. So, don't be afraid of them. They will give you the map!
Like a true non-American, I still hate peanut butter.
Like a true (imported) American, I still love freedom.
And because I am simply, undeniably "me", it all works out at the end of the day.
I am grateful every second of every day for what life and America has given me. I can never fully feel like I belong, but I can always and forever feel grateful.
When I hear the news about the people that are sending their children here, for a better, free life, I just want to walk (yes, walk!) to them and adopt them all. I want to tell them that, yes, it's possible and yes, they should keep trying. Whatever their dreams are, they are becoming reality here. So, they should keep trying and they should keep dreaming.
Freedom and happiness and ... another day, full of hope, unrestricted sun rises and no worries ... are possible.
Happy Birthday, America!
And thank you for having me at the Big Party for yet another year!