Somehow, when I was in my early marriage days, my husband at the time, his parents, his sister and her boyfriend coordinated a trip to Six Flags in New Jersey. This was before the one opened in Massachusetts and well before our son was a shiny beam of light in our lives so I am going way back here. Early nineties back. The fact that we all went somewhere together was a feat in itself, but that we chose a three day trip to an amusement park is definitely a head scratcher in hindsight. Nonetheless, it was one of the most hilarious and joyful trips I can recall in my young married life.

In the early days of marriages, back then anyway, young couples in my circle didn’t have much money so our vacations had to be a bit creative. Road trips were a little more cost effective, couple this with an amusement park and a discounted Marriot Residence Inn and a mini vacation is what we ended up with. Though I cringe at this combination now, this trip was well before I developed a taste for the higher end places to stay on the road less traveled, ignorance was indeed bliss.

Six Flags Amusement Park back in the early nineties was a really fun way to get out some stress. I didn’t realize any of this at the time as the six of us entered the park ready for the new Spiderman ride that had just opened. Dave and I got on this web of a roller coaster that turned us literally upside down on our heads as it twisted and turned for what seemed like an hour, but was probably more like ten seconds. Up, down, back and forth at a speed that took our breath away, the screams began on the first incline and never stopped. I screamed my guts out along with every other person on that insane ride. Then when the ride came to a screeching halt, we got off and stood in line again and did it all over again.

We went on every single roller coaster ride for the next two days together, we got Dave’s parents on a few and laughed so hard we almost peed our pants. We screamed and laughed some more and I can remember thinking how lucky I was to have landed in a family who would even consider traveling to an amusement park for a weekend. It was a memorable and happy three days and the amount of screaming and yelling on each ride was better than any therapy session I would find myself in my later years.

Getting the literal led out was what I did two nights ago at the Get the Led Out Led Zeppelin Tribute band concert I attended with two friends, one who is as big of a Led Zep fan as me. THE GREATEST ROCKBAND OF ALL TIME, was what I would drill into my son’s head and all of his friends when they were eight or nine who found themselves in my mini COOPER convertible rocking out. We arrived standing out like shiny white light in my friend’s white Mercedes SUV, my two friends looking like they were attending a tennis match more than a rock concert.

As we looked for a parking spot in the already packed venue surrounding the concert stage, I quickly realized that we weren’t in Kansas anymore. I mean we were never in Kansas to begin with, but attending a concert in the Indian River Campground in Webster, Mass was an experience you just can’t make up. On a river, Indian River to be precise, surrounded by camp areas with names like Conway Twitty and Gran Ole Opry packed with full on campsites each one set up to outdo the next one was a flash from my past that made me giddy. Dave and I used to go camping all over New England way before the term Glamping became a vocabulary word. I was one of these campsites and could totally relate to the whole super fun experience.

People were drinking, riding around in golf carts, the preferred form of transportation at seasonal campgrounds, smoking cigarettes like it was the 1970s and sporting Led Zeppelin T shirts as they proudly air guitared among each other. Smoke was everywhere as the lights from the stage with the river and the Indian River Princess Cruiseship as its backdrop showed the vapors. I looked at my friend amazed at the amount of blatant pot smoking everywhere when I realized, oh yeah, we are in Massachusetts, POT SMOKING IS LEGAL now! Everyone there looked and acted (me included) like they just stepped out of my high school yearbook except thirty-five years later. Throaty voiced women talking about yesteryear with their scraggly hair husbands hanging on to their hair of the past for dear life. AND IT WAS A BLAST.

I got to time travel Friday night with two of my dearest friends tailgating with bio dynamic wine (sorry I do have my standards) in the back of a white Mercedes eating Italian grinders and chips from Ricottis and screaming, singing and fist pumping my guts out. I danced and jumped and pumped and whoooo hooooed all night because I know the words to almost every single Led Zeppelin song. I was brought back to my life in high school like I was placed in a time machine. Back to the Future and for three hours it was just like I was on that roller coaster.

One thing I have learned from the wisdom of this past three years is to say YES to fun. To live in the parties, the gatherings and the playfulness of invites that come my way. Attending a Led Zeppelin tribute band who sounded just like Led Zeppelin on a Friday night was a non stop partying and gloriously happy evening. And yes we are going again. August 17th, Plymouth Mass if anyone out there cares to say yes to their own dormant selves. I got my led out and can’t wait to get it out again.




I got home the night before the parade at 10:30 pm after watching the Bristol fireworks, way past my bedtime by the way, with the prospect of having to set my alarm for four am. I had to be sure that I would be at least half dressed with coffee made in hand to make my way to Hope St. for the infamous chair set up. The chair set up that takes place at five am, but more likely at 3:30 am as parade attendees are eager to get the perfect spot in the shade on a 100 degree no breeze day. When I made my way to the corner to claim my stake of real estate on the hot corner, the entire street was already lined with not only chairs, but tents and people sitting and lying in the already baking humidity five hours ahead of the parade even starting! I got to witness two people arguing about said spots as one of my neighbors learned quickly that the five am mandated time was too late on this fourth of July. Surely this would be a hot topic in Bristol’s famous Speak Out section.

The Bristol 4th of July Parade is the oldest July 4th celebration in the country. It is a force to be reckoned with as families and friends gather like a family reunion cooking much too much food, drinking and eating too much, and cheering for the politicians, the kids, the military and all of the other marchers who brave the excruciating temperature and humidity that always seems to land on our proud and happiest of days. It brings out the best of people and my neighbors who have welcomed me into their tribe on a street filled with residents who have been part of the fabric of this community for two and three generations. We scream, we cheer, we laugh our guts out. We, or rather I, jump out and kiss and hug all of the politicians and people we know in the parade. We dance and sing and basically let loose celebrating life and the unique perch we get to sit on living in Americana 101. And even better for me now, living within about forty steps of the actual parade route without living on the actual parade route. The best of both worlds. And this year, add to the glorious mix, the installation of central AC in my house and life doesn’t get any better.

People stopped in all day yesterday to say hi, to use the bathroom, to cool down, to grab some water and to say hello. I welcomed some new friends who I have been sitting next to the past few years from Prudence Island to wait in the ac for the ferry to take them back to their summer cottages. I invited the masses for the over achieving amount of food I had prepared always planning on too many and never having the amount of people I think I will have. My friend’s son and his friends stayed around for the second year in a row for what I think will now become an annual tradition of feeding them and I am all the happier of moms to do so. Potato salad, burgers, oreo cookie trifle, Ricottis’ sandwich platters, beer, Proseco and more and more and more.

What is it about holidays that cause this excess? That force normal healthy food abiding citizens like myself to blow all cares to the wind and instead prepare endless amounts of mayonnaise and Cool Whip laden treats? I am not sure, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. It is the best of our town leading both up to the day and the actual day. From the really nice and engaging police officer assigned to our corner named Peter to the DPW in charge of cleaning up after to the entire group of volunteers who fund raise and organize for the parade year round, Bristol’s fourth of July experience is the best time of the year. Lucky to live here, we move through June with the eager anticipation like little ones waking up to Christmas morning on the day of the parade, but also anticipating the let down of July 5th, when it is all over.

Like a wedding with no honeymoon planned, especially now since time seems to be accelerating at a faster rate than ever, July 5TH looms like a dark cloud for me knowing that it will come (and go) at the blink of an eye. I have actually found myself this parade anticipating the day with a feeling of anti climatic vigor as early as the first concert at Independence Park on June 21ST. This is ridiculous, I know. Waking up today on July 5th looking at myself in the mirror wondering where my eyes went, and not sure if I would ever be able to fit a ring on my swollen fingers again, I was not as melancholy as I had anticipated. We joke here in Bristol about a few things, that when the parade is over, so is summer, that when it is July 5th the planning for next year’s parade begins and lots of other funny commentary. For me and my business, I always say that when it is July 4th, it is Christmas and when it is Christmas, it is July 4th. It sounds like I am wishing time away, but I am not at all. I like having things to look forward to, to share my zest and my enthusiasm for the joy of living in a small town filled with generations of people who appreciate its funk and its big heart.

My grandfather who is fast approaching 101, has done these types of “carrots” as I call them, giving him these milestones to look forward to, my son’s Bar Mitzvah, his graduation from high school, events that peak his interests in his family and his life that keep him going. I am not sure that this is a conscious decision or an intuitive one, but it is a useful one surely. I like having events and milestones to look forward to. I also love knowing that every day each and every one of us wakes up breathing is an event in itself as so many young people in my circle have left us too soon or are not sure if they will have the privilege of waking up tomorrow.

July 5th for me this year is not the end of summer as I had dreaded semi jokingly, but instead the start of summer. Where reality comes back into my life in a good and calm way, where a case of wine might actually last me for two months instead of two weeks. I work really hard at life because I love life. I work out hard, I eat healthy, I take care of myself and my employees, my friends and my family. When these rare and joyous occasions arrive, I am all the happier to let it all go to celebrate the freedoms we have and I fully plan on doing this every year for all of the days of my lucky life.

To more gatherings, and of course to next July 4th!




It was an average Monday, my standard paperwork day. Wake up, go to the gym, do some gardening and then sit at the computer for about four hours to catch up from the previous week, deposits, bills, mail, return calls and check emails I had put aside. I had a 2:00 meeting with the power house men of the Explore Bristol team, so I had a little less time to finish up the work I had ahead of me. Once the latter part of the afternoon rolls around, my brain starts to turn to jello and I just can’t sit anymore staring at a computer screen and numbers.

I had taken a great workout class in the morning and vowed that there would be no wine drinking for at least the day. This is not an easy task to overcome the weeks leading up to July 4th in a town that celebrates the oldest July 4th celebration in America. It is party central here in Bristol, RI and it is so much fun from June 21st to July 4th. I am sure all my AA friends are rolling their eyes at my perpetual rationalization for nightly wine consumption, but we’ll save this for another essay at a later date.

So the three compadres of Explore Bristol, a small grassroots volunteer tourist organization, gather at the Lobster Pot on the back deck outside on a picture perfect early summer day. We were there to talk about the latest news on an upcoming building project, the past events and all things small town, leaning into the comfort of each other’s company as we have been working together for over eight years. We are friends and colleagues and though we have completely different political views, we have a strong connection and this was a chance to just simply relax and hang out. Shrimp cocktail, oysters and smoked salmon came out in trays as did the crisp white wine. Mmm. Didn’t I just say there would be at least one day before the fourth that would be wine free? Always breaking my own self imposed rules, what the hell, one glass on a hot summer day among friends to celebrate our successes? One glass. Well clearly, Jeff had other plans because then the second glass came out. Ok. No more driving possibilities, I’ll walk home. Our conversation became livelier and it is amazing how quickly two glasses of delicious white wine on a random Monday afternoon with no responsibilities can give the freedom of blowing all cares to the wind. Fuck, as much as I have the perpetual chatter of do I drink or not drink, (block your ears my AA friends here) there is nothing like a couple glasses of wine to ease the burdens of grief albeit short lived. I was fully aware that this jovial feeling that was rapidly taking over my otherwise sad heart from hearing about yet another woman’s breast cancer advancing, and it is bad, would be short lived. Like tomorrow when I would wake up wondering why I had to have the fourth glass, more on that later. I have known this superchick for over twenty eight years; she used to be married to my former brother in law and we both got breast cancer around the same time unbeknownst to each other until after.

So as the three of us enjoyed the third glass of wine, trying to stop the train called Jeff from deliberately trying to get us intoxicated, we released for a few hours the burdens of cancer that two out of three us had been dealing with for the past three years. We laughed, planned, ate, talked over each other, and tried to figure out how we would be getting home. In the case of Mike, he had dinner plans and had to answer to his surprised wife when she called and could clearly hear that something was amiss in the sounds of her otherwise pragmatic and responsible husband’s voice. I had already made the call to my twenty year old son to come and save me by driving me home, bribed with the promise of a dinner at the Pot.. Mike stumbled out to be picked up by his wife as they had dinner plans in Providence with friends. Don’t know how he got out of that one and Jeff and I checked in with him the next day to find out if we were both in the doghouse along with him. We haven’t heard back. Not good. I managed to wolf down fried clams, grapenut pudding with icecream and thankfully a glass of water rather than a fifth glass of wine knowing that the regrets of all of this would be plentiful at three am.

There is something to be said about living in the proverbial moment, a challenge I have been working on. I am finding it easier to do this, leaning into the fun, dancing when no one else is and hooting it up whenever a chance presents itself. Impromptu day drinking is one of those rarities that can’t be planned, but when it shows up, the fun and release of all stresses and worries is really a treasure in the moment. As I realized that I definitely had one too many glasses of wine on a rare Monday, I also realized that life is a blast on so many levels, it blasts by too and I for one vow after this past Monday to have more parties. We need more celebrations, more dancing, and whether you drink or not, definitely more letting go however it presents itself. We need to celebrate life while we have it and not wait till we don’t. Trust me on this one, parties are in my future and likely yours too. And because I am old school, you may have to actually take a walk to your mailbox to find out when, because my inbox is full and I need some fresh air. And as fate would have it, just as I finished up this essay today, a song just came on called, Here’s To Now. Divine.

let the partying begin!