For the first time in eight years, I'm spending the Fourth with friends and family in Rhode Island.
I'm haunted by images of lazy summer days spent skimming dog-eared paperback novels. Memories of rushing out of the house to find the perfect spot on the sand, where conversations with lifeguards, trips to the slush truck and refreshing dips in the ocean marked the passing hours.
And then, of course, there are the bars with the pulsating music and throng of bodies crowding onto the postage stamp dance floor. Late nights spent flirting with strangers, getting into embarrassing situations and then, the silly hijincs that become legend over time as the stories are retold.
That was then.
I'm sure I'll drive back with some new stories - but I'm looking forward to quiet (a sign of maturity?), to catching up with old friends, spending some quality time with family, sitting through the oldest Independence Day parade in the country and watching the fireworks display.
I don't think I'll miss the heat, the tourists, the security, and craziness of the National Mall at all.