Streetlights, people, living just to find emotion Hiding somewhere in the night
|Strangers waitin’ up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searchin’ in the night
Streetlights, people, living just to find emotion
Hiding somewhere in the night
Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to that feelin’
Street light people
Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
I had to give it to them: they picked a beautiful place. Even then, when the sun had long since set, the beauty of the vineyard was blatantly obvious. Rows of grape trees stretched on for miles. The sky was clear and I could see the stars. I stood in the grass, barefoot and holding up the folds of my dress, watching the stars. It seemed like so long since I’d seen them. Octobers back home were cloudy with a unique grayness that blocked out the sun and stars alike. California Octobers, however, seemed to have the beautiful skies that could only be found at home during the peak of summer.
Suddenly two girls stumbled out of the tent. The two of them were two different levels of drunk, but I was having trouble telling which one had drunk more champagne. They giggled until they saw me standing there.
Still smiling, they asked, “What are you doing out here?”
They looked like they expected something to be wrong.
“I’m just looking at the stars,” I replied.
“Are you ok?” one of them asked.
This girl had brown hair and a pretty smile.
“I’m fine. I know I look emo at the moment, but I’m fine.”
“What?” she asked, confused.
Maybe she didn’t know what ‘emo’ meant. John didn’t. Or maybe it was the booze. Who knows?
The other girl shook her head.
“You can’t be out here in the dark. You should be in there partying!” she said with a gesture to the tent.
I smiled and nodded.
They took me by the arm and pulled me inside. I wanted to tell them that they didn’t have to drag me. In truth I just went outside to get a few minutes of quiet. It had been a long day. I’d been up late the night before, I was jet-lagged, I was stressed for a test I would have to make up when we got home, and there was, of course, the whole ordeal of my brother getting married that day.
At the reception my sister and I became the ‘special project’ of my brother and sister-in-law’s friends. They wouldn’t let us rest for a minute. When one of them saw us sitting instead of dancing they pulled us onto the dance floor. I guess the party wasn’t successful if the teenage sisters of the groom weren’t dancing.
Honestly I had expected to feel pretty crappy at the reception. I hadn’t really looked forward to the wedding.
There were a couple of reasons, but neither of them had anything to do with my new sister-in-law, Cynthia. I thought Cynthia was great. But I was still anxious. When I talked to John in the previous months he always seemed tired or grumpy. When he visited and discussed wedding details with Cynthia on the phone there was a frustrated edge to his voice. I knew that John and Cynthia loved each other, and I told myself that it was just the price of a long engagement, but when I thought of the roller coaster my parents’ marriage had turned out to be I worried for John.
The other reason was more selfish (I am sixteen after all): I was missing a marching band competition to go to the wedding. Marching was very important to me, but it wasn’t as though I loved it more than John. I was bitter about missing it because I knew that John and Cynthia wouldn’t care.
Marching was unofficially tabooed around them. Back home I was a nerd, proudly so, but John and Cynthia found my nerdy habits worthy of scorn. If I acted like the bookworm and band geek that I was around them I would also serve as the punch line of their jokes. They never meant to hurt me and would have been horrified if they knew I was affected by their remarks, but they never bothered to respect something I cared so deeply about. Probably because they never realized how much I loved it. But that just shows how poorly they knew me, worse yet; how poorly I knew them.
So, yeah, I hadn’t exactly looked forward to the wedding.
But as I was brought back into the tent I felt…content. Ok, I was happy. I hadn’t cried at the ceremony, not by a long-shot, but I felt a kind of warmth as I saw John’s face light up when Cynthia walked down the aisle. I was happy because he was happy.
“This will be the last song of the night, folks,” the DJ announced. “It’s kind of fast, kind of slow. It was requested by the bride and groom.”
I was curious. Much to my delight the DJ had played all the songs I thought were off-limits for a wedding (Superfreak, Baby Got Back, Shook Me All Night Long). What now?
The opening chords of Don’t Stop Believin’ sounded from the speakers. I’d never been a big fan of the song, but the brown haired girl beside me was ecstatic.
“This is Bon Jovi!” she exclaimed. “Do you know Bon Jovi?”
I laughed. This one definitely had more to drink.
In the center of the dance floor I saw John and Cynthia swaying in each other’s arms. One of John’s friends approached them and tapped John on the shoulder. The guy looked at Cynthia as he spoke to my brother.
“No Godammit!” John snapped half-jokingly.
I grinned. That was cute.
As I watched John and Cynthia I felt really happy. He was happy. They were happy. It was a kind of happiness I had never known. I couldn’t be unhappy at that moment, not while I knew that John was in love and that Cynthia loved him in return. Even if I missed a marching band competition.
I won’t lie and say I was completely doubt-free after that, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were both happy. Nor did I want to. There were some things you just had to have faith in.
Don’t Stop Believin