Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Vacation Story #5--"But I don't mind the days gone rolling away..."

The reception was awesome. The Mariott ballroom, catered by the hotel. Delicious food. Fun times. Everyone dancing. I shot more than a roll of film at the reception. Every woman was beautiful, every man was dashing. But I couldn't help but feel a little tug of sadness. It was the last night of my trip. And likely the last time I'd see many of my friends who were in attendance.

There was one particular point in the evening when I felt this the most. I was walking amongst the tables, taking candid shots of friends, strangers, and the occasional centerpiece (trying to be one of the hip artsy kids, like Jonathon Youngblood). And I turned and looked at the crowd on the tiny dance floor, dancing, laughing, smiling. And in the soft golden light of candles and chandeliers, I watched as the music seemed to soften. The dancing crowd was moving in slow motion, and I stood there, in the near-silence of my own reflection, thinking, "This is it--the scene in the movie where the main character realizes that everything he loves is fading." I looked out over the crowd, all the faces I recognized, and felt a stab of sadness. But then, I realized that my sometimes-mantra is true: "It is as it must be." And it must.

My reverie was broken by a soft hand grabbing mine. A woman pulling me out onto the dance floor. My friend's sister, who said that her husband wouldn't dance with her, so she's dancing with me. We danced. She complimented me on my footwork and my voice (I sang along a bit with the music). I insisted, in both cases, that she was too kind. Then I danced with the groom's mother, whom I adore. Great lady. And then the time came for the anxious couple to speed away into the night. We stood outside the door of the hotel, lighting sparklers instead of throwing rice. The sparklers showered the sidewalk with light and false flame. The sparklers were time, burning brightly and quickly. Those who hang on too long burn their fingers. The wisest of us see when the last few seconds of light approach, savor them, then drop the sparkler to the ground and quietly mourn its passing, only for a moment.

I held my sparkler high, and the bride and groom ran past in their world of light and love and only two people, two faces, two rings. Off they sped into the dark, and I watched and waved. The sparkler died and I threw it away.

The crowd remained for a while, then dwindled, until only the Theatre kids remained. We said our goodbyes. I didn't stay until the very end. The romantic idea of being the last one to leave had crossed my mind. But I was tired, and a little lonely, so I put on my brave face, and walked away.

And that was that.

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