Have you ever felt a thunderstorm coming?
The air suffocates with the promise of rain. Heat clings to your body. You’re drenched in sweat. Clouds build in the distance, marble castles in the sky, growing nearer and larger and darker as the hours pass. The anticipation sits on your soul. Time stands still.
Such is the nature of waiting, though rarely is it felt so physically. Yet it was present last weekend.
Imagine: you stand between similarly miserable bodies, sweat-infused sardines in the dark of the Crystal Ballroom. The only light comes from the stage. A piano is playing; you’re not sure why. The music is beautiful, but only increases your drowsy feeling. You stood in the sun for over an hour, and now it’s more of the same. You’re dehydrated, but you only have a small bottle of water, and if you leave your spot – the one near the stage you worked so hard for – to get more, you won’t get it back. Your feet and calves ache. The pain of waiting echoes in your bones.
As a birthday present, I was given two tickets to see Johnnyswim (my favorite band), so I invited a friend and fellow fan. We happily awaited the day of the concert, accepted the long, uncomfortable line outside the venue – the sidewalk wasn’t quite warm enough to fry an egg, but it could certainly slow-roast a tomato – and hoped, stepping into the old brick building, for some momentary relief from the heat. No such luck.
So be it. “The concert will start soon,” we said, “and the music will be distracting.” But the concert didn’t start soon. And as the soothing indie music played, the fear began to build. Would this be worth the wait? Would the sweat and hope be for naught?
And then the light changed. The music stopped. The concert began.
All was well.
In fact, it was better than well. Blasting folk music is like a storm breaking: raw, loud, beautiful. The clouds open, and relief pours down. In hindsight, I know I would have enjoyed the concert no matter what. But what happened in the Crystal Ballroom was enhanced by journey leading up to it. The wait – hours of baking in the sun, oppressed by the heat and the heaviness – makes the downpour all the sweeter.