It was a sticky, hot and humid Saturday in June. Even though it was later in the day, the heat was unbearable. Dressed in jean shorts, a yellow tank top, and sandals I sat on my front steps waiting for my aunt. I was so eager to go that I’d been out there for a while and was growing inpatient. I was ready to get in my own car and drive there myself. (Good thing I didn’t since we know how well my Jeep handles long distance drives.) At 4:45, she finally rolled up to my grandparents’ house to pick me up. I hopped in the passenger’s side and we finally began our journey. We were headed to the Jones Beach Theater to see Stevie Nicks.
We quickly stopped at the deli for sandwiches and made sure to get extra water bottles for the ride there. If we thought the heat was stifling before, sitting in the car with no air conditioning (since my grandpa only likes to fix the “necessities” on our cars) was like entering the gates of hell.
As we began our journey, our spirits were high and we looked forward to the nice drive onto Long Island. But somehow, as I co-piloted the mission and gave directions, we ended up in a traffic jam that had us sitting in the car, inching forward-with no breeze blowing through the windows-for over an hour. We blasted the radio to try and distract ourselves from the suffocating heat but there was no escaping it. It was like a blanket smothering us. Finally giving up on distractions, we looked at each other, our makeup smearing off our faces and started comparing who had sweat more. Laughing hysterically, I showed her the back of my shirt, which was soaked through. I felt the back of my legs and determined that when I eventually stood up (if we ever reached our destination) it would look like I had peed my pants. However, my aunt, who had worn a black tank top, had completely sweat through her entire shirt, had sweat beads dripping down her forehead through her headband and had little droplets of sweat coming out of her elbows. She won.
Finally, we started to gain speed. The wind, although warm, rushed through the windows of the car and I held my arms up to dry out. The radio back on again, I sang along to some of the popular tunes on the radio no matter how awful they were.
Faster than expected, we arrived at the tollbooth to cross over onto Long Island. The lines were tremendous and with no breeze again, I immediately began to sweat in the stifling heat. As we sat there waiting to pay our toll, a big brick red van pulled up beside us on my side. The driver–an olive skinned, dark haired, handsome guy in his mid-to late thirties–stuck his head out of his window and shouted at me “You’re beautiful! You’re beautiful!” Considering I was dripping sweat at such a rate that I was sitting in my own puddle of it, I just stared at him incredulously. I guarantee that it was NOT the face of anyone beautiful. I had been stunned into silence and could only point at myself as if to say “Huh? Me?” to which he responded by pointing past me at my aunt. Go figure. I grabbed her attention and pointed in the direction of the guy in the van–I still had no words to describe the situation at hand. “You’re gorgeous! You’re gorgeous!” he called to my aunt across the barriers of interstate highway traffic, 100% humidity, my frizzy hair, and two vehicles. Unlike me, my aunt did not just STARE at this man with a crazy look on her face. Instead, she embraced her confidence and started talking to the guy and told him we were on our way to a concert. Slowly, we inched toward the tollbooth. In a last ditch attempt to totally pick my aunt up, the man wrote his number on a Band-Aid, hopped out of his van and gave it to her. Very classy. We rolled through the tollbooth and went our separate ways. I believe this was the reason we had to suffer through the heat: so our windows would be down so this guy could see my aunt and totally hit on her in the strangest place (a tollbooth, seriously?!) in order to make one of the most bizarre and unbelievable memories of my life so far.
Back on the highway with wind blowing through the car I could smell the ocean’s salt water. The setting sun streamed in through the car and I felt at peace.
After what felt like hours, we arrived to the theater. We got a parking spot and I sat on our trunk (which was surprisingly not hot) and had an eggplant Parmesan sub. I observed the others in the parking lot tailgating, laughing and joking. It really was a beautiful scene. It was as if everyone left their problems behind before they came to the venue. They were just enjoying themselves. I wanted to be more like that. Before I knew it, it was time to pick up our tickets for the show. We met up with my aunt’s friend who had a couple extra tickets and we entered the venue. I immediately got an ice cream cone to celebrate our arrival, which had taken too long.
We entered the stadium and found our seats. We had no idea where they would be and boy were we surprised when they were only one level up from the orchestra seats! They were perfect. As we sat waiting for Stevie to come out I found myself feeling so content, surrounded by people that loved the same music as me and my aunt and who I imagined to live lives that I wanted to emulate more of. Before I knew it, the sun had set and it was time for the concert to begin.
Stevie came out dressed in a beautiful, exotic, black corset and skirt with a flowing shawl over her shoulders contrasting against her long blonde hair that blew in the ocean breeze. She was stunning and her voice was mesmerizing. It was rugged and rough and just cut right through me. She commanded the stage with such ease. Without a fancy light show or dancers, like many popular artists have today, there were no distractions from her vocal and musical performance. It was simple, yet so powerful. I felt calm as her music washed over me like the tide. The music absorbed through my pores as I swayed to the music as the same breeze that was kissing Stevie’s skin kissed mine. I could not have felt any happier for those two hours.
I’d been to plenty of concerts before seeing Stevie but somehow, this one signified a shift in my life; a transition from insecure girl to young adult, grieving daughter to college student. It helped me imagine the life I wanted to lead. It had truly been a perfect combination of things. The venue: Long Island-where my dad lived for a time-and where the breeze washed away any worries. The music: so rock and roll and pure (no matter how cliche that may sound). And the company: my aunt, whose outrageousness can only make me smile. It was as if the stars all aligned for me to have this experience to remind me of the power of music and it’s ability to make someone feel, in the words of one of my favorite books, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” infinite.