I am supposed to be in New Jersey.
Yesterday was the closing night of bro-in-law’s final high school musical. Three years ago he had never acted, and last night we were supposed to see him sing an act full of solo songs and take a bow for the final time on his high school stage. And not just him. We’ve watched his castmates transform from shy Sophomores to powerful performers, most of whom we’ll probably never see again.
However, there was the problem of the rain.
In Philly it was just oppressively dreary, but as our car crept northward through NJ it became obvious that the effects of the storm were a little more tangible in our adjoining state.
First, a flooded road. Then, a route with power lines hanging over the road at a precarious 45-degree angle over the asphalt. Next, a traffic accident. Subsequently, downed trees.
When we finally arrived in E’s hometown we discovered the entire township or borough or whatever it is was without power! Even the high school, as her brother informed us sullenly via text.
There would be no closing night.
We drove carefully into E’s family’s cul de sac, black as pitch. After commiserating about the show we ate dinner by candlelight. When we were done, I excused myself to the adjoining room to bang on an out-of-tune piano I’ve been promising to have tuned for years.
As I bashed through cover songs, carefully avoiding the most dissonant keys, I contemplated.
We had ascribed so much value and meaning to the closing night. We came for the opening weekend too, but the last show was supposed to be extra special. Now, it didn’t exist. No final hurrah for the cast to sing even better or for us to clap even louder.
We didn’t get a closing night, but I’m still just as proud of our brother. And, in retrospect, I clapped just as hard as I could clap when we saw him last weekend.
The significant thing was really how many times I’ve seen him bow over the past three years – and how proud and loud I have been the entire time.
The significance isn’t in the next moment – it’s in the last ones. It’s in the moments of progress, not just the destination.
We loaded up the car to head home rather than brave the blackout for the night. Two minutes from E’s house we noticed a Target sign, lit up in red.
The power was back.
Bathed in the neon glow of stores powering up from their slumber, I wondered about my moments. Am I living my life now, or waiting for the next chance to live it? Am I waiting for the next show to play better? Waiting for the right moment to kiss E like I mean it?
Our route home was flooded, and E wanted to turn back. I rested my head on her shoulder as we paused in the jughandle, awaiting our turn.
“Do you want to go home to Philly?” I asked her?
She nodded yes.
“Then we’ll find a way to get there.”