“Beep. Beep. Beep,” the alarm screeches.
Any other day, the incessant sound of the lovely wake-up call would urge me to punch it across my bedside table and fall back into the beauty of unconsciousness. However, today is not just any other day. Today is the day of the concert that I have wanted--needed--for so long. I leap out of bed and nearly leap back in when my feet meet the cold wood floors. I glance at the alarm clock that reads, “4:30 AM.” I smile like I just won the lottery, something I have never done at the ungodly hour of 4:30 in the morning before. I scramble around the house with my best friend, Maria, and we grab everything we will need to sustain us for an entire day spent outside standing in lines in the heat of southern Florida. I feel as if I am preparing for a war for which I am not prepared. We shove everything that will fit into two bags and dart out of the front door into the car, where we immediately fall back asleep.
“We’re here,” Maria whispers, more as a reminder to herself that this is actually happening than to wake me up.
I eagerly peek out of the window to see the still dark parking lot of the arena. Down the road begins a small group of just about 10 people in a line. Maria and I grab all of our belongings, and as the car doors open, I am met with the scent of saltwater and the beach, a lovely reminder that the beach is only a mile away. As we approach the line, my heart speeds up, and I think it might beat right out of my chest. The anxiety and nerves that I have been suppressing for months now is all coming back with no intent of going away.
As the hours go by and the day grows longer, so does the crowd. The line that was once 10 people long is now 500 people long and counting. The sound of music and laughter fills the atmosphere. Others in line have brought ukuleles, blankets, and speakers. Of course this group of people would turn a venue parking lot into a temporary campsite. In the meantime, Maria and I get to know the people sitting next to us in line.
“So… how long have you guys listened to them?” one redheaded girl with bright blue eyeshadow inquires.
I reply immediately, “Almost four years now.” As soon as the words leave my mouth, I am shocked. Has it really been four years already?
Finally, after hours of waiting outside of the arena, the barricade is opened. We make a beeline for the front of the stage, and as soon as we get there, we look at each other. With the makeup practically melted off of my face from the heat of the sun, mouth completely dry with thirst, feet aching as a result of standing in lines, I look at my best friend and at the empty stage, and I am convinced I have never been so happy in my entire life.
And I hear it: the opening song. The song I have only heard through phone speakers or earbuds. The song that I have read the lyrics to innumerable times. The song that got me through so many of my hardships and tribulations. I am hearing it live just feet in front of me. And before I know it, I taste salt from the tears that I am completely unaware are rushing down my face.
And it seems that just as soon as it begins, it ends. Maria and I stand there after the last song just staring at the vacant stage. The flashing lights of the show are faded. The smell of the beach is omnipresent. My throat stings from singing until it hurt. The taste of tears covers my lips. My ears are ringing from the aftermath of the music. I am content. We walk away from the arena, looking back every few steps, as if it is a battlefield, and we are victorious.