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  • The city rumbled as thunder rolled, motorcycles and veterans revving through town to remind people on Memorial Day that some soldiers never came back, prisoners of war, missing in action, and while I wanted to get to the opera on time, I didn't want to miss the thunder.

    "I'm late," I whispered under my breath. "Late, late, late."

    With the buds in my ears and public radio rivaling the rumbling beside me, I started to run in my blue halter dress that looked like nothing so much as Marilyn Monroe's white one in the Seven-Year Itch. Blue with white polka dots. Red cardigan. My hair was twisted and pinned. My lips stained red. And I was running.

    I held a camera in hand, a very big camera, and stopped frequently to try to capture the scene even as I knew that nothing I took could do it justice, the scene, the thunder, the absurdity of my situation.

    The motorcycles and road closures kept me from driving, from taking a cab or a bus. The metro would take almost as long as walking, maybe more, maybe less, but I couldn't gauge. I only knew how long it would take me to walk. To run. To get there on my own two feet.

    A street vendor complimented my dress and told me I looked lovely. Others ignored me completely or tugged at hems and collars, studiously avoiding my cherry red smile and gaze. Still others nodded and grinned as I kept snapping pictures and run, running, running in my halter dress.

    There was no late seating, none at all, and I thought I had a seat in the second row. As it turned out, I was in the first.

    From my seat, I would see the dust on the stage, the makeup, hair and age of the artists. (Not always in line with the roles.) I would see into the orchestra pit. Hear the flutter of pages, the stomping of feet for the conductor. See the spit valve on the French horns and the double reed of the bassoon. I would see almost everything but the singers' feet and the supratitles unless I only looked up.

    Way up.

    The man next to me would have a legal notepad and a very bored teenage daughter. He'd kick off his shoes as the lights dropped and leave at the half (intermission), and I would wish the death scene would pass faster as I always did.

    "Just die already," I would mutter under my breath.

    The woman across the aisle would shout "Bravo!" both regularly and loudly and it would be fairly spectacular (the shouting more so than the singing but maybe that, too). I just needed to get there and every photo I took made it harder. I needed to stop stopping.

    Photos really wouldn't or couldn’t capture the Rolling Thunder. It was something to be seen to be sure, but more than that heard and felt with every vibrating fiber of one's being.

    I dreamt as I ran of catching a ride, of hopping on the back of a motorcycle, skirt, sweater and hair flying in the breeze.

    If life were a story, someone would have offered, and if life were a story, this would be only the start. Instead, I kept running.
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