The mid-June Michigan heat beat down on Vivian as she sat behind the flowers near the party tent of her cousin Hannah’s wedding. This day had been a nightmare filled with relatives she hadn’t seen in over ten years, interactions with annoying cousins all while being forced to smile in family photos. With every camera flash, Vivian’s heart rate rose. More than anything, she longed to be at home, streaming movies from her bed with her dog, Baxter, at her side. Baxter was the perfect companion, he never complained about bad food, poor choices in music, the weather being unbearable, or how much she had grown since the last time he saw her.
As the music blared from the speakers of a DJ her cousin had hired last minute for next to nothing, and you could tell, Vivan sat in silence, contently people-watching. There were her littlest cousins spinning on the dancefloor with their older sister, the bride. Hannah and her now husband’s friends from college and their current workplaces were scattered throughout the tent, some dancing, some sitting and drinking and some at the bar, standing and drinking. The open bar was not the best choice for a group of mostly freshly graduated fraternity brothers and sisters. However, she couldn’t only blame the college kids for over-drinking at the wedding. Her aunt Margaret, aunt Lucy, uncle Marvin, and uncle Gregory were taking shots right along with them. Vivian had a hard time believing anyone would remember this night besides her, since she seemed to be the only one sober.
Although the sun was still blazing hot, and short dresses were a must for this type of weather, Vivian was shocked to see some of the ensembles that people had shown up wearing to this event. Women in “dresses” that Vivian could have sworn she had just seen in the shirt section of a shop downtown, some in wrap dresses that were clearly not meant to be worn with nothing beneath them; men in cargo shorts, yet some in full tuxedos. I suppose the invitations never specified what the required attire was, but it was a wedding! What more does an invitation need to say? Look at the weather channel! Go to a regular store and ask someone what to wear! Search Pinterest! Vivian thought to herself.
The only people properly dressed were Vivian’s family and that was because Vivan dressed them herself. Early that morning, Vivian couldn’t sleep, the nerves were already hitting her hard in regards to the day ahead, so she went to everyone’s closets and picked out coordinating outfits that were weather-appropriated as well as socially acceptable for the event. Even if Vivian didn’t want to be there, she was at least going to look good, and so was her family. Her mom, Michelle was dressed in a lovely black a-line, tea-length sundress with a bright, floral statement necklace. Her father, Henry, was in a tan, linen suit with a blue pin-striped shirt and brown shoes. Vivian’s older brother wore a tropical patterned, short-sleeve button up shirt and beige pants. Finally, her little sister Emily was in a dress fairly similar to the one Vivian chose for herself: a pink floral patterned fit and flare dress.
Scanning the area, she hunted out the faces of her mom’s parents, Grams and Papa. They had traveled from out of state to be here, but they didn’t want to spend money on a hotel, they woke up before dawn to drive over six hours to be here today. Since the family photos that followed the wedding occured, her grandparents had not left the chairs that they were assigned for the reception; they had never looked for exhausted in their lives. Vivian felt bad for not sitting and attempting to start up a conversation with them, but their wrinkled, frowning faces were less than inviting. Pops toweled himself off with his napkin, it was still roughly 85 degrees. Grams sat with her arms crossed, the DJ’s lights casting shadows on her face; her frown and drooping eyelids changed from purple, to green to blue to red back to purple during the song playing with bass that was way too heavy.
Although the people were not the best asset of this wedding day celebration, the food hadn’t been too bad. Hannah had chosen Indian food from a local restaurant that she had visited frequently for many years. The best part of the evening was probably dinner and dessert. Everyone had an excuse to keep their mouths closed and hopefully not try to start up a conversation with her about what she studies at school or what her internship opportunities are or if she’s found a boyfriend yet. Those questions have been over-asked, over-answered and Vivian wanted no part in them, especially the boyfriend question. Vivian’s aunt Shelly had been inquiring about a potential suitor since her fourteenth birthday; Vivian was twenty-two.
Surprisingly aunt Shelly had not attended this wedding, probably for work, as she as an ambassador for an online sporting goods store that required her to try out equipment and apparel all the time. So thankfully, Vivian would not be hearing the dreaded boyfriend question. Along the outer edges of the tent stood people Vivian didn’t recognize at all. Most of them were well-dressed pairs of young adults, holding their classes like they were world-famous alcohol conesuirres, sniffing and swirling their drinks between sips during the awkward pauses in their conversations that were too obvious to good unnoticed by Vivian’s wandering eye. She couldn’t help but giggle underneath her breath as she sighed, relieved there was no one that she was required to talk to while awkwardly sipping a drink.
The sun was beginning to set and it was almost time for the send-off. Hannah had chosen for the guests to make a tunnel of sparklers for the happy couple to run through before driving away in their 1963 Cadillac convertible that they had rented for the day – it was the one choice that Hannah had given to her husband to-be. Vivian was ecstatic that this day was almost over, within the hour she would be home, ready to decompress; although the last part of the day had been interesting since she made the choice to fill her time with people watching. The funny thing was, no one seemed to notice her absence from the party. She had come with her family, greeted the newlyweds, said hi to her extended family and even some of the people she knew from her parent’s and cousin’s workplaces that she had met over the years. Vivian had been sitting behind the flowers or simply wandering around the property that the tent was seated on and no one called for her, texted her asking where she was, nothing.
She began to wonder what the point was of coming to this wedding. Why did she have to exhaust herself to the point of wanting to hide, just so Hannah could have a family photo? Vivian knew it was selfish of her to only think of herself on Hannah’s big day but she really did not want to be at this venue right now, or for the past ten hours. She did enjoy her people watching, it was relaxing to peer in on the lives of others, even if she didn’t know their names. It made her feel a part of things to imagine herself in other social situations. To the outside world, it may have seemed like a waste of time to simply stare out into open space, but for Vivian it was interested to observe others without them noticing her. While pacing around the tent, she also had pulled out her iPhone and had taken some pictures, since the venue had such beautiful foliage that surrounded the property. In order to get her mind off of the fact that she was surrounded by mobs of people all dancing to the same terrible beat and eating the same death by chocolate cake, Vivian had to pull out her camera and attempt to focus on the small details around her. In the moment, it didn’t feel like she was able to capture anything worth while. However, later that night, she found herself scrolling through her photos, Baxter at the foot of her bed, and she came across a picture she liked a lot. It was from the angle of where she had sat while people watching. Vivian had captured perfectly the look-out spot, covered by summer blooms that gave her the escape she needed during the crazy. Who knew a spot like this could mean so much to me on a day like today? Vivian thought to herself and she continued to scroll through her pictures, Baxter being a good boy and guarding her room from any person who dare disturb the two of them.