bottled summer

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This is what 15,000 people look like.

The meadow has been re-carpeted, the grass tucked away under a multitude of colors. It’s all bare feet and dresses and sweaters and blankets.

There’s something unifying about music. One would think so many people commingled in such a small space would hold the lot of them one trip or shove from a riot. Instead, people dance and smile and weave among each other.

There’s the girl who lies on her back, her arm over her eyes, seemingly oblivious to the throng that tucks her in on all sides. There is the group hopping and waving their arms in the air. There is the guy with shaggy hair and a dog to match. There is the girl on her boyfriend’s shoulders. There is the guy in the Abercrombie hat with his back to the stage, looking for someone to make eye contact with.

People hop from the foot-sized patches of grass between blankets. No one gets annoyed when someone stops to look up at the stage. Everyone simultaneously does their own thing, and somehow it all fits together.

They sing in one voice, songs that everybody knows.

It’s puzzling that this is possible in a group so infinitely different.

The performers feel it and capitalize on it. They encourage sing-a-longs and extort cheers in between bass solos. They play covers when they have a full quivers of their own music.

The sun shines warmer in this pocket, warmer than elsewhere in the city, where the wind has more direct access. A girl with dark curls rolls up her pants. The worst thing about her day is that she’s not wearing shorts.

The last chord rings in a mass exodus, when everything goes back to normal. There’s jostling on the subway and arguing on cell phones. But some still hum the notes the singer coached them in.

For a few hours, they had bottled summer, and the memory of the taste is still sweet.


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