The early October air in the south feels like molasses. But it’s one of the last outdoor festivals of the season, so I push through the throngs of people. The crowd chatter coats the parts of me the thick air missed. As I’m jostled along like a bottle of Coke on an assembly line, a bedazzled queen in platform heels reaches down to gift me with a tiny rainbow flag and a megawatt smile.
“A queen can always spot another queen, hon.”
My shoulders scrunch up to my ears, and a heat spreads from my neck to my cheeks. No one ever notices me. It feels good to be seen, especially by someone so colorful and sure of herself. She must be sure of herself to navigate the crowd and the asphalt in those platforms. Her confidence bursts from the tiny rainbow flag and through my arm as it shoots through the air and over my head. I join the crowd’s enthusiasm, wildly waving my flag.
Still riding my newfound confidence through the massive crowd, I spot some news cameras. Candy apple red and cotton candy pink wigs bob over the heads of the plain-looking. A shrill voice cuts through the crowd and turns the already oppressive heat up a couple of notches.
“For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son! Don’t you want everlasting life?”
My arm feels heavy. I slowly let it melt to the ground with my flag still in hand. The street preacher’s words shoot through the crowd and slam into my body, judging it. Was that his intent?
The ever-shifting crowd moves me towards the cameras and the street preacher. He’s small boned and dressed in a wool suit. Sweat beads pop up on his brow and run down into his eyes. He squints and swipes at it with his scratchy sleeve.
My bedazzled queen bends down towards the street preacher, long arms circling him in an embrace. I can see his shoulders let go and relax at her touch.
“We’ve already found everlasting life, hon.”
She hands the street preacher a tiny rainbow flag and flashes that megawatt smile.
As I stand on my tip toes trying to see what he will do next, I’m swept along in the crowd’s mingled indifference and enthusiasm. I keep craning my neck to look backwards, frantically trying to spot the plain wool suit amongst the energy. The crowd has swallowed him.
The air shifts. What was once filled with humidity and chaos mixed with uncertainty is now alive with positivity and confidence all jumbled up and colorful. My energy shifts with the air. I push my shoulders back and feel my face open.
Everlasting life, here I come.