What Was Missed:
The wedding procession, up from the glen (the dry riverbed, in August, wavering with new grasses).
Red lanterns strung from Douglas firs and cedars.
An apparently windy speech from the Father of the groom.
(Snickering from his divorced wife.)
A taco truck.
Hours of dancing and spirits flowing as fast as the river in spring runoff.
Costumes (sequins, glitter).
Clouds of mosquitoes.
A male guest, in search of swimming trunks, passed out in the back seat of a rented car. His distraught girlfriend.
Uncontrolled controlled substances.
Uncensored, unfettered Bacchanalia.
What Was Seen, Smelled, Tasted, Felt:
Paper-cut banners slipping from their pinnings, limb from limb.
An unlit pile of red lanterns in the dirt.
Unstrung strings of lights.
A box of masks and hats, some with purple feathers, spilling.
Very-slowly-moving people, hungover people, danced-out people, I-slept-all-night on-a-deflated-air-mattress people.
A teensy silver Streamliner trailer: nest for the bride and groom.
Tents clustered, flaps flapping.
Citronella on the breeze.
A ziploc bag of peanut butter cookies on a picnic table.
A towel airing on a huckleberry bush.
Nine hours later and ninety miles to the west, more to be missed:
The band played and was gone before we arrived.
And in the late summer dark on the saltwater beach: large groups of revelers hunkered around campfires, each temporary territory bounded by tiki lights, some green, some yellow. Ribald & boisterous merry-making in the cool breeze beside the Salish Sea in a public park.
Where had I been for so many years to not know this was going on each summer in my city? Everywhere, up and down the stretched-out beach, clusters of people knew what they were doing -- it seemed as natural for them to camp out here of an evening as to plunk oneself down in front of the television and settle-in for an electronic three hours.
This was not my party, yet I so wished I could go back thirty years and stake my claim on this sand with a candle on a spike, gather my friends into my own circle of light.
And afterwards, the longing for a life not lived, a sense of loss so profound and bittersweet it was as if I'd missed summer, forgotten Christmas, skipped tra-la-ing past birthdays and holidays, mired in the drudge of ordinary living.