This I Believe

Emily - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Entered on January 2, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50


We did a drive-by on the way home from a party. A line had already formed. It was midnight but there were already five people there. They sat bundled in sleeping bags and sitting on lawn chairs. As I looked at them through the car window, I judged them. Stupidity. Insanity. There are no words to describe it.

Yet even as I judged, I knew I would join them. This is what Adam wanted. We parked the car and I braced myself for the harsh reality. I had agreed to sleep on the sidewalk overnight. I reached into his trunk and gathered our supplies–chairs, blankets, books and food. Everything I thought we would need to survive for eight hours in the Michigan cold. By the time we got in line, we were numbers ten and eleven.

As I settled into my spot beneath the overhang, I wondered. I am 33 years-old. I don’t have kids. I went to college. I went to grad school! Why did I decide to do this? Why had anyone in this line decided to do this?

The easy answers came quickly:

“We are trapped in a consumer-driven frenzy!”

“We are greedy, materialistic drones!”

“If we can’t get it, we have to have it!”

Yet as quickly as these thoughts came to mind, they passed. I was here for another reason. I was here for Adam.

For a minute, I felt badly that we’d left the comfort of our bed for something so ignoble. We were here to buy a video game. If we cared as much about peace as we care about video games, perhaps we could actually make a difference. We could sleep outside to stop the war. We could camp-out for the environment.

That sentiment passed quickly as well. I have nothing against peace or the environment. I am a supporter of both. Rather, I decided to let myself off the hook about the ignoble part. Because again, I had a higher purpose.

Adam and I were engaged two weeks prior. He gave me a beautiful ring as a sign of happy times ahead. He didn’t expect anything back. Still, I found myself wanting to thank him for his confidence in me. He believes in me and thinks I will make him a good partner.

He already has a watch and he’s not a cuff-link kind of guy. But this video game? This he wanted. It also seemed like the perfect gesture. A metaphor for our life to come. I can sleep outside. I can handle whatever our marriage brings.

Silly? Of course. Effective? Definitely. While some people made fun of me, Adam said, “I’m very impressed.” And as I looked around at the other people in line–from the Dad with the teenager to the single Mom and her boy–I realized that’s why most of us were there: to just make someone happy.