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'Both Sides Now' is a link to Dad

There is one sure-fire way to know if you are compatible with someone: road trips.

Nick and I -- a six-month relationship that rose in the wake of a five-year one -- spent at least 50 hours in the car together this fall for friends' weddings, trips to his parents' house on Long Island and random weekend getaways. From my experience, it is a good sign that we did not kill each other.

We both have ritual driving music: he prefers to "get into the zone" with the Doors and R&B when he is behind the wheel, and I enjoy belting out favorites from Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell. Whenever "Both Sides Now" comes on, Nick instinctively turns the volume up; it is my favorite song.

My best friend from high school, Gabrielle, got married in Buffalo recently. Nick and I drove to Eden and stayed with my mom.

The wedding was picturesque: the ceremony was held in Trinity Episcopal Church on Delaware Avenue, and the reception was in the International Institute of Buffalo. My heart fluttered knowing that my childhood friend has found the love of her life.

During the reception, members of the wedding party made speeches. Then Gabrielle's father wanted to say a few words.

"I'd like to call Sarah Schwab [and two other women Gabrielle and I were close with] to the front of the room," her father said into a microphone. Blushing, the three of us stood next to the bride.

"These four girls were like sisters in high school," her father continued. His eyes brimmed with tears. "I consider them all my daughters."

The microphone was passed. We each hugged Gabrielle and took our seats. After dinner the bride and groom danced. And then came the part of the party where I normally step outside: the father-daughter dance. My stomach did something complicated as I thought about my dad, about the sickness that consumed his life almost, unbelievably, four years ago.

But a warm feeling passed through me and I did not leave. I held my breath to hold back tears and watched my best friend and her father slow dance.

At one point of the song her dad glanced at me and winked. Gabrielle was looking at him lovingly. She turned to me and grinned, all teeth. I could not have been happier at that moment. I smiled at them both.

After five days of spending time with my mom, family and friends, Nick and I headed back to our apartments in New York City. The typical rotation played: the Doors, Fleetwood Mac, R&B and Joni Mitchell.

"I'm going to play this song during the father-daughter dance at my wedding," I said when "Both Sides Now" came on.

"Why do you like it so much?" Nick asked.

I explained that when I was little, my father and I would spend Thursdays together. He worked so much that my mom created these "father-daughter days" so that I never lost touch with him.

One Thursday he wanted to play me guitar in our living room. "Both Sides Now" was the first song he sang -- his favorite song. I looked over his shoulder and read the lyrics off his sheet music. For hours, I belted out wrong notes and words, trying to follow the rhythm of his voice.

"Who will you dance with?" Nick asked.

I thought for a moment: maybe my mother, or husband or father-in-law. Or maybe I would just turn up the volume and belt it out like always.

***

Sarah T. Schwab, a graduate of Fredonia State College, is currently living in New York City working as a freelance writer.

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