My recent trip to Delaware was motivated by the same intentions that most of my other random jaunts are: a cocktail of genuine interest and a nagging need to challenge the borders of my comfort zone. My concern over the latter has always existed, but further manifested itself this past year. As I approach my first wedding anniversary, the memory of my husband and I tying that complicated knot reminds me of the promise we made to never forgo the ardent spirits that attracted us to one another in the first place. This in spite of having made the decision to “settle down” at 21.
It’s that promise that propelled us toward a 6 mile hike up an unmarked Costa Rican trail, into a rain soaked tent among the thicket of a New Jersey forest, and, most recently, behind the Macy’s of a mall where there was a “rugged campsite” for Firefly Music Festival. It was our second festival in the span of two months and it’s safe to say it may be our last. Yes, at the tender age of 22, I am ready to renounce participation in all future music festivals because they make me feel only one thing: OLD.
And sweaty. Very, very sweaty. And subpar, lest I be wearing a flower crown. Come to think of it, music festivals make me feel uncoordinated, too, for my lack of ability to carry a hula hoop on my hips while looking like the offspring of Dionysus and Athena on magical mushrooms. The epiphany hit me like 100 Fireball shots as I stood in a muddy line at said festival to use an unusable port-a-potty.
I realized that the grip on my travel-sized Charmin was so tight, my knuckles were white. My next thought was, wait, I’m carrying travel-sized Charmin. And my husband is waiting for me at the exit with Purell. I looked around at the people waiting beside me, none of whom were carrying toiletries. I felt very uncool, like I had lost a sense of carefree that previously, I thought I had. One that would allow me to pee without wiping, or hula hoop without looking like a hopscotching tin man.
My second epiphany came as my husband and I began our walk back to the campgrounds. It was late at night and we strained our eyes to see. In the distance, I could make out a group of about 50 people sitting cross legged on the floor, blankly staring ahead. I thought we’d stumbled upon some sort of shamanic meditation but as we neared the crowd, a large sign looming above them came into view: “CHARGING STATION.”
The crowd was not practicing sanskrit yoga, they were waiting for their smartphone batteries to hit 100%.
I thought about the performances missed so festival goers could Instagram pictures of themselves lounging on technicolor-dream-coat blankets. I thought about the fact that at 11pm, I was headed to my tent with a waning buzz and the sound of the day ringing in my ears. I laughed at how embarrassed I felt when my husband asked some guy at the Foo Fighters set what a “mosh-pit” was, and cringed at the mosh-pit that followed.
My aversion towards being pushed around or hoisted upon the shoulders of a shirtless boy made me feel lame. My lack of face paint rendered me ordinary, and my sobriety deemed me prude. I spent the better part of the weekend looking at myself in comparison to the “cliched-festival-goer” and I’d forgotten what I’d come for — the music.
But music shouldn’t make you feel dated, or boring, or like your missing something extraordinary if you camelback isn’t full of vodka. So that’s why I’m done with festivals.