There’s a lot to be said for emotional distance putting things in perspective.
A month ago, we had hit the first day of Bonnaroo. I look back and what the hell was I thinking? I hate being outside. I hate being in large groups of strangers. I hate the sun. I hate bugs. I hate the smell of weed. I love esoteric music, but I can get that from the comfort of my Google Play account in my air conditioned apartment. Instead of kicking myself over it, I have to laugh. It was doomed to fail from the start. Most of it was the sleep deprivation. I totally understand why that’s used as a method of torture. However, I wouldn’t be ready to tell you the nuclear weapon launch codes. I’d have already ripped off your head and started using it as a pillow. The next dude in the door would have his work cut out for him.
Give yourself a little emotional distance. You may not be able to laugh at a situation, but you can get a better perspective. Whatever you’re struggling with, separate yourself as much as you can. Even a quarter of an inch is more than you were able to see before. You’ve got this. Someday, it’ll make a great story.
Confession time: I didn’t make it through Bonnaroo.
It was a drug festival briefly interrupted by music. I don’t know about you, fair readers, but I hear “music festival” and think that bands will be playing more or less all day. Right? Wrong! We got there Wednesday night and the music didn’t start until Thursday afternoon around 2. The schedule was sparse at best until Friday late afternoon and early evening. It was the same deal every day. Music would start around 3p and go until 1 or 2 in the morning. What’s wrong with starting acts at 10a? Or even 11a? It was ridiculous to have to kill what amounted to an entire work day before the music even started. Wasn’t that the whole point of this event in the first place? When we were able to see a band, the sound was frequently so bad all we could hear was the bass. I know enough sound engineering to know it doesn’t have to be poor quality. Maybe the band doesn’t want the audience to hear them singing? I understand an outdoor event has different requirements for acoustics. Several of the bands were playing in a “tent” which was a metal structure built like a barn without the doors. The energy of the crowd really sucked. Cake was the perfect example. They were trying to get the crowd amped up and failing miserably. By yesterday afternoon, we said “fuck it”, packed up our stuff, and drove off.
In spite of the fact the music didn’t start until the afternoon, we never got to sleep past 8a. Our neighbors would get up, start blasting music between 730 & 8, then start the day with Miller Lite and bong hits. I’m not an idiot. I knew there would be plenty of smoking of substances, both legal & illegal. I didn’t expect it to be an omnipresent smell. I HATE the smell of pot. I’m all for it being legal. I’m all for people getting as high as they want. Just don’t do it around me because I’ll barf on your shoes. Unless you want me to barf on your shoes, in which case we have a whole different set of issues. I can’t count the number of times we had to get up and move only to be assaulted by the smell 15 minutes later. I’ll have the smell of dirty hippie in my hair for days. This was ignoring the completely they charged to use the showers, the bathrooms were a step below those in Gitmo, the food was mediocre & seriously overpriced, and for all their hooting and honking about how eco-friendly the event was supposed to be, trash was literally strewn all over the ground. How hard is it to throw out your food containers when you have to get up anyway?
There were a few positive notes. We found a new comedian we really like in the form of Brad Williams. We walked well over the 10,000 step a day goal set by the pedometer, and learned a new joke:
What does a hippie say when you try & get him off your couch? Namaste.
I learned that if I want to attend a music festival, I’ll pick one that allows me to come and go as I please. There are plenty of 1 & 2 day events around here. If I’m really looking for new sound, I’ll hit up Pandora or Spotify. It was over $1000 for each of us down the drain, but we know better than to waste that much again.
In less than a week, Boy & I will be setting off to sit in a field for 4 days listening to a bunch of obscure bands. This is also known as going to Bonnaroo. For those unaware, it’s arguably the largest music festival east of the Mississippi River. One of my (many) ex-boyfriends is big into obscure music & introduced me to a lot of the artists playing the festival. I was curious to see how many of the acts he had recommended to me and if there were any I missed. I have a bunch of my old texts from previous phones saved in my email (thanks to Boy for figuring that one out for me). Along with musical advice cached in those old texts, I found a girl who offered a very, very sobering view of early to mid trauma recovery.
A history of my drinking goes something along this timeline. I graduated from college in 2007. By that point, I was already a heavy drinker. My abuser and I were in the same year. He moved back to New Orleans and I stayed behind. I was just out of college, so it wasn’t weird. I kept up my heavy drinking habits until 2010. By that point, most of my friends rarely drank unless it was a bachelor / bachelorette party. I did my first stint in AA for about 9 months starting in 2010. I bounced on and off the wagon from the summer of 2011 through 2012. I finally broke the cycle last year. For reference, this ex and I met in 2009 and broke up after about 5 months. We reconnected again for reasons I don’t remember in 2012. As I read through the old messages, I got a painfully stark view of who I was. I only outright mentioned a hangover once, but I knew I was omitting many more. I would text him at all hours of the night. If he minded, he never said anything. If anything, he encouraged the behaviour. He’s 15 years older than me with 2 kids. I know he got a contact high off of having a party girl ex sharing pretty much everything. That’s not a jab at him even if it sounds like it. He knew just how hard I could party and how much detail I was willing to share. If I ever see him again, he’ll recognize the outside (I’m pretty damn hard to miss). The minute I open my mouth, though, he wouldn’t recognize me. There was a time where I would have been horribly embarrassed to read those texts, much less openly share the basic content. Until recently, I had the hardest time looking back at that girl and forgiving her actions, mistakes, and shortcomings. Now I look back at her and only feel sympathy and sadness. You know that piece of paper with the target that says “bang head here until pain stops”? That was her method of trying to stop the pain. Then the numbness wears off and it’s back to drinking, disordered eating, and fucking anything with a penis and a pulse. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Given both the stereotypes and literature sent to us by the Bonnaroo organizers, there will be no shortage of alcohol and drugs. The 2009 me would have spent the whole time completely wasted looking for aforementioned penis and pulse and ditching whoever I was with, scaring the hell out of them in the process. The 2014 me will slather myself in sunscreen, pull up a chair, and enjoy the music; all while staying properly hydrated. As nutty as it sounds, I’m glad to have that perspective. I don’t kick myself for what I did. Rather, I can bask in what I do today, the memories I’ll get to actually remember, and appreciate someone from my past who introduced me to a whole genre I would have otherwise missed.
I’ll try to remember to set everything to auto-post while I’m off. Let’s see if I’ll actually remember it.