Every once in a while we are granted a rare opportunity to escape the reality of our everyday. This past weekend I left the world of laundry and tantrums, carpools and playdates, and obligations and schedules. I stepped back into the carefree days of another lifetime – days of after-hour bars and loud music, sleeping late and wasting time, self-indulgence and irresponsibility.
For the second year in a row, my husband and I attended the Pitchfork Music Festival. After enjoying a long lunch and a few cocktails, we arrived fashionably late for Saturday’s lineup.
Later that afternoon, we anxiously waited to see Sleigh Bells, one of our favorite bands, perform. Armed with spiked Vitamin Water, we stood among the mass of other indie music aficionados. We talked about the other bands we planned to see that day. We marveled at the unexpectedly amazing poetry reading we had stumbled upon as we wasted time between acts (us at a poetry reading – what?!?), and my husband gushed about the cute pixie singer for the Cults (one of the earlier bands).
We waited and waited and waited as the sun blazed, burning away the last cloudy remnants of the earlier rainstorms. Suddenly, the sound of a screeching guitar was heard slightly off stage. The lead singer walked out in a leather motorcycle jacket, cut-off denim shorts, and ripped fishnets, clutching the microphone close to her mouth as she welcomed the throngs of fans. Energized screams cut through the summer air.
Before I knew it, bodies were crushed against me. The crowd of excited fans moved as a singular unit, like a wave quickly washing forward to the stage and then slowly falling back away. Within minutes, my body was dripping with my own sweat, the sweat of others, and water that sprayed down from open bottles of Dasani launched in the air.
I clutched my husband’s hand as he helped move us ever closer to the stage with each surge of the crowd. Soon enough, we were so close that I could see the small bruise above the lead singer’s left knee. The band played on – True Shred Guitar, You Lost Me, Comeback Kid – and, with each surge of the crowd, my Havaianas slipped further into the sludgy earth. I prayed I wouldn’t fall.
Personal boundaries were nonexistent. The leg of a stranger was inadvertently pressed intimately close to my own. I clutched my husband’s hand tighter, even though there were other bodies now separating us.
For forty-five minutes, my face burned, my body ached, and I feared I would be swallowed by the swelling throng of eager fans.
For forty-five minutes, my throat grew hoarse as I sang along with the crowd.
For forty-five minutes, my feet screamed as they were stepped on and crushed under the weight of other bodies.
For forty-five minutes, I laughed, I screamed, I sweat more than I think I ever have before.
For forty-five minutes, I lost all control of my own body, and was at the mercy of the movements of those around me.
For forty-five minutes, I felt energized, a little scared, and deliriously happy.
For forty-five minutes, I felt completely and utterly alive.
And that night, when I returned home to our house in the suburbs, scrubbed the caked mud from my feet, and crawled under the soft, familiar covers of my bed, I thanked God that I would have a whole year to enjoy my quiet everyday reality and prepare myself for that mayhem again.