Photo submitted by author
I grew up in a very traditional home and while I wouldn’t exactly call my upbringing strict, I will say that according to my mother, you don’t even answer the phone without your lipstick on. I have always behaved like an adult and have consistently worked at a stable job since I was sixteen, so I am not a stranger to responsibility. At the same time, I have always had a case of wanderlust and a strong, nagging desire for adventure.
In July 2012 I found myself in a transitional phase and wanting to fill a void that my adolescence left behind. With my college graduation coming up, I wanted to do something a little bold and out of my comfort zone before I left the last shreds of my foolish youth behind me. I went to my computer and thirty minutes later I had purchased my ticket for Lollapalooza along with a hotel and flight. Music has made such a huge impact on my life and spirit, and many of my best memories are closely centered around my passion for music. I knew Lollapalooza was the perfect scenario to create my own personal live soundtrack.
Chicago is unlike any city I have ever visited. The vibrancy of the downtown area was inspiring with its art museums and originality. Where else would you find a giant metallic bean and a cab with the snap of a finger at 4am? This was especially different for me having grown up in a medium-sized Southern suburb where a Tahoe and Walmart are considered necessities. And nothing from my past could have prepared me for the complete magic of a music festival. There is just something electrifying about thousands of people coming together to have a good time and share a passion.
I wandered out of the revolving glass doors of my beautiful, historic hotel downtown onto the busy sidewalk, and from the moment I set foot in Grant Park I knew my life was changed. SBTRKT was the very first show I went to, and I met him in the crowd. It was just like the “Wildfire” Little Dragon sings about, something straight out of a movie. It felt like in the blink of a boozed up eye we were holding hands and headed to Passion Pit. It was a strange feeling, like we had known each other forever. For the headliners it was a choice between The Black Keys and Bassnectar. My inner sixteen year old wanted to see Bassnectar, but I came to my senses and off to The Black Keys we went.
Before getting to the stage we watched the end of the M83 set just in time for Midnight City. As the sun was setting over the Chicago skyline, we made our way through the crowd to get a good spot. The Black Keys put on such a great show that even the thought of it still gives me chills almost a year later. After all of the great shows I saw, the best part of the weekend was sharing the experience with someone who was a complete stranger, and with that I am forever changed.
Since Lollapalooza, we have seen each other two more times. Although we both know that the long distance between our home cities is a barrier we won’t overcome, I will always cherish our short time together. We share a special connection that only a music festival romance can spark.
The start of this year’s festival season has me reflecting on my experience from last year. Even though nothing but a great friendship has developed with the guy I met, I was able for the first time to truly take a chance. The experience has changed my perspective in a way that I could never have anticipated. It taught me to be open to new experiences and to let my guard down. It also taught me that attitude is everything. Maintaining a positive outlook is not always easy, but it’s necessary. I returned to work with a much needed attitude adjustment and a completely refreshed outlook on the way I want to live my life.
As a twenty-something, I find myself somewhat blindly and shamelessly navigating through this uncertain time of my life, love, and career. If middle school was an awkward phase, being in your early twenties is a more intense version but with bills to pay. But, for the first time I feel like I am starting to find myself and to learn how to develop my passions on a deeper level.
My ticket for Lollapalooza 2013 is purchased. Round two? Don’t mind if I do!