In 1997 I went to my first Warped Tour. It was notable for a lot of reasons, but the one I’d like to point out today is this: I went alone.
I was barely 17. My mom, in a stroke of genius which probably saved my life, had set a policy where I was allowed to drive basically where ever I wanted, but I was not allowed to have people with me in the car. Even if my friends had wanted to go, I couldn’t drive them without breaking the rules, and most of them did not have their own cars. Most of them had no idea why I’d want to go to a ‘warped tour’ anyway.
I went, I baked in the sun (I wore jeans because it was at an inside venue- it wasn’t- it was at that venue’s parking lot), and I was introduced to a world of music I didn’t know existed. It was a wonderful day.
I specifically remember choosing to watch some other band instead of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones because I didn’t know who the Bosstones were. Sometimes I make stupid choices.
I have attended a few of these kinds of festivals since- and with one exception, I have always gone alone, and I’ve always gone looking for the same enlightenment I found in 1997. I’ve typically found it- this weekend I find myself at Fun Fun Fun Fest, and I’ve already discovered plenty (Melt Banana, I’m looking at you), but this time, the being alone is different. It’s reminding me of just how far away I am from those Warped Tour visits in Florida. It’s incredibly isolating. There were times today where I almost felt I was an outside observer, watching the festival and the person walking through it, not actually there at all.
I found myself in a park today with thousands of other humans, and I didn’t know any of them. I can’t begin to accurately estimate how many people were there, but I’d imagine it eclipsed the population of the city I grew up in. In that city, I knew almost everyone. In that park, I knew (and know, when I go back tomorrow) no one. That’s bizarre.
I can’t call the feeling good, or bad, or lonely, or depressing, or anything aside from bizarre. I really haven’t adapted to the city life yet- the fact that there are people around is just… different… than everything I’ve been used to. I know that’s a silly thing to say but it’s true, and it’s a lie to say it’s not having an impact on me.
I’m not one to make friends. I just don’t do it, not because I don’t like people, but because I don’t have bandwidth. I often feel too thin already, simply trying to be social enough to have my kids grow up well adjusted and have my wife feel like I don’t hate her. Friends, well, I care deeply about the friends I have, and I’d expect to form the same kinds of bonds with new ones- and I’m not sure I have time for that.
I’m also the kind of intensely private and introverted person that would create a blog that’s time-shifted simply because I don’t want people to read it until later. That means two things: 1) I don’t really need friends, and acceptance, and all those things normal seem to need, and 2) I’m probably not the easiest person to get to know or even put up with initially. We all know I’m not going to start a conversation with a stranger.
Or, you know, I could just be full of shit.
Because it could be that I’m flat-ass wrong on everything friendship-related I’ve written above. It could be that I need friends and acceptance, not just online from my friends from old times, but live and in person. It very well could be that I am easy to get to know, that I’m not annoying or weird but actually downright interesting. It could even be that I have plenty of bandwidth for more people in my life.
It could be that I’m just scared, and coming up with excuses to not face those fears.
I’ve been slowly writing a book- you’ve probably never heard of it. Central to the story is an isolated person (Juliet) who would like to believe she wants to stay that way. Over the course of the story, Juliet becomes much less isolated, thanks to an outsider (Teresa) reaching to her and showing her new experiences, and exposing suppressed desires within Juliet to express herself and experience more. Eventually, the isolated and secretly lost Juliet becomes the engaged person she never knew she wanted to be.
Sometimes I’m Juliet, happy with what I am and desperately wanting to stay exactly as I am. I think this has to do with the fact that Austin is still bizarre. A large part of me is still very convinced that I’m here on a temporary assignment, that soon I’ll be going back to that little town I started life in, going back to playing with hardware and setting up servers, going back to… going nowhere. I’m actually very worried that this part of me will create a self-fulfilling prophecy, that the huge part of my mind telling me to stay what I am will convince me that I’m not good enough for the life I have now, or worse, convince me that things used to be better.
Sometimes I’m the little voice in Juliet’s head, feeling that not only is the past wrong, what I am now is still wrong, and I need to radically change. Thankfully, that’s a very small voice. I try not to pay attention to it- especially when the ideas for ‘radical change’ it comes up with include going back to how things used to be ;-P
But this weekend, and more often than I’ll admit, I desperately wish I was Teresa. I wish I had someone with me to share experiences with, someone to show what a music festival is, someone to explain cars and airplanes and computers to. Someone to give experiences to.
Granted, yes, I have children and I’m able to do these kinds of things with them, and I love doing that- but what I am talking about is ever-so-slightly different.
I’m talking about showing things to someone who can learn and accept the new experience fully, and have a discussion intelligently and adult-like afterwards- because it’s that kind of interaction that makes a music festival (or anything else) ten times more interesting. Without it, I have only myself to talk to. And this delayed diary.
I’m not bad company. I do like to be alone and take it all in, and I really hate being interrupted- and it’s hard to interrupt myself (though I manage to do it).
It was amazing sitting on the lawn, eyes closed, feeling the breeze and listening to Bleached. And since 1997, that’s been enough.
I’m confused as to why it’s not enough anymore. And frankly, scared too.
In my little town growing up, I spent a lot of time alone and really liked it, I was good company. Now, it’s nearly impossible to be alone. Perhaps it’s simply needing someone to talk to, since I really can’t talk to myself anymore?