Even though I skipped out on doing my Nerd Moment last week, I figured I would tell you kiddies a story this week. It’s a story that is near and dear to my heart. It defines one of the most bittersweet, terrifying and exhilarating moments in my life. It was the summer of 2007 when it happened. If you’ve become my friend since this moment in my life, you’ve heard the story. It’s the tale of how I went to Warped Tour in Noblesville, IN and my life hasn’t been the same since. It was the summer before my freshman year of college and I had never been to a concert by myself. It was the summer of Riot! being my lifeblood. The summer where I forgot everyone’s opinions of what I needed to be and truly became myself.
I was naive. Every human at some point in their lives is such; however, you have an expiration date of this trait. Once you reach a certain age, naivete transforms into ignorance. I had reached this unfortunate destination without a guide, someone to point one way or the other. I was 18 and had no idea what was ahead of me. I only knew that I really, really liked theatre and was going to college to study it in less than a month. I wasn’t a rebellious youth with fire in her eyes. I wasn’t sure how to be a cog in a machine either. I was only taught to be fearful like everyone else before me, to live in the shadowy eyes of monsters. I was screwed.
As you can see in the picture above, I had attempted to look cute for the day. It was a sweltering 90-something-hotter-than-tits degrees; needless to say, I did not keep my cuteness for very long. I ended up buying a brand new outfit there actually: a skull tank top and the most ridiculous-looking booty shorts. My body was dripping with a mixture of sweat and water from a hose I stood under three separate times throughout the day. I was looking pretty damn attractive (See: sarcasm). I watched an array of bands I don’t remember, but I do recall discovering this pretty sweet band, Vincent Black Shadow (watch this video of my favorite song of theirs, “Metro“). Finally, 6:00 p.m. hit and Paramore was going to be on in an hour. I made my way over to their stage and Killswitch Engage was on. I had no idea who they were at the time, so I looked around for some shade. I found a nice semi to sit under. I sat next to a lot of kids making out. I bet you think I’m kidding.
Killswitch announced that it was their last song; Paramore would be on next. I hopped up and started my descent into the chaos. I was but a confused dancing ant in a sea of other confused dancing ants. The mosh pit had a pulse and Killswitch Engage had its fingers on it. Jarring guitar riffs filled the air as I slipped through the crowd, trying hard to not get stomped on. I knew no one. I could see no one that I knew. Up until this point in my life, I’d never pushed myself to be completely and 100% alone. In this moment, I was naked of comfort, empty of the ordinary. I wasn’t forced to smile. I wasn’t told to “be good”. All of these beating hearts so close in proximity and I, at last, felt the intoxicating high of adolescence leaving my body. I didn’t know that getting dirt in your hair, hands, eyes or throat could make you feel so clean. I crawled underneath and in between sweaty, smelly teenagers. I had successfully pushed myself to the second row. I clutched my tiny hands around my disposable camera (yeah, I didn’t have a camera phone until I was in college. *rolls eyes*). I felt vomit in my throat. My palms were so sweaty that I thought I’d drop my camera.
“What the fuck have I done?”, I thought.
That’s when I heard it. The last time I could really hear full well. “Hello everybody! We. Are. PARAMORE!”
I couldn’t see anything or really hear much of anything at that point. I am quite short, 5’1 to be exact, so the second Hayley Williams started bouncing around, my vision became pretty obscured. I didn’t care. I stood, dazed and actually, quite confused. Do I jump? Do I scream? I found myself lost, trying to figure out the simple act of showing that I was entertained. Without any warning, I felt myself tearing up. All sound stopped, my surroundings blurry. I truly felt the gravity of where I was in life. “This is what being alone feels like?” I thought. I looked at my hands, my feet, tugged at my tank top–I felt like myself, yet someone with much more confidence. Someone who could stand on her own two feet and make her own decisions. For a teenager that had been told, “You should feel this way. You should think this way”; I felt almost drunk with power over my own life. Finally, I shook myself out of it and held my camera high up above my head trying to snap pictures…really, really bad pictures.
A chick a little ways behind me in her late 20s noticed my failed attempts of jumping and snapping pictures with a shitty disposable camera and she yelled in my general direction, “Do you want me to take a picture for you?” I swiped the sweaty hair out of my face and said, “Yes please!” I imagine I probably looked like a wet puppy; however, she took this pretty bad ass, yet slightly blurry full band shot:
They ended their set with “Misery Business” which made the crowd go absolutely nutso, including me, of course. “Misery Business” was my jam. My head was spinning, my voice was already growing hoarse and I was in a state of absolute, total bliss. After Hayley pranced away like the little pixie she is, I stood in my same spot. I slowly looked down and I am covered in mud. I felt my hair and it felt like I’d joined a hair metal band (I wish I still had the after-Warped pic because I looked like one hot damn mess). The crowd had pretty much dissipated leaving trails of crumbled up cans of water, kicking up dust behind them. I finally regained the ability to move and I almost fell on my face. I looked down once more and I had broken both of my flip flops.
I remember my parent’s faces whenever I walked back into the house. My mom looked me over like, “What the hell happened to you?” (Her trademark look). Dad pretty much just nodded and smiled (his trademark look). I just looked at them both totally wordless. How was to explain to my parents that their little girl was no longer? How was I to explain such a magical, beautiful experience using actual words? I shook my head with my mouth wide open (my lips were even moving slightly). Finally, I said the only words that could come to my head, “That. Was. Awesome!”
While some may say that a concert is an untraditional way to find yourself, I did find myself that day. I like to think I am a better person because of these simple words:
“I’m not so naive
My sorry eyes can see
The way you fight shy
Of almost everything
Well, if you give up
You’ll get what you deserve.”
-Paramore, “That’s What You Get”
What was it like for you when you first found yourself? Let me know in the comments!