My younger brother Brack is the reason this all started. He went to Bonnaroo last year. And Lollapalooza, Voodoo Fest, Nocturnal Fest, and a host of other festivals I can't remember. Bonnaroo was his favorite, though, and he talked about it nonstop. Sound familiar? It took three months for my husband and me to decide to go (you'll read about that later this week) but once we were "in," Brack became the expert. Annoyingly so. I'll be the first to admit that some of his advice was a little out there, but once we made it to the farm, I realized he was right. About (almost) everything. Which was even more annoying.
1. The Bird
Brack was practically hopping with excitement. So what was his reasoning behind the stick? He could hold it up over the heads of others and our group could find each other. Because we couldn't just meet at a stage or food stand or something a little less insane, right?
Nope. We couldn't. When you've got a large percentage of 115,000 people crowding into a relatively small space, you can't meet at the beer stand. Even if you can, you can't keep up with your friend in front of you as you snake through the crowd to find a spot. So the bird became "The Bird" and a lifesaver. Who would've thought?
Oh wait. Brack did.
2. Water. Water. Water.
Okay, I knew he was somewhat right about the water. We needed a lot of it. Walking to and from Centeroo (the center of the farm, where all the stages and attractions were located) was taxing in the 95-degree heat. We were lucky, too, because we were only a half or three-fourths a mile from it; others were an hour or so walk away. His advice to freeze a couple of cases to put in the bottom of the cooler was genius, too. On our third and fourth day, we still had cool, icy water. Ahhhh…
3. The Bathroom
You think I'm talking about the porta-potties, right? Well, you're wrong. Sorta. But since you're wondering, there were plenty and kept relatively clean. We were lucky to be close enough for convenience yet far enough to avoid the smell. There, that's done.
No, what I'm talking about is my 'frequency of use.' Which is a fancy way of saying, "how often I needed to pee." You see, I have a tiny bladder. In fact, this tiny bladder caused me big problems before we even made it through the gate (read about THAT catastrophe next). Without a doubt, this was my biggest worry before Bonnaroo -- I didn't want to spend the entire time in the john. But Brack's profound advice? "Don't worry. You'll sweat it all out."
Great. Thanks. Big help.
But once again, he was right. Our first full day there, I "used the facilities" once at 7:30 a.m. and not again 'til 5:30 p.m. If you're wondering why I'm telling you about my bathroom visits, let me stress again how worried I was.
As it turns out, for no good reason.
"There's no reason to shower. By the time you make it back to your tent, you're sweating and covered in dust again." -- Brack
"What. Ever. There is absolutely no way I'm not showering everyday." -- Me
|The line for the showers|
Oh yes. And by the time I make it back to my tent, I am sweating and covered in dust again.
So this one seems a little lame. As I already said, Brack talked about it nonstop after he got back last year. But I'll be honest: there were times last weekend when I cursed Bonnaroo and swore I'd never come back to that stupid farm with all its stupid hippies. But then I'd change my mind. I've saved the biggest revelation for its very own post, but here are a few of the lesser-but-still-relevant reasons:
- Not Showering: As already mentioned, I wasn't a fan of the showers. In fact, I only showered once. And I'm the girl who showers at night before bed and wakes up in the morning feeling dirty from sleep. I take a shower before going anywhere. I can't not wash my hair. You get the point. So there was something liberating about not only being dirty, but not feeling dirty.
- Sleeping in 95-degree heat on the ground: Our first day there, once we'd left at 2 a.m., waited four hours in the car line, had a major "incident," set up our campsite, and waited in line for an hour to get into Centeroo… I'd been awake for 34 hours. I knew if I didn't get some sleep, I'd be miserable the rest of the weekend. So I made my way back to our campsite, where we hadn't blown up the air mattress yet, and collapsed inside the sauna that was our tent. On the ground. I don't think I even took off my shoes. Two days later Ryan and I spread a blanket under our pop-up tent, brought out the pillows and took a midday nap, as well. In fact, I slept like a baby the entire time. It's mind-boggling to me. Yes, exhaustion played a major part - but I did it. Me, the girl who hates the heat and camping and all that goes with it. I did it, and without complaint. Well... not too much complaint.
- Not looking in a mirror or brushing hair: So yes, this sorta goes along with the not showering, but it must be said. I went two days without looking in a mirror. Think about how many times a day we look in a mirror. I knew I wouldn't worry about makeup (in fact, I didn't bring any with me) but I always - always - wear mascara. I have blond eyelashes, so I must. But there were a few days when I didn't. Not to make a statement but because I never thought about it. There were days I didn't brush my hair, either. Granted, I had it cut short before we left so I wouldn't need to worry about it, but still. I'd wake up, put on my bandana, and was ready to go. Never even thought about brushing. Yes, I didn't look my best (as you can see by my picture), but again, I'm forced to use the word "liberating."
Brack was right. I'm grateful I had such good advice to help me prepare, and even though I thought he was crazy at times, I'm glad I got to share this experience. This post is dedicated to him and his hippie spirit, which I both envy and admire. Cause I need freedom now and I need to know how to live my life as it's meant to be... - The Cave, Mumford & Sons
Click here to read 'Tis Better to Show Your Tush (Lessons from a First-Time 'Rooer) -- and by all means, follow me on Facebook!