in celebration of ... / by laurel

Indio, California.

We are baking in the flippant brutality of the late afternoon sun. Surrounded by festival goers and feeling like I might choke in the heat, I found an unlikely patch of shade; eternal youth casts a long shadow. Even still, I could feel the sweat tracing a slippery path from the nape of my neck, eddying in a pool at small of my back.


The music is good; it always is. But, like the rays of sun and curling filaments of spent reefers, I was beneath its immediate grasp, legs bent into a pretzel shape on the matted grass. The crowd here is mostly in good spirits, even if those spirits are slightly tempered by the blood-boiling heat. Perhaps I'm exaggerating, but I do feel that a blissful mish-mash of bodies willing to devote themselves to spastically choreographed dancing even once the mercury has hit triple digits deserves a mention. Gangly arms, slick shoulders, and writhing torsos--skeletons wrapped in muscles, draped in skin, dripping with gauzy tunics and nylon short-shorts--the critical masses, for once leaving their 'ironic' disdain for purely felt joy at home. And it is a joyous thing; the squirming glob of youth, defying temperature and creature comforts and pinched wallets simply to be here now.

A few hours later, after slogging through our body weight in Aquafina, we were spinning, nearly crushed under the incredible weight of euphoria. Another band was playing--a different tune, a different singer, a different time--but it was all the same. We were kids, sick with our own indestructible fervor: fevered and flushed at the thought that some things just aren't meant to last. But the shadows of our enthusiasm were drawn taut over the field and the dust from the ground drew a map on our legs, tracing steps straight to our grimy, imperishable hearts.

Even 125 miles away, caked as I was in SPF 45, cigarette smoke, and wanderlust, the only thing I could think about was Los Angeles. We all came from there, anyway. Every one of us, even those who claimed a stamp on their passport to get here. As I watched the hairs on my arm bleach pale and snowy white in the relentless glare of the sun, I decided to be young forever. It seemed to be the only rebellion against the planet fifty times the size of earth, the white-hot bully whose core bubbles with a magma and mirth. Stay young forever! The music thudded against the insides of my skull and I spread an even film of sunscreen and sweat and good intentions across my bare shoulders. Always remember this! Here, in the messy epicenter of my twenties, at a music festival by no means historic (yawny hipsters would snarl, "I've had better" and harken back to the days when such-and-such a band reunited at such-and-such a time). And don't forget to wear sunscreen!

Duly noted.