Scrolling through some older posts and I found this one! It’s a nice little reminder of when I was less afraid to experiment with my writing – and less afraid to post it!
We sit on cold steps outside venues, the icy stone making itself known through cut off shorts and brightly coloured tights. We wear t-shirts that proclaim the name of the band we saw the night before, bowing to the unspoken rule that you never dress for the show you’re at, only the shows you’ve seen. Our shoes are named, Patrick and Pete, Griffiths and Day. Our phones, our cameras christened too. Our bags are signed, waiting by day in lines at festivals, by night beside the tour bus or, as we get older and the bands get less famous, by the bar. A few drinks, a quick chat, and out comes the Sharpie. That’s not a euphemism.
We make friends with the people on one side of us, the others we already know from the show in Manchester, Liverpool, that one time with the dry bar in Carlisle. We judge the girls a little further each way in the queue, because we’re teenagers and we think feminist is a dirty word and all the boys in all the bands we like are mad at the girls that hurt them and we can’t differentiate between those girls and these ones. We’ll figure it out one day, but we’ll still sing the songs.
It’s routine, in a way I won’t be able to explain ten years later. As rehearsed as the performance itself but filled with that same staged chaos that makes it seem otherwise. Railcard return tickets, drinking ciders in the toilets, buying booze for our underage friends, a dash for the last train. It is our Monday, Wednesday, Thursday. I will remember these things the most: the people, the music, the ringing in my ears that won’t go away until I do – for good – and the cold. It always seems to be cold.
I am no longer muddy and tired from festival weekends. My ears ring once every six months, instead of for six days straight. Shows aren’t £8.50 a ticket (try $85, and yes, the shift from pounds to dollars is intentional), the crew has all but disbanded, some of the bands disbanded too.
But I’m warm. I sit on a soft sofa in short pyjamas, baring legs I can’t be bothered to shave, cuddled up to a man that doesn’t give a shit if I do or if I don’t, and who doesn’t seem to be mad at the girls he was mad at when he was eighteen. My dog is named, like my shoes once were, but it’s his own – Chester – and it’s not inspired by a singer from a band that occasionally cycles round when I set my playlist to random. I still wear the t-shirts, though they’re tighter than they used to be, and I’ve lost more than I care to think about to that terrible phase when I cut them to ribbons, tied them tight, and thought I looked like Kat Von D. Now I narrow my eyes when people say her name, because I’m an adult with opinions about things like vaccinating your kids.
It’s routine, in a way I wouldn’t be able to explain to the girl who sat on cold steps, three times a week, somehow miraculously avoiding haemorrhoids. Cider doesn’t agree with me and vodka tastes like hairspray and all my friends are old enough to drink and I have an app on my phone to make sure I get home without worrying about that dreaded last train. I can’t remember the last time I was allowed a discount card based on being under a certain age. But I’m happy in so many of the same ways.
I’m surrounded by people I love, I’m engaging with people I admire, I’m finding heart and hope in popular culture – albeit a different medium. More GLOW than All Time Low, these days. And Lord knows if you put a drink in my hand and a good song on, I’ll still be shoulder dancing (don’t ask) till I drop.
But still I remember the people, the music, the ringing in my ears, and the cold. I’ve acclimatised now, to the point where a Brisbane 17° feels like a Preston 3°, and if I sit at the bus stop, with my headphones in and let my phone choose the tunes, I can almost believe that my black work skirt is a pair of white jean shorts, that my black tights are tartan. I still see the music videos I imagined, my heart still swells on a breakdown, and I’ve still got a tattoo on my wrist that reminds me where I’ve been and sends me where I need to go.