I didn’t ride the Ferris wheel last year.
It was my first Bonnaroo and I was unsure of what to make of the sticky, sundrenched mess of people and live music. I wanted to ride the Ferris wheel, but less than I wanted not to disrupt the flow of our festival activities. There was a schedule, and despite the ample amount of time sitting in lawn chairs playing Pit (look it up, it’s amazing) and eating Easy Cheese, I was too timid to stray off on my own. The other members of my festival party had already ridden the Ferris wheel at past festivals or earlier on in the weekend so I was the only who had any desire to stand in line and climb to new heights in a circular motion.
This year, though, I had another opportunity. And as usual with second chances, it wasn’t expected.
The smell, the setup, the feel of the festival felt so familiar as if I had been more than once and more often than twelve months ago. Maybe it was the hippie environment or the insightful incrusted music, but I often fell into reflection throughout the festival, trying to find more meaning behind the events of the past year.
I shouldn’t be here, I continually thought in neither a depressed or joyful way. It may not have been the plan, but it was the reality. It was the same surreal feeling I’ve had for the last four months.
It’s interesting what a difference a year makes. In our little Bonnaroo group, we’ve all experienced changes between the 2010 festival and the 2011 one. Last year, one woman had just had her second date with a guy she met online. This year, he came with her to the festival and after they retreated to the home they now share. One man is now engaged and a doctor. Another is recently single after the end of a two and a half year relationship. And, there is me. Last year, I was on the brink of a two-year stint in Africa but now am an evacuee of two countries living at home.
My Bonnaroo ticket was a retail-therapy purchase when I didn’t get a job that I probably didn’t want that much. I didn’t have expectations or any hopes, just to escape from the flood’s devastation and the uncertainty of my life.
On the last morning of the festival, I decided that I needed to ride the Ferris wheel. My iPhone broke, anxiety of returning to my shattered childhood home had settled in, I had slept three hours the night before, dirt changed the color of my skin and a cloud of insecurity incased me as it usually does when my emotions are on the fritz. I craved fresh air and alone time.
In the sky, overseeing the landscape of 80,000 people, I forgot about it all ¬¬– the phone, the flood, the evacuation, the uncertainty. In the clouds, I didn’t care about anything.
You can’t predict what will happen and expect to plans to become reality. But when it all does come apart, you can take advantage of what you didn’t before. It may not be life changing, but a simple Ferris wheel ride is enough be thankful for.