It’s Friday at 11 AM. I get a phone call from a friend saying he has a ticket for me and, even better, it’s free. I want to leap through the phone and squeeze his cheeks but I can’t so I resort to saying “I fucking love you” while sitting next to my mother driving on the 101. The shows start in an hour and I’m already late. It’s go time.
Before I left New York I had packed specific items for my Coachella adventure. Coachella is like a fashion battleground. Be prepared for war. The first was a see-through calf-length black lace skirt from The Limited 1987 Collection and the second was a see-through cheetah print skirt, also knee-length and with an elastic waistband. Kelly Kapowski dreamed about this shit in her sleep.
But, as is the case sometimes, my stylistic impulses go unrewarded and in the end I can’t be bothered with picking the right undergarments to put on display for 75,000 concertgoers. In a rush, I throw on the first thing I see rolled up in a ball in my old bedroom: a leopard print, tie-at-the-waist dress that I tear the shoulder pads out of while standing next to my sink. When I turn around I remember that I need to pin up the slit in the back of the skirt that allows a full view of both butt cheeks. Now, that won’t do.
By the time I leave, it’s already 1 PM. I have wasted two hours farting around and drinking lattes while my mom walks me through her new and improved backyard. The first band I want to see goes on around 4 and Indio is only two and a half hours away. What’s the rush?
As I pull onto the 101 from Woodland Hills, I already see brake lights. Unless there is an accident in the next two miles causing the holdup, this is generally a bad sign. It’s twenty-five miles to downtown and if my jumpstart into this journey is off to a roaring 18 MPH, I’m pretty much screwed. But as I continue driving I realize there’s no accident, there’s just a billion people living in Los Angeles now and every one of them feels the need to be on my damn freeway.
The 101 is so bad that when the 405 presents itself as a potentially faster moving option, I get on it. Anyone who has ever lived in LA knows that to fully commit to the 405 is borderline suicide. But today, I mean business. I’m getting to Indio, no matter what.
While the 405 is actually 1/10th of the hideous beast it usually is, the 10 proves to be a real bitch. It takes me so long to get from the Fairfax exit to the La Brea exit, that I’ve forgotten I’m even on the 10 Freeway. My brain is actually having difficulty perceiving just how slow I am traveling. Frankly, I could walk faster.
Two and a half hours later and I have traveled 48.2 miles. I’m honestly contemplating just heading back to LA and calling it a day. My average speed has been a paltry 20-ish MPH. The prospect of seeing a few of my favorite acts perform in the flesh is becoming a total fantasy. I’ve got over one hundred miles to go. La Roux at 5 PM? Yeah, let me know how that goes.
Had I known I would be in the car for this many consecutive hours, I would have packed provisions. All I grabbed from my mother’s house was a box of gluten free brown rice crackers and some trail mix, both of which fall between my legs and get stuck in the cracks of my seat. I have run out of water hours ago, but that’s probably for the best. As Puffy once said, “More water, more pit stops.”
Only when I am thirty miles out of Indio am I actually able to get my car up to 60 MPH. Sweet release. I drive past the giant windmills while rubbing life back into the sides of my legs that went numb around 4 PM. When I exit the freeway at Washington Blvd. It is roughly 6 PM. Five hours. Five freaking hours.
But wait, there’s more.
Getting off at Washington turns out to be a brief and blessed accident. The road is suspiciously clear and for a second I think, Is Coachella even happening today? The lack of parking-lot dense traffic is both welcome and confusing. When I reach 48th Avenue I remember I need to take a left and head in the direction of the polo fields. Still clear. Weird.
Nearing Jefferson Blvd, traffic begins to grind to a halt. From this point forward, I could theoretically turn my car off, put it in neutral, and push it for the next mile – a journey that takes me another two and a half hours.
What do you do while sitting in a car for that long, you ask? Allow me to enlighten you. The following are from notes I took in my Moleskin while driving.
Words from Hades:
“Wind blows through palm and citrus trees and through my sort of natural blonde hair. An hour on Jefferson so far. 8 billion people walk past me. The sun goes down. No need for sun block today. A man the color of old cheap chocolate rides past me on a bicycle. I wish I drove a Prius. Two emaciated boys in front of me play Chinese Fire Drill in a blue Honda Civic, although “drill” infers a sense of urgency, but there’s nowhere to go so that’s hardly the case. People throw cigarette butts out of windows. Some boy in obnoxious neon glasses yells for me to give him my ticket because I’m by myself and “going solo to Coachella isn’t cool!” I resist the urge to get out of my car and punch him in his stupid face. They pass by me quickly. I get out and stretch my hamstrings. I turn on my headlights. Somewhere on my dashboard “2:00h” blinks for the third time today. Six hours. Motherfucker. I’m approaching about the same travel time as my flight from New York to Burbank yesterday. Yesterday! Good Lord, my hips hurt. I get out and stretch again. I feel like taking a piss in the rosebushes because it’s already been two hours since I got off of the freeway. A girl most likely on drugs sits down on the side of the road in protest while a boy in a green shirt, presumably her boyfriend, pleads with her to get up. He pulls on her skinny arms attached to a skinny torso barely covered with denim overalls and a bikini top. She pulls herself upright and travels lazily forward. Oh youth. Fuck this traffic.”
At 8:20 PM I pull into a parking spot in the last lot at the polo fields, totally ready to not rabble rouse.