Coachella as a Labor of Love

As a (now former) Angeleno and avid music lover, Coachella has always been an annual “Must Do.”  In theory, the festival presents itself as the ultimate opportunity to fulfill every ADD musical taste bud you’ve ever had.  Countless bands over the course of three days take multiple stages and play to everyone’s respective heart’s delight.  It’s an audio orgy.

In practice, Coachella is a litmus test for life.  Just how bad do you want this?  Just how bad do you want to party, to dance, to see bands that you’ve been listening to religiously for weeks or years?  What are you willing to do to make this work?  Coachella isn’t just about music; it’s about a test of mettle.  In this way, Coachella is a lot like love and the getting there is like a relationship.  Love being the goal, of course, and everything else being the navigation of bullshit that it requires.

Coachella vs. Love

1.  Money

I’ve never been the boy in a relationship for obvious reasons, but I’ve heard rumors that dating a bitch can be quite costly.  These are the early stages, of course, when courtship and con-artistry is key to the panty dropping that sometimes leads to accidental love.  Whoops.  These are the first dates, the ones that boys insist on paying for to assume the role of “chivalrous gentleman.”  Dinners, movies, general gallivanting.  Boys, it’s pricey to get laid these days.

Coachella is much like the aforementioned “bitch.”  They’re both expensive.  To get there, you need to fill up your gas tank to the brim.  It’s over a 300-mile round-trip, not including the idling you’ll do for hours on end, burning fuel like we’re not in the middle of a global warming epidemic.  Next, you’ll need some sort of ticket.  That’ll cost you just shy of $300.  Lodging is also required.  Food, unless you’re a tweaker, is yet another expense.  Drugs, if you are a tweaker, will cost you some cash.

Be prepared to break that piggy bank, boys and girls.  This bitch ain’t cheap.

2.  Primping and Preening

In order to get a gentleman or lady friend, it is preferable to have good taste and grooming.  Look like you shower sometimes.  Have your clothing free of obvious stains and sweat circles.  Oh, nevermind.  None of these things are an imperative at Coachella.  Allow me to rephrase.  In both situations – in dating and Coachella – playing the part is part of the game.  You want to marry a rich dude?  Look like a rich dude’s bitch.  You want to look like really fucking super hip?  Do that.

The only way you’ll ever make it onto the subsequent Coachella fashion blogs is to dress as cool as you possibly can.  Out cool the cool people, as it were.  Don’t match on purpose.  Pull out eight of your favorite vintage lace pieces and layer the hell out of them.  Cover yourself in body paint.  Shave your head.  If you don’t feel like shaving your head, find a unicorn costume and wear that.

I can assure you, despite the way it might appear, Coachella is not about the effortless cool.  You have to try.  I know people who plan their festival outfits weeks in advance.  Each item is a carefully chosen, thought out item that the wearer believes best represents them as an individual.  Fashion as depth [insert entertained laughter here].

3.  Effort

Be prepared to work.  As the cliché goes, the best things in life ain’t easy.  The best things in life require effort.  In life, in love, in Coachella.  If your girlfriend is a hard-core Vegan and you’re madly in love with her, you’re going to have to chow down on some seitan a few times to prove it.  If you dream about Jay Z in your sleep and you’d rather die than miss him rap while wearing sunglasses at night, you’re going to have to deal with the fact that it’s going to take you time and money to do so.  If it means that much to you, you’ll do it.

Trust me, being single is a lot easier than being in a relationship (with the occasional bout of self-confidence obliterating loneliness) and going to Coachella is a shit ton more work than not going.

4.  Selective Amnesia

Every year, there is inevitably one point during Coachella – maybe in the midst of heat stroke, maybe after accidentally peeing on your own foot in a Porta Potty, maybe after forking out $40 in bottled water – when you think, Maybe this year will be my last year…Maybe I’m just not cut out for this.

Despite whatever amazing bands you’ve seen over the course of the last 48 hours, you’ll be driving the 150 or 1000 miles back from whence you came, your eyes barely open and a free hand rubbing aloe vera on your sunburned shoulders, smearing Neosporin on your blistered feet, and nursing some impending anxiety about your upcoming credit card statement.  Somewhere in that moment, you’ll question your sanity.  Who the hell does this to themselves?

Such is with love.

After someone you love – someone you’ve watched in their sleep just to see what the person you’re in love with looks like in total baby-like repose, someone you’ve cooked dinners with, met the family of, cuddled night after night after night – when that person says to you, “Hey, uh, yeah, I don’t think I love you anymore,” your heart shatters and you cry and you say to yourself, “Never again…I mean, not [sob] for awhile [sob]…Or maybe ever…I don’t know [wail].”

But inevitably, enough time passes and you forget the bad things about loving someone so much, the hurt that comes when it doesn’t work out, and you remember what love feels like when love feels good.  And you do it all over again.

Any doubt I have about Coachella eventually gets trumped with memories like Jose Gonzalez’s guitar picking under a tent, dancing barefoot to Arcade Fire, lying down under the stars during Sigur Ros, watching Bjork’s bizarre costume essentially dance itself on stage.  The excitement takes over like tingles.  The potential for magic is so readily there, you just can’t say no to it…even if it does kick you in the ass sometimes.

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