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“Memories bring back, memories bring back you”
A family member passed away this week. It had been nearly a decade since we’d spent any time together. But I couldn’t forget the impression that he made on me many years ago. We spent countless hours together watching sports, traveling, and golfing. Those days are gone, but the memories never will be.
I also spent a lot of time thinking about a friend that passed way too soon. I thought about our trip to the Coachella Valley Music Festival in 2004. I still remember so many little details about the trip. I drove down to her house near Columbus, and we flew out of that airport. I was running late and we barely made the flight to Palm Springs. I left the actual concert tickets in my checked in baggage, which made for a nervewracking flight. We arrived in Palm Springs after dark and waited to claim our bags. Coachella was a much smaller event back then. It was still in the same location, but it was only two days, there was no livestream, and there really weren’t many mainstream music acts. It was very much an indie rock and electronic music festival.
The airport — which is small anyway — was a ghost town when we arrived on the night prior to the festival. We claimed our bags (with the tickets) and found a taxi. We asked the driver to take us to the location of the festival, but we stopped at a grocery store on the way. We needed a case of water and some snacks. This was my first trip to California. I remember walking into the grocery store expecting to see celebrities or something. And everyone was just normal. Lost in the supermarket on a random Friday night in late April in the California desert.
When we got to the festival grounds, we waited in line with our tent. Instead of staying in a nearby hotel, we camped on the grounds adjacent to the festival. We got set up and went to sleep giddy with excitement.
The two-day festival itself was a whirlwind. We saw so many bands that were important to us. The Pixies had re-united that year and Coachella was one of their first shows. They were the impetus for going out to the festival. I was writing for a local alt-weekly newspaper at the time. My editor got me a press pass — again, it was much easier to get because Coachella was a smaller thing. I was able to go back and forth from the VIP area to the rest of the grounds because I had the right wristband. I remember physically bumping into Tommy Lee (of Motley Crue fame) in the backstage area while I was in line for some food. It was great to be able to float between experiences. But my friend didn’t have the same magical wristband, so I only went to the VIP area to use the bathroom or grab some water and food.
Smartphones were nowhere near as prevalent back 2004. Blackberry was the main brand, but neither of us had one of those. We had standard flip phones. But that really didn’t matter because there was very little service on the festival grounds. It led to at least one experience where we got separated and couldn’t find each other. I think it was during Radiohead’s set at the end of the first night. I remember wandering around and trying to call her and not having any service. But we eventually found each other. I don’t remember whether it was still inside the festival or if it was back at the tent.
Our flight back to Columbus left early on Monday morning, so we only grabbed a few hour of sleep after the second night of the festival ended. I don’t think we bothered to bring our tent back home with us. It was very windy in the desert. Between that and being bleary eyed and exhausted, I don’t think either of us had the Eagle Scout level patience to pack up a $50 tent for travel back to Ohio.
We arrived at the Palm Springs airport hours before our flight. I remember watching the sun rise at the Palm Springs airport. I have a picture of my friend and I that morning. The photo is blurry. It’s the perfect mix of the early morning light, the film that the photo is printed on, and the unsteady hand of the picture taker.
We both have wide smiles on our faces. We’d just had the time of our lives.
Time spent thinking of loved ones who’ve gone is never wasted time. In those memories, we see them. We also see ourselves as we once were. And when we compare our current selves to our past selves, we can’t help but see the change. And see the impact that they had on our lives.
Maroon 5 — “Memories”
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