Two months ago, I said I was way too old to go to Coachella, and now here I am, packing. Coachella is upon me. My boyfriend and I are leaving tonight after he gets done with work. I have no idea what to expect, and I won’t lie – I am full of trepidation. Let’s be honest: Where does a forty-one-year old, divorced mother of two, attending the event with her twenty-four-year old boyfriend fit into this mix? Does this ritual hold any context for me? Will I be the High Priestess? The Tribal Elder? The Medicine Woman? Or am I the old lady clutching her purse worried that her credit cards will be stolen. I can’t say for sure. But there will be plenty of obstacles to overcome, that’s for certain. For starters, I will be trapped in the desert (once we park, we cannot leave). Never mind trying to get the shuttles to the various stages, and trying to coordinate my set list with that of my boyfriends (I refuse to go hear the Cribs), there are other very serious obstacles that must be overcome. Procurement of food, tent sleeping, and public bathing come to mind. Twenty-five thousand people in the desert, a couple hundred porta-potties, this will be no simple feat, and per my mother’s advice I’m bringing toilet paper.
The screenwriter in me can see it all so clearly. There’s ME — the befuddled heroine of this misadventure trying to control her urge to give career advice to throngs of 20somethings while simultaneously beating off young, nubile girls bent on attacking my boyfriend. There’s the BEST FRIEND in Brooklyn on high ‘text message’ alert. I should add that she is busy working on the edit for her latest book READING WOMEN: How The Great Books of Feminism Changed my Life – which seems sort of ironic to me for some reason. There are the RANDOM WACKY PEOPLE I’m sure I will meet in the pursuit of music, food and felt hat making (ever since I saw the Cooper Hewitt exhibit on felt I’ve been hooked). And of course there is THE LOVE INTEREST, my boyfriend, who will be doubling as THE GUIDE (my Virgil if you will), although this is assuming he doesn’t get completely smashed and disappear on me, which he promised he won’t do, but he’s English and likes to drink, “It’s cultural,’ as he likes to say… so who knows.
Finally there’s the higher purpose for my character. Loosely defined: My ‘want’ or my ‘need’… And after considerable thought I’ve decided that my ‘want’ from Coachella is a perfect moment of the Spalding Grey variety. If it can’t be ‘perfect’ I’ll accept transformative, or at the very least, I’ll settle for a sign. I want to know that everything will be all right in the big sense of the word.
But of course as we all know, that kind of stuff only happens in the movies.
I guess the real me would settle for a little growth. I’d like to stop being so self-aware for a moment and lose myself to something bigger than me. I’d like to have a really fun time, or make a really great memory…
I don’t know if this will happen either, but I’m going, and I think that’s the main thing. I’m not going to be a victim of inertia and habit. I’m stepping outside my comfort zone, and at any age, that has to count for something, right?