Getting ready on the morning before a music festival is usually filled with anticipation and the application of sun block, but on June 7 it was filled with dread. Waking up in the morning, you couldn't even tell if your blinds were open or closed because the sky was so dark; the wind made the rain splatter loudly against our windows and all we could think to do is text each other, asking if we were really going to brave the outdoors to see some good music. Music dedication won out, though, so we slicked on our waterproof eyeliner, pulled on our rain boots and entered the torrential downpour.
Living in New York City tends to make us forget about things like nature since we don't deal with it on a daily basis. We live in our manufactured bubble of underground transportation and high-rise buildings, and when nature intrudes, as it did with Hurricane Sandy, we're shocked. So it was that we happily tromped to the ferry that would take us to Randall's Island, never for a moment thinking that we were already in over our heads with this whole being-outdoors-in-a-tropical-storm thing. Randall's Island is technically part of New York City, we thought. They'll take care of it.
Arriving on the island, we started to see previews of what was to come. Concert-goers coated head-to-toe in mud were standing near the entrance, laughing with their friends as they tried to wipe each other clean. The rain had gotten a little lighter, so they were hopeful that they could enjoy the rest of the festival in at least some form of cleanliness, and they made the rest of us arriving at the gates optimistic. We entered the festival smiling, but it wouldn't last for long.
It turns out the mud-people were standing near the entrance because it was the only clean place to stand in the entire festival. What used to be a beautiful field filled with grass and, I'm assuming, Julie Andrews singing to the Swiss Alps, was now a lake of mud. People in ponchos (clear, so you can still see their festival fashion!) were knee-deep in liquid field. Watching people traverse the lake became a game; smaller groups of people tended to make it, but the odds were that someone in a larger group would fall into the mud, never to be seen again. Their friends would shrug and move on, since he was slowing them down anyway. Governors Ball had turned into survival of the fittest, and we intended to survive.
After shuffling through the beer line (which, surprisingly enough, was shorter than usual due to so many people simply giving up on life), we swam to the next concert, which happened to be held at the only stage covered by a massive tent. It soon became clear that there were two types of people at Governors Ball; those who were under the tent, and those who wished they were under the tent. While we stood in the driving rain, the Under Tents danced happily, mud-free and gleeful. We watched them with our hopeless, dead eyes as the rain slowly filled our boots.
Then the sun started to set and the temperature dropped. We trekked to the food vendors, who tried their absolute hardest to hand us hot food covered in tin foil, but the second it came from beneath the booth, our fries turned into waterpotatoes, which we of course ate because we were no longer humans but mud animals. We dusted off our hands, yanked our boots out of the mud like some sort of demented version of ReSync personal training and made our way to the Porta Potties where the mud was so deep that it could easily pass for one of the circles of hell from Dante's Inferno.
We only got a reality check when it was announced that Kings of Leon couldn't play because it was storming too badly. We shook ourselves and looked around -- rain soaked with 30 mph wind threatening to push us face-down in the knee-deep mud -- and realized that we might just have to call this one quits. We reluctantly trudged across the footbridge into Harlem, where people stared at us as we boarded the subway, leaving muddy footprints in our wake.
How silly we were, trying to best a tropical storm just to see some good music. We saw ourselves through the other subway riders' eyes; covered in mud, soaking wet, probably smelling of god knows what, smears of makeup streaking down our faces. We kept our eyes down to avoid their judgment.
But as we struggled home, we'd glimpse another muddy companion across the street, their rain boots leaving trails of water just like ours. We'd exchange a knowing glance; we'd been through hell and lived to tell the tale. No one could ever doubt our dedication to music. And we'd be back the next day, rain or shine, to do it all again.
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