As a teenager, I kept a daily journal which chronicled what I felt was an awful excuse for a life. High school and early college were difficult times for me – plagued by all the symptoms of living with an abusive parent who squandered our money on women, and neglected to pay the bills or buy groceries.
Without rock music, I’m not sure I could have ever made it out alive. Rock musicians assured me that not only had they been there, but they had also triumphed over their circumstances.
This encouraged me to do the same.
Teenage Bucket List
Thus, somewhere amidst all my complaints and lamentations, I’m almost certain I had a list of all the things that would make me happy. It might have read something like this:
- Move out
- Go to college
- Get Dreadlocks
- Dye hair
- Become a writer
- Go to Vans Warped Tour
Ticking Items Off the List
At the time, simple as many of those things were, they seemed like little more than a dream. But as years went by I started to tick things off that list.
By sixteen, I moved out for the first time, started my associate’s degree, started my dreadlocks journey, dyed my hair black and red, and got my first paid writing assignment.
Compared to the dark depths I had climbed out of, it was all up hill from there. At seventeen, I moved out for the second and final time and started to travel more – not just to the United States, but around my tropical island.
Before long, there was only one thing left on that list. But concerned about all the accidents and violent altercations that took place at rock shows in Atlanta, my mother refused to let me go when I visited her for the summer months.
So after a while, I let that dream go too. I had school to focus on, my writing to keep me busy, and had developed other passions to fill the void. Besides, having fulfilled six of the seven items on the list, I felt I had already made good progress.
Plans for Vans Warped Tour
Then, a whole ten years later, Michael suggested we attend the Atlanta leg of Vans Warped Tour 2016. I was all for it, but nowhere near as excited as I should have been. In fact, it wasn’t until I had actually arrived at the Lakewood Amphitheater that I realised the treat I was really up for.
I had never found myself in the company of so many other rockers in all my life.
Stocking up on Alcohol
We started our trip with whiskey before heading into the venue. Having been to his own fair share of music festivals before, Michael knew we could expect prices like $12 for a bottle of beer.
When we got inside the venue, beer was actually as much as $14, and wine was $10 for one small glass. But I wasn’t there for the liquor. I was there for the shows.
They were already rolling full-swing with bands from all over the world. There was Sum 41 from Canada, Tonight Alive from Australia, Sykes from Britain, and countless others from around the U.S.
It took us about half an hour before we could find all the stages and map out what bands we wanted to see.
Once we had that all figured out and weren’t just wandering around aimlessly, everything else seemed to fall right into place.
“My teenage self would be so proud of me right now,” I told Michael, while we jumped around in the crowd of Yellowcard’s performance.
All around us, other rockers were shouting ecstatically, and forming a mosh-pit that was a force to be reckoned with. I was exactly where I had wanted to be – ten years ago – and it was still a pleasure to be there at the ripe old age of 26.
Even though it meant suffering in almost unbearable heat, and ruining my shoes.
And then going home sunburned, after fleeing the Sleeping with Sirens performance, in the pouring rain. We’re still peeling and nursing our wounds, but we enjoyed earning every last one.
Chasing Childhood Dreams
There are many dreams and wishes from our youth that we now think of as frivolous, impractical, and unwise. Maybe we wanted to travel the world as a sailor, or pursue artistic passions. But are they really all as impractical as we think they are?
I once advised readers to Do Something your Future Self will Thank you For, but there is often equal satisfaction in doing things that would make our younger selves proud. It’s never too late to do the things you want to do in your life – even if it means moshing with teenagers at 26.
Check out some of the bands we saw live in the pictures below.