I went and saw Phish the other night, got back to my hippie roots.
No, wait, I shouldn’t say that. I was never a hippie, and, even though in college I would have professed to live for Phish, going to their shows always gave me mixed feelings. I had special “hippie gear” that I’d bust out for the concerts, so I’d fit in, look appropriate, seem like I ACTUALLY toured with the band and wasn’t just a hanger-on. At the time I spent every waking moment with a group of Phishead dudes, guys who could quote setlists like other people quote Shakespeare, and I loved them more than anything. They were my family from ages 19 to 22, and, as in my biological family, I always felt a little like the black sheep. Try though I might, I had no head for setlists, and I could never call a song before it was played. I didn’t know trivia or stats, and in my heart of hearts I really liked all the songs my dude friends thought were lame. Insecure as an acne-struck teenager, I’d worry that I was dancing too fast or too slow, that I was moving my arms too much or not enough, that my mascara gave me away for the priss that I was, or that my lack of mascara made me look like a corpse. I always felt a bit on the outside of the inner circle, and I’d cling to the group like a life preserver even as my friends all split away to get closer to the stage.
When college ended so did those friendships. Although we stayed close for awhile, eventually there were brunches I wasn’t invited to, weddings I wasn’t part of, and babies I found out about on Facebook. Was it because I never memorized the dates from the 94 summer tour? Of course not. Did it hurt like hell? You bet. It was a boys club all along, I decided, it always had been.
Going to Phish brings back all these feelings, and I was in a terrible mood all day. I woke up in the morning and put on my standard uniform: black tank top, jeans, sandals, not giving a second thought to fitting in at the show. I got annoyed by the slow-moving hippies on the way to the venue, I was bored waiting for the concert to start, and I didn’t get worried about my makeup at all. Once the music started, I danced without a care in the world. Somehow, old wounds aside, hearing Phish felt like coming home, and there, under the lights, everything was right again.