I’m glad to be 30 and not 21.

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.

3 responses to “I’m glad to be 30 and not 21.”

  1. E-$,
    A a member of your 18-22 dude family I feel compelled to comment on your experiences.

    Truth is, there is no boy’s club and you didn’t get left behind. We all went our own ways. I know that all of us look back and are thankful at what we had and who we shared it with.

    I saw Phish in December for the fist time since Coventry, 2004. I felt many of the same feelings you described. I wondered why the sweaty mob of mostly dudes was so taken by 4 middle aged men who have been playing the same songs for decades. Seeing Stash, Mike’s Song -> Weekapaug, Hood, etc (while i named the songs at first note) didn’t excite me. In fact, towards the end of the show was ready to leave before the encore! The next day I was unsure if I even wanted to go to a 2nd show. Hard to believe, I know! (I went and had fun)

    What I’ve rationalized is that as time progress people change. Some people move on and recreate themselves . Others dig deeper and deeper into what they so passionately obsessed over decades earlier. There is no right or wrong.

    All the best,


  2. About 6 or 7 years ago I was on vacation and watched a local artist painting nearly every day on the beach. Toward the end of the week, I went over to his cabana and chose to purchase a piece that I had been staring at for 7 days. I loved the painting – everything about it – the colors, the subject matter, the size and shape…

    About a year ago, I took that painting off the wall and put it in storage. I no longer enjoyed looking at it – I respected what it meant to me, the quality of the artistry, the memories associated with that trip, and the time in my life which it was purchased. These things will never change, but my taste for the piece had.

    The message here is that art is subjective – what suits our taste at one time may be completely different at another. Music is art. Phish, and the “four middle aged men” who make up the band are artists. Some get more passionate about their favorite artists, some don’t – others don’t even see the reason – and that is all ok.

    Thusly, I couldn’t agree more with Dave – “as time progresses people change” and I too felt compelled to speak out on your post for this very reason. As people change over time, the subjectivity of life’s content and context changes as well. But the respect for all the things that came before; the people, the places, the times – should never die. For that reason alone, I consider all the “dudes” (male and female of course) that made up our 18-22 “family”, friends to this day. They will always be my friends.

    I may not get invited to every party or get a personal call about a life achievement. People often have reasons for such situations, but to have the ideology that I was not included because I was not part of a “club” is a reach. As Dave says, “there is no tight or wrong” – so is true for old friendships, love of art, or moments past. It’s all subjective. And it’s all ok.

    Always your friend,



  3. Ween was my Phish, and I’m hoping their set at Bisco doesn’t disappoint me. But then again, if so? It means I’ve evolved since those days, and man, what a relief. And if not? I’ll be glad to share it with the people in my life now, because the people from back then are gone, for better or worse.

    I have a hard time holding onto the positive aspects of that time for me because I was so miserable and immature, and was out of touch with how my attitude and words affected the people I was close to. But things are different in my “real” adulthood–I know I won’t always be in touch with everyone I love at this moment, but my perspective is maturing in a way where I’ll miss people, sure, but am far less likely to take it personally, especially because I can diffrentiate between “stuff that people have a right to hate me for” and “stuff that is just a difference in personality.”

    Here’s hoping I didn’t miss your point… 😉


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