I’m in a daze. I’m exhausted and still super dehydrated. My feet have blisters all over them and my legs have decided they no longer want to do anything. I have no money left in my bank account but I have a huge smile on my face and a weekend I will never, ever forget.

I’ve never done the multiple day festival thing due to the fear of multiple bands I want to see being slated to play at the same time. I also know myself and, being a ginger, the outdoors is not my best friend and within just a few hours of being out in the open, I typically resemble a lobster.

I knew all of this going into the weekend but it was time to face my fear I did the only thing I seem to know how to do. I got in the car before the sun even came up on Friday, picked up my friend Ali on the way, and made the drive to Chicago. We arrived just in time to drop off our stuff where we were staying (huge shout out and thank you to my friend Mary for letting us crash!), get in an Uber, and make our way downtown for Riot Fest.

Within the first second of stepping into Douglas Park I knew this was going to start a new obsession. The sounds, the smells, the sights… everything just screamed home to me. Even though I was in a strange city in a park that wasn’t in the best of neighborhoods, I felt more than at home and comfortable. I was surrounded by people that, just like me, live in a world of music. Without music, we are nothing but outcasts, but with the music, we are a family… an odd looking family… but a family nonetheless.

Within the first day I saw multiple bands that I had only dreamt of seeing live and bands that I had seem multiple times. The stress of having to pick what bands to see at what time quickly went away with a couple drinks and a couple of deep breaths. I quickly didn’t care who I saw on stage, I was just enjoying where I was with who I was with. The music really seemed to be just an added bonus.

I could tell you about all of the bands that I saw over the three day weekend. I could write about how impressed I was with The Flaming Lips’ live show even though I really don’t like their music. I could talk about how much I cried during Brand New’s set. I got to see Rob Zombie play and I never thought I’d be able to say that I saw Morrissey or the original line-up of The Misfits but that’s not what I took away from this weekend. It was more than just a list of bands, it was a truly life changing experience.

Last night, we rode on the Ferris wheel that allows you to see all of the stages and all of the people. The sun was setting behind us and, although I am scared to death of heights, I inched closer to the side so I could get a picture of me with the crowd and stages in the background. Once we finally landed, I took a look at the picture that I took. I don’t know if I’ve ever looked that happy in my whole life.

I’ve said this before and I mean it now more than ever… there are no words to describe this past weekend.

I’m exhausted to say the least. I came home today with a massive hangover, sunburn, and empty bank account.

I don’t regret a thing.

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