4:40 a.m. The music plays. Misty swipes her phone.
I take off my shirt. I put my bra on. I put my shirt back on. I sling my bag over my shoulder.
It’s go time.
Oh, wait. My pants.
I throw my bag into the back seat. Misty does the same. We buckle up. We head out onto I-15 S. The music is on. It’s pretty loud. I lean over to turn it down, but then I look and see Misty. Her eyes are shut tight behind her glasses. She’s passed out.
The volume is just right.
After three hours, I pull over. I’m not tired, but my back hurts. Misty and I take bathroom breaks, stretch, and then switch places. She still hasn’t even had her license for a year yet. She hasn’t driven outside of Utah yet. This is part of the reason I wanted to take this trip in the first place, I told myself trying to let myself get some shut eye for a few minutes: She needs to drive on highways with more than two lanes.
Thirty minutes later, we’re talking. We’re excited. We’re singing. Misty takes after me with music. Every song we skip is a song we both want to skip. Every song we play is a song we both want to hear. It’s sometimes scary how she knows. Actually lately, we’ve been communicating with looks and small head nods and hand gestures—it’s kind of crazy.
Before we hit Phoenix, we switch it up again.
We get there. We park. Misty puts on mascara. She holds the eyelash curler out to me. I shrug and take it. Sure why not? Maybe Prince Charming will be out there today somewhere. Maybe I’ll need to bat my lashes (Dear God, I hope when I do that it’s sexy and doesn’t just look like I have something in my eye!) Maybe I’ll see a cowboy hat…
The longer I settle into short hair, the better I feel. I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready for a blunt cut. I keep telling myself it’s just a haircut, but then I run my fingers through my hair. I catch glimpses of the gold and bronze in the mirror when I wash my hands. I like what I see. And I feel tough.
Misty’s hair is in a braid. This would become a vital fact later, but I didn’t know that at the time.
We start by watching a chef class while licking strawberry basil popsicles. We look at each other. The seven hour drive is already proving to be worth it and we both know it. We smile.
We walked through different stations all done by Chipotle. We learned about processed foods thanks to amazing visuals. We saw how Chipotle’s heavenly guacamole was made and sampled it fresh. We talked to different vendors about food, drink, and sustainable practices. I actually learned a lot - and more importantly - realized how interested I am in all of this. I think Misty did too. Who knew?
Now when I see processed foods, I think… Gross.
Now when I see Chipotle, I think…Guac.
Chipotle is a winner.
The music started. We were blown away one by one: Jared and the Mill, Magic Man, Ms. Mr., Bleachers…
And Twenty One Pilots.
We stood up for 4 hours before they came on stage. We wanted good spots. And frankly, after an hour, there was no way out. We were pushed up close and center of the stage by other antsy, impatient strangers. As an older sister, I felt quite irresponsible for allowing my baby sister to be squashed into a crowd of sweaty bodies that were ready to mosh - hard core mosh. All I could do was say, “If you lose me, remember, meet me at the information booth. And no matter what, no matter how fast they charge or how hard they push, DO NOT FALL.” As I said this, I had already committed myself to huddling over my little sister’s head should she fall. Her body was like mine, it could take a beating. But her head was too brilliant - and I would protect it with all I had. Just as I had warned her about the crowd, the music started… And our feet were not even touching the ground as the crowd pushed forward into spaces that I didn’t even know existed among the people in front of us.
Concerts like this one are the closest, I think at least, that I ever will get to being religious. At these places, I’m so connected. I’m pressed up against half-naked bodies of strangers. I don’t know them, but we believe in the same words we’re singing. We’re chanting. We’re screaming. Our heads are banging, and our arms fly up and down together. We jump together. We believe.
There was one point when the sun was setting and Misty and I were drenched in sweat when Tyler Joseph told us to put our hands in the air. “Put ‘em up! Put your hands in the air!” he called out. Every single person obeyed. Complete obedience, which to me, is complete trust and respect. It’s kind of like that word I hate that religious people use: faith. But I had as much faith in Mr. Joseph as I did anyone. He’d never lied to me once—as far as I knew ( I’ve learned I’m a horrible lie detector). And then Tyler said something that made me tear up in the midst of chaos: “You’re going to get through it.”
We had just shown faith - and like a perfect religious metaphor, the leader on stage had offered us hope.
Because let’s face it. Every single person in the crowd was going through something. Everyone was going through something. Everyone has something. Everyone.
But we were gonna get through it. Because Tyler Joseph said we were, dammit. And we were together. And our hands were raised up, two feet closer to heaven (if you believe in places like that).
Maybe religion isn’t that terrible. Maybe it’s not as terrible as I think. Maybe I shouldn’t dislike it so much.
But… music is just so much better. Music is faith, hope, connection…Without all of the bullshit.
Why don’t we just let music replace religion?
I wish there were concerts every Sunday. Every genre for everyone to choose from. In love? Here’s an Ed Sheeran concert, have fun. Break up? Taylor Swift or Sam Smith? Just getting through life - happy but still searching? Try visiting Cage the Elephant this weekend. Angry? I dunno, Metallica?
Why don’t we just do that?
Well, I guess I do do that. And I don’t want to tell anyone else to do anything they don’t wanna do. I guess everything is OK. Everything is peachy.
Misty and I made it to our hotel beds. We hit them hard. My legs and feet ached. My neck ached. My head… the music was pounding through my pulse. It wouldn’t stop for another 24 hours.
Misty looked up before she turned off the lamp. “Jade. Thanks for taking me.”
Bliss. Peace of mind. And more Bliss.
“Thanks for coming. Love you.”