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April 26, 2013

How 20Somethings Do Spring Break: Coachella

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Every once in a while, we 20Somethings are able to find a few days and with the spare change deep in our jean pockets (and coat pockets, and purses, and the bottom of our laundry bags) take a little, very much-needed vacation --- a post-grad “Spring Break,” if you will. My “Spring Break” was planned almost a full year ago when I continually clicked the refresh button on Google Chrome, waiting to be next in line for Coachella 2013 tickets. With about two hours of waiting under my belt, good karma finally came my way, and I scored two tickets to the festival. Next came the longer period of waiting --- about 8 months of waiting --- for the outdoor music festival to arrive. What seemed like years upon years, turned into hours as I waited for my flight to CA to depart from JFK on a Thursday morning at 6am. Let me just tell you, the TSA is the last thing you want to be dealing with when you’ve been awake for almost 24 hours…making sure all your work emails are sent, your bathing suit made it in your carry-on and you haven’t forgotten your wallet…or sunglasses.

This year’s Coachella was my third year in a row. I had always heard about the festival, but growing up in the Northeast and attending college in upstate NY, there was never the time to get myself out there. That completely changed when my parents moved to Palm Springs, a mere few miles from the Empire Polo Fields, where the festival is held over the course of two consecutive weekends in mid-April. Any trip to Coachella also becomes a visit to see my parents, who I only get to spend time with a few times a year. (Long distance relationships are hard!)  As a frequent outdoor concert/music festival go-er (I’m sure this is some sort of genetic/hereditary hobby passed down from my father who walked to Woodstock in ’69,) I have been to Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza in the past, but Coachella is a whole different adult playground.

Firstly and maybe most importantly, the weather is PERFECT. As I often dream of living on the West Coast where my LA friends see sunshine and 75 degrees 360 days of the year, talking about California weather will never be boring or overstated… thinking about it especially plagues me on the days in NYC when the ocean is literally dumping on us (Hurricane Sandy) and you lose electricity for 5 days, living alone. Or when Snowmageddon of Winter ’10 stalls an MTA bus in the middle of one of the busiest streets in Manhattan --- the Bowery --- and you’ve got to pull out your winter boots from five years ago to trek to the Soho bookshop you work at for opening hours. (Note: no one will buy coffee table books during a blizzard --- for fear of getting them ruined and sheer laziness and avoidance of the outside world --- I cannot blame them.)

Aside from the weather, the performers at Coachella vary. It blesses you with an ideal setting in which you can see an up-and-coming hip-hop artist/soon-to-be legend, 2 Chainz, woo a crowd of young adults (rap is poetry), directly after checking out your favorite alternative rock/electronic/emo band from high school for which you know all the lyrics to the sole album they released --- The Postal Service --- and end the night with an epic performance from classic rock mainstays --- The Red Hot Chili Peppers. It wasn’t even till I saw The Red Hot Chili Peppers that I realized I knew almost all of their songs (except for 2!) and was more intrigued than ever to pick up Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography SCAR TISSUE, which came out eight years ago. Seeing old bands perform for the first time can be like falling in love with a new band you just discovered --- the excitement and rush are the same.

Tack weather and awesome music onto LA food trucks, offering Artisan ice cream sandwiches, authentic tacos from across the border, along with good company (including plenty of strangers to meet who clearly share the same interests as you) and what seems like an endless supply of cold beers…and you think you’ve found God or the perfect vacation…or something that comes as close to both as possible.

I must confess that, despite all the wonderful things about my five day vacation, I came back physically destroyed with fatigue. It took me almost a full week to readjust my sleeping schedule and slowly phase out of the California bliss that took over me.  And I barely had any time to sit back, relax and read --- something that is so nice to do in the sun, in the rain…on the train…BUT I am a firm believer that with any vacation, leaving can be just as great as returning.