There are so many different places that you’ll go in this world and so very few of them where you would like to stay. There are terrible places that you can’t wait to get out of. There’s principles offices, the hospital, public restrooms, the back of cop cars, dirty frat basements with leaking ceilings. There are also amazing places you can’t wait to get to and never want to leave. There’s your bed in the morning, your favorite coffee shop, tropical vacations, your best friends kitchen. Then there’s this third set of places that are just the best, the type you forget to appreciate while you are there because you are too busy just being there in that moment. These ones are less predictable, less universal, and less inherently special. They aren’t your favorite places or places you go often, they are sometimes places you will only go once, but while you were there, you made a conscious decision that “this place is good, this is one of the good ones”. They are just places where life happened a little bit extra.
My places are silly. I’ve only been to each of the once in my life and they were sort of dirty and uncomfortable but they were so full of life and they were important enough to make me feel extra alive myself. The first one has the funniest name and I almost lied about it but it wouldn’t be the same. Fart City. It looked like a garage (it was a garage) and there was a make shift bar and in a back room lit by Christmas lights, mattresses were bungee-corded to the walls. Some hardcore amateur punk bands were playing and it didn’t matter how good or bad they were. People were feeling it, physically soaking in and living off of this pure energy and a couple were jumping around and it gave me chills. I remember what I wore and what I drank and even a couple conversations I had there. It was two hours, if that, and it felt like 10. I wore this maroon and flowery crop top and I was all flustered from someone asking if I was this guys girlfriend (I would have been if he let me, but I’m sort of glad that I wasn’t). I felt young, but to be honest, I have no idea what the age range of people there was, it was quite a crew. I remember observing everything and rambling to a couple and when I left I decided I had to find more places like that one, where life sounded so good and everyone agreed and there began my initial search for “pop-punk-spring-time”.
The next time I found that was one of my favorite nights of my college career (so far) and exactly a year later. Space Afrika, was apparently, the coolest but I had never been. We finally had a DD and it was the last hoorah of the year before everyone moved out of that legendary house. I remember my hair was red and I drank something mango flavored and I had my hand halfway out the window the entire buzzed ride to bonnet, already feeling something good about to happen. A girl I used to run track with offered me a blunt and Rachel told us all her favorite thing to drink is red wine mixed with vodka. The walls were creatively graffited and we all congregated around the wall the read: “NEVER GROW UP (or do I don’t fuckin care)” and it made so much sense in this house full of half grown up and half Peter Pan and the lost boys dressed as college students. The cops came naturally but we hid about 75 people in this basement. To this day I have never seen 75 humans this quiet at once, without command from an authority figure of some sort at least. We were just all in agreement that it wasn’t going to be over and we weren’t going to go. I sat by this guy picking his guitar like a lullaby and a girl singing so softly, it might have just been a hum and there was a gallon jug of pure water just being passed around like it was a normal thing to do at a party. We were all sitting criss cross or half tangled to each other and despite the circumstances and the basement not it’s usually lively local band venue, we were all so happy, and it felt like the opposite of real life, but was the most life I have felt in a basement at once. I don’t know. It was just the sort of place that makes you want to hug all of your friends and then hug a stranger and for it to feel almost the same. When we woke up to leave Rhode Island I remember not wanting to wash the X off of my hand even if my mom thought it was sketchy because it was proof that I bonded with 75 beautiful people at once, and that we all got to be alive at the same time.
This spring, actually, last night, I went to a place called Fish Camp. It’s a total “bro” spot and you can’t even drive most cars to it safely. We parked in the middle of the woods, unloaded a copious amount of beer, and hopped in the back of a pick up truck. Classy, I know. I was the only girl there and they were all making steaks and hot dogs and questionable jokes but I didn’t really mind any of it. I remember just sitting there quiet but content and soaking it all in and observing these 10 dudes and trying to figure out each of their zodiac signs in my head and wondering how they all fit together. One of them talked like a punk band, like the way Blink-182 sounds and one brought his dog and apparently is a lot better at playing drums than he lets on. One climbed a tree all the way to the top and planned to sleep in his hammock so we could borrow his tent if we needed and one cooked me veggie kabobs and let me borrow his long sleeve shirt when I got out of the lake and let me play my favorite song two times in a row. One of them is half paralyzed and another one’s grandfather owns this property and has a brother who looks the exactly the same, but with a beard. One was the beer enthusiast who’s not my boyfriend, and then there was me: the girl eating an entire watermelon, who has a firm handshake (apparently). So we had this lake and a bon fire and endless things to smoke and drink if we wanted. Everyone had big opinions on music and they didn’t hate mine and everyone just relaxed and talked and fought about the unsustainable food system until more than one of us started to fall asleep sitting up. It wasn’t too hot and there weren’t too many bugs and I’ve never been so willing to pee behind a tree or to sleep on the floor. I woke up to a sweet confusion of green leaves and sunshine and birds chirping and the pile of damp lake clothes beside us and diverse array of beer bottles and cans circling the fire pit just outside didn’t make it any less beautiful and made it even more real. I tried to tell my mom about this one and it only sounded disgusting and sketchy and the opposite way it felt and reminded me of why I never tried to explain the other good places. This one was good too.
They all had so much good in them that I won’t mind if I never see them again, as if that would almost spoil the fleeting serendipity sweetness of them altogether. These places were so sweet I almost never wrote about them because I didn’t want to share it. Some places you want to drag everyone you know to make sure nobody misses that certain view or whatever, but places like this are sacred in a way and meant to be kept secrete unless you are lucky enough to stumble upon them or hear about them by accident. I have more of these places hidden places and I hope there are more I won’t find for months, maybe until next parking-lot-nip and pop-punk-spring, but whatever sort of places I go and get to, these one’s will always be the good kind.