Everybody Jump (Part 7)

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Part 1

Part 2 – I Think I Wore This Before

Part 3 – Dance Like No One’s Watching

Part 4 – I Must Be Getting Old, Because I Can Have Fun Sober

Part 5 – Thirty-Something Pockets

Part 6 – Everybody, Scream!

Right… so “I wore this before” and I’ve certainly listened to some of that music before. And the man who’s dancing with me on his shoulders now is none other than my oldest and closest friend, one of those people who have seen me wear this the first time, with whom I’ve listened to this music when it was brand new.

Knowing each other through all the stages of our life means we share a certain kind of complicity and unique connection. It also puts everything in a very special perspective. Sure, we can barely remember a time when we didn’t know each other, once or twice we even counted the years, but that’s the kind of depressing maths that can make a person wonder where the time has gone or perhaps even feel old.

But what strikes me is that none of us would have believed our friendship could survive and even grow for all these years. We used to share our dreams for the future, but they were just as different as we were. And when someone in our little group would joke about the two of us being inseparable and staying friends forever, he smiled his “Yeah right” smile and said nothing so as not to hurt my feelings; I, on the other hand, did not possess that sort of grace, and made it quite clear I didn’t believe in such a possibility.

We were making our plans for the festival over the phone (yes, we’re old-fashioned like that) wondering which one of our acquaintances might go, and I was looking up all the artists that were going to be part of the show, deciding which were worth seeing, so I could schedule everything accordingly. My eyes stopped on one of the names on the screen for several seconds. We’ll definitely have to see them…

In a way, we’ve come full circle, I think to myself while we sing the lyrics of a local band’s old songs. I remember how all the girls were crazy about the lead singer back then; sporting a different look and a somewhat different musical style these days, he seems to have the same effect on the ladies. He was good back in the day and he’s managed to thrive over the years, even if I personally prefer some of his earlier songs. But the truth is, it’s really not about him or his band. He may be performing on the main stage the final evening of a certain festival, alongside some internationally famous artists, but I can still see him on a stage in a square in our home town. I can still see us use the concert as an escape from home and our lives, a time to be “normal”, like everyone else our age. We could sing, dance and forget, and after a couple of beers my best friend would dance with me on his shoulders, much to our dates’ annoyance.

Then there’s another name, one whose videos we used to watch, never crossing our minds that some twenty years later we’d see him live, together, and it would feel like the most natural and normal thing in the world. Knowing someone so well, for so long, means that in some cases there’s no need for words. A look is all it takes to convey a wide array of feelings; and that’s a good thing, because I’m feeling really emotional. I put my sun glasses back on and I keep dancing. I don’t want to miss a moment of it, I want to take in as much of this “then and now” as I possibly can. These are moments to become sweet adored memories someday.

After desperately struggling to find a parking space, we make it in time for one of the bands performing on a smaller stage that evening. I timed it right after all, and I’m glad, even if I think they’re absolutely terrible. Let’s put it this way, if I’m listening to the radio in my car and one of their songs comes on, I’ll instantly change the station. But it’s not all about me, and no kind of relationship can survive this long without mutually accepting the other person’s little foibles or without the occasional compromise and concession.

It’s not all about drugs, sex and oblivion, regardless what the popular belief about a festival of the sort might be. We catch our breath in one of the relaxation areas as we share burgers and French fries we got from one of the many food trucks. I’m not partial to street food, but there’s a time and a place. We laugh, we talk and we enjoy the moment together, like so many others. An ice-cream would be nice too, if only I didn’t have to get up to get it… let’s see if I can count on an old friend for a favour.

It doesn’t matter “where you’re from, how much money you have in your pockets, the colour of your skin, the sex of the person who you love, music is there for everybody, always has been, always will be, and that’s what these festivals are about,” the boys remind the crowd as their performance is coming to an end.

It’s not all about age either, although time does have a powerful word to say in this story. It’s the final evening and even if I can still handle a few sleepless nights, I’m feeling tired. But then again, it seems to be the general trend, people – regardless of their age – are not as energetic as they’d been on previous nights, even if the show is just as good. It’s hilarious to notice once more how some of them have fallen asleep in the oddest of places. Well, I may be tired, but that won’t get in the way of dancing some more and enjoying the final hours of the festival. After that, we can just lean on each other while wobbling back to the car.

It’s not about debauchery. It’s about living and feeling alive. It’s about friendship and human interaction. It’s about being yourself and feeling good in your skin, no matter what that entails, no matter what age you are, what outfit you wear, what music you listen to or what language you speak.

“Good night and god bless you,” they scream and then leave the stage.

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