What A Self-Professed Hip-Hop Head Learned at Country Fest

“…Get weird with it. Try not saying no all the time. You’ll be glad you didn’t…” by Micah Peters

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My life has been a series of things that I’ve essentially stumbled into by chance. I’m not sure if I ever loved soccer— my brother was good at it, and I looked up to him, so I picked it up and got good at it. I didn’t want to go to an Ivy League school, really. My mom just wanted a child that did and I happened to be the last one in the house. So when I graduated, I had an expensive education under my belt without any really clear passions to pursue. Other than music and writing, that is. And I have no idea how to make a living off of either. I’m thankful for what I’ve been given, but I don’t really know what to do with any of it.

For as long as I can remember, whenever I’ve been met with the question “what do you like?” I immediately jumped to things that I didn’t. If someone asked me where I wanted to eat dinner, I’d always answer with all of the places I didn’t want to go. What an ass-backwards way of doing things. It’s a problem.

So after about three months of not finding the answer during particularly long weeks at home watching my nephews and doing housework, and short weekends in New Orleans playing Men’s league soccer games and drinking to forget the question altogether, I decided I needed a change. Of course, I started searching for reasons not to move, but obviously couldn’t find any:

1. I have no financial obligations other than my student loans.
2. I have no steady girlfriend tying me to any one place.
3. I’m only 22 freaking years old.

I turned to a friend of mine, Nate, with whom I’d been working on a copywriting project, and told him I was thinking about moving. He told me that he once packed up his car and drove to San Francisco with borderline no money, no plan, and ended up writing for a local publication and living in a town house with 4 complete strangers. He now writes for USA Today. His advice? “Do it. Just fucking do it. And get weird with it. Try not saying no all the time. You’ll be glad you didn’t.”

So I did it. I packed up the car and said I was going out for milk. And ended up in Boston.

The first opportunity to put this advice into practice came the very next day after arriving in town. I was crashing with a college buddy who kindly woke me up with a glass of water to the face, and told me that, as penance for staying on his couch, I would need to drive him and a couple of Harvard football players to Country Fest at Gillette Stadium. And stay for the entire tailgate.

Let’s be clear. I hate pop country music. More than most things. More than Crocs. More than people who wait in line at the cafe, get to the front, and then decide what to order. More than people who wear boat shoes at the gym. More than servers at Chipotle who ask me if I know that guacamole costs extra. It has a draining effect. It takes all of my powers away. Powers that only return after I’ve had a once through of Wu-Tang’s 36 Chambers (which turned 20 this past week, for those who didn’t know). On top of all of this, I would be at Gillette Stadium with Patriots fans. And being a Saints fan, we hate pretty much everybody else in the NFC with the intensity of a thousand white hot suns. But you know, try new things.

I was there for four hours, and saw a grand total of 18 black people. Frankly, I was surprised there were that many. But, to my surprise, I didn’t collapse or die from being battered relentlessly with what I have, up until now, called “a talentless genre of music” to all of my friends. I’m not saying I’ve had a change of heart, because I haven’t. Even with all the people with cowboy hats, cut-off western shirts, and rainbow flip-flops drunkenly belting lyrics extolling bare feet, blue jeans, bald eagles, and Budweiser, the unthinkable happened. I had a good time. People were genuinely happy, and kind, offering me burgers and hot dogs, free beer, and turns at playing corn hole and beer pong. One of the people DJing (if that’s what you can call it) at an RV played this Florida-Georgia Line song that featured Nelly, which then transitioned smoothly into “Ride With Me”, which then turned into the entire Nellyville album, which I was super okay with. No one even chirped me about the Saints-Pats match up that we ended losing weeks later.

Moral of the story? Like most things in my life at this point it’s fairly unclear— but a worthwhile takeaway is that guarding yourself from potentially, totally enjoyable experiences by being stuck in your ways and your pretensions will get you absolutely nowhere. It’s time to grow up. You have to talk to strangers and do strange things if you’re going to make it anywhere in this life. You know, so long as it’s not life-threatening or immoral.

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