The day I gave up being a pop star (or Worst Trip Ever?)

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SirMustapha
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The day I gave up being a pop star (or Worst Trip Ever?)

Postby SirMustapha » Thu Dec 31, 2015 5:17 pm

It was going to be awesome, they said. "That valley will never be the same".

In the last few years, my cousin and his friends have spent the Summer camping on a small beach in the neighbouring state. A paradise, according to him; a fairly isolated place, a valley that ends up on a beach, surrounded by hills, with only a little bar as a reminder of civilisation. They spent last new year's eve playing music in that bar, and this year, they decided to do it again, but with an actual band, amplifiers, drums and wires, the whole deal. And me. I was brought on board to play with them, and since the place was being hyped up as the best place in the world, I decided to go along. It would certainly beat spending the eve in my mother's crowded house watching TV and hearing constant bickering day and night.

I started going to rehearsals, and on the first one, I already saw the signs that things would go wrong. All the guys in the band could already play a whole bunch of songs, and I only had my puny skills at playing the flute and the melodica, and I felt the only thing I was doing was pretend I was contributing something. Also, I learnt that I'd have to actually camp with them. I had never camped before, and didn't even have a tent. That's the first time I tried to give up, but failed. My cousin convinced me that things would work, that I was pretty much necessary to the band, and we'd find a way for me to get a tent and camp. After much effort trying to stifle my identity, I accepted.

On the second rehearsal, things went a little better. I actually felt I was making a difference. Then I started picking up on a few weird details: to bring all the equipment to the bar, they'd have to use a boat. Also, my cousin would camp on the valley, where there was no infrastructure at all, other than the bar and a cold water shower. If I was going to stay with him, I'd have to go really hardcore hippie style, but hey, it was the best place in the world.

On the third rehearsal, my nerves started to crack. We caught a massive storm on the way, and were left stranded under the tiny shelter of a bus stop while the water flooded the street. I realised that kind of scenario would be common this Summer, thanks to El Niño. And then, I lost my cellphone. Not a very big deal as an isolated incident, but as a group of ominous reminders of the terrible mistake I made, it made me crack. I tried to give up again, but was convinced not to. I could stay on a nice camping site outside the valley, where there was electricity, warm showers and everything. I accepted again.

The day of the trip arrived. We got there in the night to help load the car and the tow trailer, where all the equipment would go. We'd be five people squeezed in the car for a five hour trip, which horrified me, but later I learnt we'd join a second car on the way, which would alleviate the load, so I was fine with that. I also learnt that the guy who'd drive had spent the last 36 hours working, with only a few hours of sleep. I immediately offered to drive if it was necessary, as I didn't want him to fall asleep on the road and kill us all. I was still kinda willing to go anyway, though.
So we loaded the car and the trailer, put them both outside and attached the trailer to the car. We then realised the back lights of the trailer weren't working. So the driver had to spend more time soldering the wires to make the lights work, while everybody kept hyped up to get in the car and depart. Already shocked by that, I let them know how absurd it was for someone who worked so much and slept so little to get on the road for 5 hours in the dark of the night. Things were a little mixed, though, as the guy didn't want to take a break and depart next morning. So, I cracked up. My brain seriously went haywire, and I just kept saying I wasn't going anymore, that I would stay behind.

So everyone was finally convinced to sleep on it, take the car next morning to fix the wires, and then leave off. Next morning, my will to live was non-existent. I had barely slept at all on an uncomfortable couch on the living room. I had finally decided to get my things out of the car and go home. My mind was fully set already, and all I had to do was grab my bag, take the train and go home. Yet, that idea made me feel even more like a loser, a huge ass who couldn't take a risk and enjoy something new, a lonely, defeated old fool who can't leave his house. So, I decided to trust them one more time. We got in the car and left. After joining the other car, I started to feel more relaxed and confident. I was going to a new place, where the beaches were actually beautiful (the beach where I usually stay is considered absolutely dull, since the shore is almost perfectly straight for several dozen kilometres). I was going to do something amazing and collective for a bunch of people who, according to my cousin, were extremely nice, open-minded and receptive. I was gonna be a pop star.

We got in the camping site in the early afternoon. It was almost fully crowded, but we managed some space for our stuff. We assembled the tents, and my cousin immediately wanted to go to the valley and see his friends. Not wanting to be left out, I went along. We walked a little trail and reach the beach, which was actually nice. But hey, that's not where we were going. They kept on walking towards the hill where the beach ended. My estimates are terrible, but I think it's fair to say it was about 150 feel tall. To my horror, we'd have to climb it all the way, through a trail in the jungle. But I thought, hey, that's just some exercise! My hands were both occupied carrying stuff, but I could do it.

So, the trail was wet from the rain, and some parts were actually muddy and slippery--as in slip-and-fall-forwards-and-hit-your-head-on-a-rock slippery--and I couldn't use my hands for gripping. The other two guys were used to that and climbed quickly, but I kept struggling, and climbing, and climbing, and climbing, and the fucking hill wouldn't end. I quip that the other beach had to be the best place in the galaxy to compensate for the effort. My cousin, who's not used to my sarcasm, took a while to accept that. They said we were about to reach the top of the hill, but there was still more climbing to do. My lungs were almost melting once I got there, and I thought I was cool now, since going downhill was much easier. Except the downhill part was very steep and rocky. And slippery, of course. At least I could finally catch a glimpse of the best beach in the world, and it was... a tiny asshole of a beach in the middle of nothing. I seriously couldn't believe I had made all that effort for that. But hey, that was the place where I'd finally be a pop star! I'd play my flute, some pretty girl would watch me with a dreamy face, and I'd take her off to a quiet little place later on. It was my chance.

But nothing could cure my exhaustion and my disappointment. My cousin just kept saying how it had been difficult for him the first time too, but he got used to that, and could walk the trail both ways in a snap. I just wanted a beer. My cousin rolled a joint and I foolishly accepted it, while some other guys played music on a guitar. Eventually, I sat on the grass. My mind was spinning, and my spine couldn't sustain the weight of my body anymore. When my cousin came around, I was fallen on my side. He suggested to take me to one of his friends's tent, were I could get some sleep. We walked another distance through a grassy hill to reach their tent, and I promptly lay there. Soon enough they all left, and one of them borrowed my flip-flops to boot. I just wanted to sleep. Quickly I realised I couldn't sleep. The wind got heavy, and it started to rain. The tent was under a plastic sheet, which made an unbearable noise, as if the wind was going to tear it apart at any moment. It was raining, and I was completely alone, only with a flashlight my cousin left me. I was afraid lightning could strike the tent at any moment, or that the rain would get heavy and flood it. I couldn't sleep, and I was getting scared. Finally, after goodness knows how long, I decided I couldn't take it anymore. I took the flashlight, left the tent and closed it, and decided to find the bar. On my own. It was completely dark and I was barefoot, though thankfully the rain was reduced to a mild drizzle. My cousin had said he walked barefoot all the time, and there was no danger of stepping on anything nasty. I hated walking barefoot on the grass, thanks to a kind of herb that sprouts around here, with produces bunches of entirely spiny pods (it looks like this). Quickly I realised the field was full of those things, and I could barely find the proper path to reach the bar. I kept trudging on, scared that the rain would get heavy at any moment, until I could see the lights coming from the bar. And then I stepped squarely on a bunch of those pods.

To my luck, someone spotted me and came running to check. He went back to get a spare pair of flip-flops while I tried to remove the spines from my foot. He came back and took me to the bar. I sat on a table, and my cousin saw me and came around, together with a friend--who coincidently had worked with me before, when I was still an intern--to talk. I was crying my guts out, just wanting to disappear from that place. I left out everything I felt, specifically that I hated that place, that accepting that trip was a mistake, and that the only reason I went was because I was pressured to do it. All the while, they were trying to convince me otherwise, that I was having a wonderful experience, that I'd soon love that place, that I was important and they are delighted that I was there.

I felt invisible. They could see my face and hear my voice, but they couldn't see me. They only saw what they wanted me to be. They couldn't understand when I said I wasn't built for that kind of experience, that I didn't take pleasure from the same things as them, that staying in the safety of my house was good for me. They couldn't accept that I knew myself well enough to know what made me happy. They insisted that the trip would change my life for the better, as it had done to everyone else who'd stayed there. By that point, I had made up my mind: next day, I'd get on a bus and go home. I didn't give a fuck about the band, and the new year's eve. I would be just an accessory, all the girls were way too cool to care about an introverted ass like me, and the guys were certainly all straight anyway (and ugly). They said they respected my decision, but kept trying to convince me to stay. They even got to the point of talking about the magical properties of the place, and asking what I believed in.

"I believe in randomness," I said. "Nature doesn't care about us, it's indifferent. We only believe in such things because it's a built in way we have to make sense of things, and having the illusion of control. But we have no control."

Realising I was a lost cause, my cousin told me he feared they'd find me someday in my apartment with a bullet in my brain. I told him I was too much of a coward to kill myself, and too stubborn to give up living. Things just kept going around in circles, and I couldn't stop crying at how nullified I felt. I couldn't say anything without hearing a "no" in response. No sentiment I expressed evoked empathy. My fear and my disappointment were met with sheer denial. As long as I wasn't in agreement, I was nobody. So I just gave up, the pep talk died down, and my decision remained: I was going home next day.

Eventually the bar closed, turned off the generator and left us in the dark. They still spent a good while just playing music and chatting, and I hoped enough time had passed so that the sun would soon come up, and I could go back to my tent and sleep. I had no idea what time it was, as my phone had lost all its charge. But the sun wasn't going to come up soon anyway. I had to go back to my friend's tent, and couldn't sleep a wink, because of the hellish noise. It was like lying in the middle of a tornado. I think I only managed a few naps, but the feeling was of spending the entire night awake. We got up next morning, and crossed the hill to the other side. My legs and feet hurt like hell, and I was only thankful for not having to do that again. I reached the camping site, took a much needed shower, brushed my teeth, and went off to eat, while the others were busy taking the equipment to the bar in the boat. I didn't even want to see how that worked out: if towing a trailer almost led to disaster, putting heavy amplifiers in a boat was too much for me.

I just spent the rest of the day by myself, doing things my way. I purchased the bus ticket, had ice cream and beer, and then put on my swimming trunks to get at least one dive in the sea. As the evening started to approach, I went to get the bus. I'd have to take two buses, actually, as the second one would depart from the station in the capital city of Florianópolis, a 2 hour trip away. At midnight I was finally in the bus, headed home.

In one thing, my cousin was right: the trip would be reinvigorating. And it was: stepping into my house and lying in my bed had never been so pleasant. I'm just happy to be here, now. My new year's eve will be in my house, nice and quiet, while the world goes crazy outside, and my cousin's friends spend the night playing music for a bunch of stoned guys. I honestly hope they have the time of their life, and I do wish they change the history of that place forever. It's a dull, shabby place accessible only by an inhospitable trail up a hill, but it means the world to them. I wish it makes them happy. Me, I am happy, and I'm confident in the reassuring fact that we're not the same, and one man's paradise is the other man's hell. I only wish they could understand that. But who knows? Maybe that valley will never be the same again, and the oral tales will immortalise the story of the introverted guy who gave that place the finger. Oh, but who am I kidding? People like us are always swept under the rug. That's how paradises are built: the stories of the defeated are written in disappearing ink.
Last edited by SirMustapha on Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles"

-- Bob Dylan, "Visions of Johanna"
c_nordlander
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Re: The day I gave up being a pop star (or Worst Trip Ever?)

Postby c_nordlander » Thu Dec 31, 2015 9:00 pm

Holy...

*Ouch*.

That does sound like an undiluted horrible experience. Glad it's over with, at least.

Now, have some much-needed rest.
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


Elinor Wylie, "Peregrine"
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Re: The day I gave up being a pop star (or Worst Trip Ever?)

Postby Tony_Baritone » Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:00 am

Chris said it well, but please don't call yourself defeated (or lump yourself in that group). You're way too young and too talented.
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Re: The day I gave up being a pop star (or Worst Trip Ever?)

Postby c_nordlander » Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:52 am

Tony_Baritone wrote:but please don't call yourself defeated (or lump yourself in that group). You're way too young and too talented.
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


Elinor Wylie, "Peregrine"
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SirMustapha
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Re: The day I gave up being a pop star (or Worst Trip Ever?)

Postby SirMustapha » Fri Jan 01, 2016 3:20 pm

You're right, folks. I'm far from considering myself a failure for one incident like that. If anything, incidents like that build character, and maybe I needed one strong, lasting lesson about how I must respect my own nature. As much as I wouldn't expect others to be happy living the way I do, I won't let others to do that to me, as good as their intentions may be. And as much as I felt nullified by the lack of empathy, I don't hold any grudges. I know people can be eager to help others, so much so that they forget to step on their shoes for a moment. I had a hard time learning to do that myself, so I don't blame them.

Anyway, thanks for the kindness. As always, I seriously appreciate whatever nice words you have to share, and it makes a real difference. :)
"Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles"

-- Bob Dylan, "Visions of Johanna"
c_nordlander
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Re: The day I gave up being a pop star (or Worst Trip Ever?)

Postby c_nordlander » Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:01 pm

You're more than welcome!

And I think it was very nice of you to offer to come along. Shows that you're not a selfish person at all. Your friends could stand to learn a thing or to from you about treating other people with the respect they deserve...
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


Elinor Wylie, "Peregrine"

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