There we all were: The superstars of tomorrow, about 1600 of us, hoping to become even a fraction of the people we were meant to be, building upon the people we were, developing our own personal brands, our repertoires, our symphonies, our opuses, our marks we planned to leave upon the world – the one we knew and lived within, and the one we were yet to face. There were all were, alone for the first time and confined to our limited knowledge and our big, bloated dreams. There we were, unable to know just how much lay before us and how much promise there was, and what kinds of disappointments, victories, tragedies, sorrows, and joys we’d face as we crossed the bridge of our lives from childhood to adulthood, or something resembling adulthood. There we all were: youth. We were the definition, embodiment and sacredness of youth.
Every moment of those days, there was magic in the air that could only come from the energy of 30,000 people with common goals and interests at the right place, at the right time. Bonds were breaking at the same stars were aligning; people were finding love at the same time they were realizing fully what they hated most about the world. People rose above the ashes of the burnt-down buildings left behind by others. It was vibrant, and we stood amongst it all, drowning in the confluence of madness and sorrow. It didn’t matter why we were there or where we would go; what mattered was our arrival.
We watched physical and metaphorical fireworks from rooftops, drank countless cups of coffee, worked and partied long into frostbitten winter nights while snow collected on sidewalks and branches and we waded our way through the cold, bleak darkness. We comforted ourselves with the reminder of collectiveness – that somewhere out there, a stranger was sharing our same experience in the same exact way. We were thinking straight at times, and off-kilter and manic other times. We saw our friends fail and succeed, either championing or dampening our own successes and failures. We did and made terrible things; we did and made wonderful things. We wore crowns made of paper because we couldn’t afford real ones. We sat on trains, our feet against the heater feeling warmth seep gently into our shoes and boots.
We were all there; we were all part of each other’s lives, regardless of whether we knew each other or not. We passed people every day we hadn’t ever spoken to, and we made friends with those who sat beside us in a room of 500 people, and those friends would end up in our wedding parties and were the last to leave our rundown little apartments at the end of a long party, when remaining guests all crouched down on the kitchen floor, that comforting place where everyone ends up after a party. We were constellated stars and we were granules of sand. There we all were.