In your life, you might hear a song, or an album, that’s capable of immersing you in a whole world of comfort, sadness or nostalgia.
Lyrics like gospel, you try to commemorate the artists through posters on your bedroom wall, an iPhone wallpaper, or tattoos on your arm. Since 2007, Paramore have not just been my favourite band, but also my escape from reality.
Last year was the worst of my life. Between full-time study, four jobs, and a marriage equality plebiscite, reality became a little too much to bare.
There are moments when you just snap. For me, that was booking a cruise from Miami to the Bahamas, all on my own. I know what you’re thinking—who goes on a cruise by themselves?
But this wasn’t any regular cruise, it was a four-day festival hosted by the one and only Paramore.
Alone and confused, I bid farewell to my parents, boarding a sixteen hour flight to Miami. The decision to travel solo seemed ludicrous to those around me. “Why would you do that?” “Aren’t you scared?” Yes, in fact, I was terrified, but something inside of me called for something this drastic, a change from the monotony. Alone in a continent I’d never laid feet on, I found my way onto the ‘Parahoy!’ cruise ship, that would take me to tropical paradise.
As the orange sunset sunk behind the Atlantic Ocean, I stood amongst thousands of people on the crowded pool deck, as Hayley Williams belted the lyrics to Rose Colored Boy; “Cause I’ve been through a lot, really all I’ve got is just to stay pissed off, if it’s all right by you.” This moment, I can’t forget.
There’s an inarticulable comfort in meeting people who share your obsession—who come from worlds vastly different from your own. There was my cabin mate who’d only just escaped a Jehovah Witness cult two years previous.
We spent the long music-less nights regaling each other with stories of our pasts.
A mother of two who’d left her kids at home to join the fun found me drinking coffee in the afternoon sunlight, glitter covering my face as I waited for the next gig. “You look beautiful, can I take a photo?” she asked. There was a guy who’d managed to smuggle five ounces of weed in his prosthetic penis, and we bonded over our love of illicit substances and the queer community.
I learnt many things on board Parahoy, Firstly, the taste of regret after spending $400 on alcohol. More importantly, I became more comfortable with myself, embracing all the clichés of living in the moment, dancing like no one’s watching, and savouring these precious memories.
No longer am I afraid to strike up conversation with a stranger or find shame in going to a café alone. I thought to myself, I should not be ashamed to enjoy the things I like, to colour my hair the way I choose, to dress the way I like, to travel halfway across the world to see my favourite band on a cruise ship…
There’s no point in waiting for somebody else to accompany you. Book that flight, take that drive, follow your most obscure dreams. These are the stories we will tell.