Sappy Reflections: Prologue and Friday
This is based in truth, but names have been changed and minor details have been altered. I won’t tell you which. I had originally decided to post all three segments as a single entry but thought it would work better spaced over multiple days
I was in such a rush to get out of Riverview.
There was only a 20 minute window of time between the end of my shift at the call centre and the time the bus I needed to take left, and I needed to rush across the street to change out of my polo shirt and khakis. Too stuffy. Too much of a disguise. I needed to wear something a little suited to a weekend music festival, and I needed to grab my ticket, notebooks, camera, tripod, and a few other things to wear. If for any reason I was detained by a long call or anything else that would make me miss the bus, I would have to pay $12-15 for a cab downtown.
I did make it, and had a little time between when the Codiac Transit #14 stopped downtown and when the Acadian Lines coach left. I dropped off a trio of overdue and barely read library books about writing and drifted around the area with my camera out and iPod on. The terminal had moved since I had last left town by bus: it used to be not too far from where the city bus dropped me off but now was in the back of a run-down looking neighborhood at the edge of downtown; I took a handful of pictures but it wasn’t really a place I felt comfortable taking out a big DSLR camera. The new terminal building was a lot nicer than the old one was, though, and had much-needed air conditioning inside, a noticeable improvement over the other building, which depended on a giant fan to make things slightly less comfortable.
I didn’t have time to get something to eat beforehand; I did try to get something out of a vending machine but I didn’t have the right change and the bill slot rejected the ten spot I had in my wallet. Oh well, too bad. I had to figure out which bus was the one that was going to get me where I wanted to. Once I climbed aboard, I took a window seat and just did my usual routine as a passenger, and let my iPod select a hodgepodge of music like The Roots, Weather Report, Serge Gainsbourg and Yo La Tengo to accompany the visuals of the ride from Moncton to Sackville: drum machines and electronic drones as I passed the airport and was reminded of my urge to take another flight out of province; porno guitar, funky bass and Jane Birkin’s orgasmic laughter as the bus sped along the Trans-Canada Highway that snaked along over hills.
Once I made it into Sackville, I lugged my belongings into Campbell Hall, this big, sterile dorm building that was only erected late in my time at Mount Allison. The halls were disconcertingly quiet, which was made worse by their spaciousness and their sensor-detected lights. I still hadn’t eaten and was rushing to make sure I got to McDonald’s before it closed. I don’t know why, but I was craving a quarter pounder that night…I couldn’t help but feel that this was something I didn’t need to publicize in a festival where there would be so many people who were disposed towards healthier and more ethical fare; people I admired somewhat for their convictions but could not make the leap personally to commit to their lifestyle.
I suffered two early indignities: I dropped my return ticket on the way out of the bus but didn’t realize it until I noticed the “pocket” in my camera case didn’t have a bottom. Not the end of the word since I could easily buy another ticket, but it would be another $16 wasted. I also noticed in my rush to get out of my muted, not particularly favored work outfit, I had buttoned up my shirt crookedly. I realized my mistake before I went downtown where I would be more likely to run into familiar faces but I did have a flash as to how dumb I must have looked in the streets of Moncton.
Oh well. Off I went.
The central hub of activity for Sappyfest is a barricaded-off portion of Bridge Street between Main and Lorne: street vendors and artists assemble on the pavement before you get to the mainstage tent where they sell beer, merchandise and the musicians take to the stage. There was already a crowd assembled and I eventually was able to exchange a ticket I purchased for a wristband that granted me entry to the tent.
To be honest, Friday night was always going to be a bit of a write-off for me. As a latecomer to the day’s proceedings everything that night was going to feel rushed. I didn’t feel like I was fully into the festival as of yet. As much as I remembered liking being around people that had some interests and inclinations closer to mine than what I usually encounter, too much time alone and too little energy meant that I was not in a mindset to mingle with ease, not that it really ever came easy for me either. While I enjoyed running into people I hadn’t interacted with in years aside from keyboard strokes, part of me wanted to put that part off until I was in my element. Whenever that was. Whatever that was.
As everyone dispersed from the mainstage, I was walking along Main Street when I ran into Keith, a musician I mainly knew through a mutual friend. It turned out we were both headed to the post-midnight event, a combination rock show, roller derby outing and wrestling match. He also knew the members of the headlining band, and we watched the roller derby event from the arena floor with them. I didn’t really have much to contribute to the conversation but as I sat, watched, and tried to manipulate my camera into taking legible pictures of the event, I flashed back to an inter-residence hockey game from five years ago where a friend who was not particularly graceful on ice was playing, at once seriously and in jest. It was in this same arena and I barely remembered the other details, not even remembering who won. I chalked my time travel to the joint I shared with Keith but I really knew it was something else.
I ran into a few more people I knew while watching a theatrical wrestling match, and stuck around for the set by Holy Fuck, but I was so exhausted from everything I just wanted to slowly trudge my way back to the residence hall. Once there I flipped on the TV, watched an old Futurama rerun and passed out, ignoring the notebook and paper I had set up to log that day. Whatever it was I was feeling, I really had been doing too much that day to fully process it.