We arrived early in the morning. The desert air colder than what I thought it would be and the fatigue was hanging over me like an anchor searching for the bottom of the ocean. For almost two years I had wanted to come to Phoenix and I was finally there. I was feeling some kind of hope in the back of my mind. Maybe this was going to change something within me? Maybe I could smile and have a feeling attached to it? I tried to stay optimistic the moment we landed in LA and ended up in Phoenix. I was surrounded by a lovely group of lovely people and I felt ok for the first time in a long time.
The first day began with us waking up, getting ready for whatever was out there and it was surprisingly easy finding out where to go. The LTRL was easy to find and to get on. I read the signs saying ‘Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa’ and I thought to myself, as we passed some old abandoned buildings, that this is so surreal and that this is actually happening. The people on the LTRL all looked tired, almost as if the rain currently washing down over Phoenix changed the entire atmosphere. How appropriate as it was the inauguration day of the monster that now runs America. I was feeling nervous for America, but at the same time I felt content for once and smiled at the old lady sitting across from me who smiled back at me but then looking out of her window.
Downtown Phoenix was quiet. The rain had stopped as we got to Washington / Central Ave. We looked around to see if there was anywhere we could eat and ended up going to the first place we saw; a vegan place just around the corner with the most amazing spring rolls. Later on we found our way to the 8123 popup store where we queued up with other people. At this point my anxiety had caught up with me and if it wasn’t for my friend I would probably have turned around and told myself that I would save money and be better off not going. For some reason my brain just thought that this was too much. I felt so small. Holy shit I was in America. I was so far away from home and I told myself that it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was. It was like this tiny feeling just suddenly decided to take over and overwhelm me. I tried to focus on taking photos and talk, but it didn’t go over until we got inside. I ended up buying a lot of merch and being very happy as I saw the artworks of Nicky Barkla. I love her work, the details she puts into her paintings and the frames. She is just so incredible and I admire her paintings so much. It was again a moment where I just had to take a deep breath and wonder if this was actually happening.
Since moving to England I have been travelling a bit here and there. A year ago I had no idea my adventure to America would come so soon. And I kept asking myself as I looked up at the huge buildings and wide streets, is all of this real? I didn’t dare pinch myself incase of waking up. It was so nice yet again feeling a bit adventurous and daring. I grew up in a small town in Norway. I never really believed that I would ever find my way across the Atlantic Ocean.
The day ended with Nick, Dani and Norah picking us up and driving us back to the hotel. When we woke up the next day it was the day of the 8123 Fest. A day we had been waiting for since late September and it was finally happening. We got picked up by our friends, then we drove to IHOP (I never thought IHOP stood for International House of Pancakes and thought it was some weird tech store…) where I had some amazing pancakes for breakfast. We headed to the fest afterwards and it is surprisingly easy finding parking in Arizona. I do not know how it usually works or if it is always that easy, but we managed to get pretty close to the festival location and then we started queueing up. We ended up talking to a few people, some of them we would become better friends with, sadly after the fest, but we met awesome people. I even met a friend that I have been wanting to meet for such a long time. I got to say hello to one of my favourite photographers, Lupe and actually meet Brennan and Nico from The Technicolors. We talked to Kennedy, bumped into Pat on multiple occasions and I got two hugs from John who asked us how we’ve been. We got a glimpse of Garrett yelling that he would see us all soon (in a nice way) and then he left John behind. Only one we didn’t see mingle was Jared.
In moments where I meet people that means a lot to me I either forget what I’m saying or I’m talking like I’ve known them for years. Meeting John was not a goal for me this time, it was a nice surprise seeing him not surrounded by a lot of people and I just gathered the guts to go up and say hi. It was one of those moments where I just thought it is now or never (later) and when I met those stupid (soft), kind eyes I just… alright, John is one of the humans out there that I’m proud being a fan of. I’m a fan of The Maine and every single one of the members, but John means a lot for reasons I don’t even know. He’s just good. His hugs are awesome and even if he don’t remember you, he makes it feel like he does. I don’t want to sound crazy, but fhsdbgsf I just need to say it. Same with Brennan, I was so nervous I almost bailed. I wanted to just say hi and tell him I appreciate their music. This cool, strange man that calls me ‘Gem’ on Twitter was finally in front of me and I was so scared that he had to leave, but he took the time to meet us as well and he remembered me when I told him I was that Norwegian girl from Twitter! It was just such a nice day. I sit here now and I want it so badly to happen again.
Thanks Kayla, for the photo!
Phoenix was quiet in the parts we were in, but I fell in love with it. Cities that has trams is always cool (it makes things easier). Driving through the desert on our way back to Los Angeles was everything. Boring, fun and full of music and photographing. I didn’t care that we were squished together in the backseat. I got a slushie and saw a bunch of cactuses and beautiful nature. I just enjoyed our journey as a group of friends doing what we love.
A massive thank you to the three beautiful girls that made it all possible. Dani is the sweetest and kindest, Norah is so hilarious and funny, Nicki you beautiful A+ hostess and friend – thank you. You made the experience better than I had expected and I will remember it for a long time. I can’t tell you this enough.
Thank you to 8123 for doing this festival and bringing people together. I gained new friends and got to meet people I never thought I would meet. It was like an emotional bubble but without a lot of the depression. Even if my feet killed me at the end, I would never want to be without this experience and adventure.