The Forest Fam

“What do I do when my love is away?
(Does it worry you to be alone?)
How do I feel by the end of the day?
(Are you sad because you’re on your own?)
No I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm gonna try with a little help from my friends”

I don’t know if I will ever be able to thank you guys enough for what you did for me. Even if none of you realize what exactly it was that you did. When I was at my darkest moment and it felt like the life I had built was crumbling around me, you guys provided me something normal to hold onto. A place where I felt like I belonged. Where I could forget about everything I was going through for a bit and have some fun with friends. I don’t know if I would have made it through without you guys. I love you all. Thank you for being a safe harbour in my time of need.

I had thought that I was going to marry my ex. It was what we had always talked about. So when she broke up with me I was devastated. The life that I had been working towards had evaporated in front of my eyes and I was left wondering where to turn next. I began spiralling. I spent days on end laying on my couch trying to figure out what exactly went wrong. If there was something I could have done differently along the way. Those days were a haze of alcohol and marijuana. Anything I could do to numb the pain and keep my mind off of her for just a little bit. I skipped all of my classes to watch movies about heartbreak over and over again; trying to find some sort of beauty in it. To convince myself that I could come out of this a stronger person. That I could get over her and learn to love someone that completely again.

At the time I couldn’t even begin to imagine that. I felt lost. Incomplete. I cried until I couldn’t physically cry any more. Every day was a struggle to pull myself out of bed. I only managed to get out of my apartment one time and that probably wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t finished all the alcohol I had laying around my place. After almost a week of this wallowing in self pity I knew something had to change. I was hurting. But the constant self medication and social isolation felt self destructive. I needed to be around people. Even if only to force myself to put on a brave face for a while.

When I told you guys we had broken up and I needed to be around people, you were there for me. You let me hang out at your place whenever I wanted for as long as I needed. You let me know that I had people to talk to about it if I wanted to. Part of me thinks it was unfair that I never took any of you up on that offer. To this day I have never really told any of you what happened. But at the time I didn’t need to talk about it. I needed something that felt normal when everything else in my life felt like it was shifting and changing around me. You guys gave me that.

It felt good to be around friends again. When I was with all of you I wasn’t thinking about what I had lost with her. I was thinking about what kind of nonsense we were going to get up to that night. Those late nights adventures were what helped me get through that period in my life. From using Google maps to find the best houses to go pool hopping at on our way home from the bar. To sneaking into the service tunnels under the University late at night to wander around. To having a summer’s long prank war with another house full of friends down the road. The fun we had together felt wild and free in a way that’s nearly impossible to describe. It always felt like on any given night anything could happen. But no matter what craziness we got into, I was always confident that we would get through it together. With another awesome story to add to our growing list. Since graduation we have spread out across the continent to begin our real lives. I miss the days we use to be able to get the whole gang together on a whim. But I will always be grateful for those 2 years we spent together and our trips to The Forest.

The first year we went I almost didn’t go. (I had originally planned on going with my ex and was still pretty shaken up about the breakup, so I wasn’t sure how going without her would feel.) I am glad that you guys talked me into it. It was my first music festival ever so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as we pulled up to the campgrounds after driving through the night I knew that place was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The sun was just peaking over the horizon as people dressed in all sorts of outfits climbed onto the rooftops of their cars; dancing to the music blasting from the cars as we drove through the security check lines. Strangers handed us homemade gifts and welcomed us like old friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while. I was in awe of what I was seeing. There was an aura of acceptance and positivity that you just couldn’t ignore. And we hadn’t even stepped foot in The Forest yet.

I am not convinced that the words to properly describe what that weekend was like exist. If they do, I haven’t found them yet. We danced barefoot with unbridled joy until our legs tired to the point that we fell to the ground laughing as a group. When we needed a break we would retreat into The Forest to lounge in hammocks; musing about life as we watched the wind blow the treetops high above us to and fro. We explored the secrets The Forest had to offer us; getting lost in all the mystery of that magical wonderland. Each new surprise enticing us to find out what else was to be found down the rabbit hole.

When the weekend ended and we packed up the last of our stuff — and I finally noticed how tired and dirty I was after a weekend of no showers and little sleep — I took a moment to reflect. That weekend had sparked something inside of me. It had renewed my passion for music — something that had taken a backseat with everything else going on in my life the previous couple years. It showed me that I still had a lot of new and exciting experiences that lay ahead of me to discover. But most of all it showed me the silver lining in my breakup that I had searched for. I will always remember the moment I had that epiphany.

The sun had dipped below tree line and Cashmere Cat was just beginning his set as dusk turned to night. I had a tab on my tongue for the first time and as I began to get lost in dancing to that strange airy deep house I began to come up. My reality began to shift and change around me in drastic ways. It was overwhelming but amazing at the same time. There was a point where it started to feel like it was becoming too much to handle. I looked around me and saw that I was surrounded by the beautiful faces of people who cared deeply about me. Knowing that made everything feel ok. Even with my perception of reality dissolving around me, I knew we would get through this together. Just like we got through everything else together. I was suddenly reminded of those early days after the breakup.

In that moment I realized what I had gained by losing my ex. In losing that all consuming love with a single person I had made room to recognize all the smaller loves in my life. When I realized that, the pain from the breakup didn’t seem to sting as bad. Maybe I needed to lose something I cared deeply about in order to gain something I never knew I needed. You guys had taken me in and given me a safety net when I felt like I was beginning to spiral out of control. You didn’t push me to talk when I wasn’t ready to. You allowed me to handle the breakup on my own terms; only asking me what you could do to help. I felt like you all genuinely cared about me and you made me feel like I was wanted and belonged. That is something that is hard to convince me of; especially with what I was going through at that point. You are the best friends a person could ever ask for. I love you all. Thank you. For everything.

Even though we are all going our separate ways now, I will always think of you guys like family. I am sad that we aren’t able to be as close as we were at that point in our lives. But if there is one thing that period of my life taught me is that you can’t try and hold on to something longer than you are meant to. Even it is something you care very deeply about. We are conduits, not vessels. So I need to let you all go a little bit. But I will always be thankful for what you guys gave me. You were my wild phase that I needed in order to get over my ex. It may not have been the conventional post breakup wild phase, but it was the one I needed. A part of the person I am today is because of the love you all showed me when I needed it the most. I don’t think I would have made it without your help. I will forever be grateful for having had you guys in my life.

“Laugh until we think we’ll die,
Barefoot on a summer night
Never could be sweeter than with you
And in the streets you run afree,
Like it’s only you and me,
Geez, you’re something to see.”
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