“Have a cup of tea.” Says a helpful voice, carefully placing a cardboard mug next to me on the grass floor. It’s the third festival I’ve been to with my Dad, by this time we have worked up a routine of starting our day in the comedy tent, theatre in the afternoon, then finding some music to dance to by late afternoon.
That day hadn’t been much of an exception, although he’d left me at the stands to watch Two Door Cinema Club, preferring to find something slightly more unique to listen to. I’d sat and watched the far off figures on the stage, sitting completely still – only shuffling to pull on a hoodie and mac when the clouds skidded over the arena. They said their ‘thank yous’ and walked off stage, the arena emptied of people for the time being while the stage was set up for the next act. Dad had agreed with me that this would be our time to find food. At the bottom of the stand he appeared in his Tilley hat and blue mac, waving the program. I stood up and walked down, the frame of the platform shaking slightly as everyone swapped seats and reorganised themselves, this made me unsteady as I had to think harder to be certain my foot would touch the chipboard step below me.
As I reached the bottom he moved closer, parental instinct jumping in at closer inspection of my face. The noise around me had turned to clatter and yells which reverberated against my skull. Voices which seemed like shouts ricocheted around my head. No longer feeling my arms I collapsed my head into his shoulder. “Lets find you somewhere to lie down.”
We walked back through the whole festival to the main help tent, outside the ticket gates, helpful looking volunteers steered us into the room full of mats on the grass. I was barely noticing anything but the floor, I still felt I was swimming through golden syrup. Lying down and pulling the donated blanket over my upper torso and head I let the world wash away.
“Tea doesn’t help.” I protested when Dad tried lifting the tea to my mouth. “It’s not that sort of tired.” Dad quickly looked around to check the volunteers hadn’t heard in case they thought I was ungrateful, instead of brutally honest. My eyes darted around the room, spotting someone who’d just thrown up, “Dad…” I gesticulated towards the man, looking too much into the weird mess of sick on his mat. Dad called to one of the volunteers, understanding that I wouldn’t have the energy to do it.
We ate our packed tea in silence.
“Is there anywhere you’d like to stand?” We’d had a fairly good system of him pushing me further than I was comfortable standing when standing to watch the main stage, proving to myself that I would be okay with it once the music started. Now though, he understood that standing would be too hard, too exhausting.
This was three years ago now, the summer before my A Levels when I didn’t have to think about energy levels in the way that I’ve learnt to do now. The point was that we don’t know when this level of exhaustion is going to hit, I’d been to the same festival a few years in a row, gotten used to the routine. And yet here I was completely exhausted unable to process any more.