Many years this weekend would be spent packing suitcases, getting all of my recording equipment, cleaning the camera, packing batteries upon batteries upon batteries, and making sure all of the memory cards are clear. I’d be hopping in a car and traveling out to the middle of nowhere in Illinois. I’d be sitting out in the heat, the cold, the mud, the rain, the dust, and getting pounded by loud thudding music from Noon to 2 AM each day for a week. This year I’ll be doing none of that.
2012 was the last year for Cornerstone Festival and admittedly, I’ve been a little bit in denial. The 2012 festival was so hot and so draining that I spent more time concentrating on how sweaty and tired I was more than that I was at the last Cornerstone Festival. I kept thinking at some point something miraculous would save the festival. The finality set in when the property was sold. Scott, the festival co-director, sent me photos of the ground flooding with water running down the hill of the former mainstage. Then I saw the photos of fields plowed where tents used to be and it was time to accept that the festival was not coming back.
So, there are no tents. There are no bands. No lemon shake-ups. No ribeye sammiches. No awkward conversations with musicians. No late drives back to the dorm giggling uncontrollably about some dumb joke. There is no long road-trip and saddest of all, no gathering of friends out in a field miles from anything. I’ve been mourning in my own way, watching some beautiful videos of last year’s festival and listening to some of my recordings. It’s been a big year of transition for our little group, with all the babies (and Lord willing, the White triplets joining the ranks) we’ll have added six children. That’s a lot of babies and would surely have impacted our meeting this year. I had planned to skip the festival in 2012, but went since it was the last, so I’m trying to think of this year as my year off. There’s another music festival starting up not too far away in Champaign, Illinois that will be similar, but not the same. I bought a ticket even though I’m not traveling up there, because I really do hope they have a successful first year. Maybe with every death there is a birth somewhere to make up for it. I don’t know if that festival will become our festival or not, but we’ll have to wait and see, maybe I’ll check it out in 2014.
For this year, however, I’m taking a Sabbath. I’m going to enjoy staying home with my girls as it will be the first Fourth of July we’ve celebrated together since they were 1. Normally, I run the Peachtree Road Race when I’m not at Cornerstone, but I’m taking a break from that, too. We’ll watch some fireworks somewhere (maybe on TV since it looks like it may rain) and we’ll do something fun. That hasn’t prevented the profound sense of loss I’m feeling and I’m a little mopey this week. I’ve had a year to prepare for this, but inevitably when the seasons change and I have those feelings as I count down to the week like it’s Christmas, there is nothing when I get to 0 this year. I’m letting myself be a little sad, as long as it doesn’t bleed into the other parts of my life, and I’m trying to hold on to a little bit of hope. Call me hopelessly optimistic, somewhere in my mind I dream of something that will emerge in the next ten years and some music festival will fill the place of Cornerstone Festival and my children will run around with the other “Cornerstone kids” and tell us all about the crazy bands they want to go see. In the meantime, we’ll tell our stories and try to keep the memories lingering for a little longer.