Travel Outside the Comfort Zone

Boston Calling & New Friends

Sometimes the greatest adventures are right in our own back yard. I recently attended the Boston Calling music festival, which is about 100 miles from where I live. Of course, the music and friends were fantastic, and every year it somehow seems even bigger than the last. Although the weekend was full of great memories and new experiences, the first two days felt a little “been there done that”. It wasn’t until Saturday night when I truly felt like I was exploring new lands again.

It was the end of the second long day. Tame Impala was performing, as they’ve done in past Boston Callings, and I was with about half of the friend group I arrived with. General consensus was the other half left for snacks and never found their way back (but we never really found out one way or another). Waiting by a giant golden orb, conveniently placed as a landmark for lost concertgoers to reunite, we sipped a couple overpriced beers and listened to Feels Like We Only Go Backwards, a fantastic song that never quite goes anywhere, but maybe that’s the point.

Coincidence, or Fate?

Unsurprisingly, the tranquility of the moment was abruptly quashed by an outburst from a chaotic group that had a little too much to drink (or a little too much of something else, it was hard to tell). Amused and slightly uncomfortable, my eyes scanned the nearby crowd to see if that resonated with anyone else. To my surprise, I caught a glimpse of a member of our snack-seeking group who had previously been deemed lost in the crowd. Apparently the lines weren’t worth the wait, and she struck up conversation with another girl who was visiting from out of town.

After some brief introductions, we quickly realized we had a lot in common. I called over my fiance and she summoned her significant other, and they hit it off as well. It almost felt unreal: do adults just make new friends like this? We got to know one another for the rest of the Tame Impala set, and as the crowds started to leave, we decided it would be fun to grab a drink somewhere and keep the conversation going.

So, being in a small group of friends, we threw caution to the wind

They immediately had a place in mind; a dusty basement bar in Cambridge I had never heard of before. We carefully stepped down the wooden staircase to be greeted by a surprisingly massive room of freshly cleaned tables and chairs. Last call was in half an hour, but there were a few seats by the bar. Honestly, it felt like we were with guides in a completely new city. The atmosphere was still a familiar New England vibe, but it just didn’t feel like Boston any more. We could have been anywhere, and we were in our own proverbial back yard.

The small talk continued over a round of far more affordable beers: it was just our new couple friends, myself, and my fiance. The guys discovered that they shared a number of obscure interests while I discussed travel with her. I still remember what she told me: “we travel to leave our comfort zone”. This immediately struck a chord with me. How amazing is it for a couple to explore the world together and try new experiences while having to support one another? Seriously, the couple that travels together stays together. I can’t remember the last time I was so enthusiastic and connected with someone I had just met. Before we knew it, the last call bell had rung and we all hopped in a cab. Their friend was throwing a party and apparently it being one in the morning means that the night is still young. So off we went!

Good Times Were Had By All

I could honestly write a whole other piece about the party: just meeting all sorts of new people and learning their stories and interests was and experience I’ll never forget. We all danced and laughed and sung Billy Joel in a basement at two in the morning. It was a celebration of living and laughing and connecting with others, because at the end of the day that’s all we are. You may cross a dozen great friends every day, you just don’t know them yet. Putting yourself out there doesn’t always have to be done at events structured to facilitate socialization: sometimes the stars align to give you a window of opportunity. At Boston Calling we only wanted to enjoy the music with other fans and make a little small talk. There wasn’t any pressure to be particularly personable or eloquent: we could just be. When opportunities arose, we took them, and we had a deeply enriching experience that still resonates within us to this day.

If I had to summarize this adventure with a piece of advice, it would be to make yourself available as a person. When you put walls up you lose sense of what’s going on on the other side. There are a lot of wonderful people and experiences out there: it’s a big world. Keep your head up, welcome opportunities, travel outside your comfort zone from time to time, and as always, wander and ponder.

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