My Worst Nightmare: Coachella
If theres any time where I’ve had a full blown anxiety attack, a meltdown, and an exhausting, complete mess of a situation in one short weekend, this was it. I was fully prepared, excited and highly anticipating Coachella Weekend 1, but in the next minute it went from easy peezy lemon squeezy- to full blown maximum stress, my worst nightmare and absolutely dreading it before I could even say the actual word “Coachella.”
We found out a day and a half before the festival that our sponsor had backed out. We were doing a collaboration with a magazine and prestigious fashion brand with Artist Pass wristbands and a full team to shoot our weekend in the desert. From day parties to top celebrities attending the iconic fest in Indio, California, I was ready for it after last year exposing me to the best vacation and opportunity central of LA. Talk about being excited.. i had no worries at all! Until we got a call that not only would we NOT be doing a magazine and fashion brand collab anymore, but our wristbands and accommodations would no longer be available either.
I literally felt my heart drop into my stomach.
I wanted to scream because this is the best time to work with your favorite brands and network with anyone in the LA industry! I had other opportunities who called me that could have been just as great too, and I had promised some brands already that I would be at the festival;
So I had no choice.
We were going.
Tickets or not.
Hotel or not.
No guarantee at all of what will happen over the weekend.
But I would be there.. with my camera and my cute outfits in high hopes of finding a way into the entrance of Coachella 2018.
Poor Garrett got the hard end of this deal. I was definitely anxious contemplating in my mind all the “what ifs." He had to deal with the change of plans, the nightmare of figuring something out and worst of all, The Wrath of Libs. Our brand mess up was already enough, but now we had to drive to Coachella without a hotel or a place to stay, without wristbands, without a festival background to shoot my content and without my enthusiasm. That went out the door the second I heard about the very abrupt and horrific “change of plans.” Every hotel and Air Bnb was sold out months in advance, and our friends didn’t have room for two more people to squeeze, so we were left with the small optimism in our hearts and to be prepared for the absolute worst.
We arrive in Palm Springs at 7am, grab a large coffee and set off to our first obligation of the weekend. I am shooting with Schutz Shoes today for their Nordstrom limited line, and for a moment I forget about the mess ahead.
After the shoot, Garrett picks me up with some good news that we have wristbands to Combsfest x nANA jUDY party, and we could potentially shoot a couple photos there. My next obligation: Get day 2 photos of my outfit.
We arrive and I can’t shoot at the party. No only does the light look awful and there are people everywhere, but when celebrities are present it is pretty much banned to have a professional camera brought inside. I’m enjoying the party don’t get me wrong, but the 100 degree weather is melting my make up and my spray tan, so a photo is getting less and less possible. No bueno. Instead, we get iPhone photos and enjoy the day for what its worth, dancing to Erick Morillo and seeing familiar faces. The party ends with police and firemen cramming their way inside for a girl that got alcohol poisoning- and we slip out in the nick of time, hoping the best for the girl but not wanting to see how it all ends.
The sun is setting and we decide to bag the idea of getting a great photo of my day 2 outfit, and we move onto the next obligation: getting a photo at the windmills. The timing couldn’t be more perfect with the golden hour light blazing through the desert, and Garrett starts to drive us toward the windmills about 30 minutes away. After we get to the edge of town, I can’t see the windmills. We are both on the verge of passing out from lack of sleep for the past 4 busy days, and I know hallucinations are already making an appearance. I can’t trust my judgement at this point with so many factors taking me toward failure, and I get extremely frustrated that I don’t see what we drove so far away for.
Eventually we realize we went in the complete opposite direction, and I am watching the sun set behind the mountains, along with the glorious golden light we need for a photo.
My initial reaction was that we might be able to swing it, speeding toward the RIGHT direction with Garrett’s face plastered back, grabbing anything in sight that can to hold him in his seat; but as I got closer to the windmills that I can finally see (I think), the light has tucked behind the mountains. We lost the light and we were left in darkness with only one lousy iPhone shot from one outfit, with many to go and only one day left..
On the bright side, we found a place to crash for the night and Garrett left me alone with my frustration. I was so exhausted from only sleeping 3 hours for the past 3 days and stress was having a physical and mental affect on me to the point I couldn’t even think clearly. My only logical idea was to wake up at sunrise for the same windmill photo-and figure out the rest from there.
I slept two hours last night and my eyes are glassy and red from my brain not being able to shut up about all of the "what ifs". I slap on SPF because it’s the only thing that matters at this point and climb into the car at 6am with close to nothing left inside of me. Garrett is quiet and we drive in silence to the windmills, stopping just in time when the light peeks over the mountains. I lather my lips in my favorite Fresh Cosmetics tinted chapstick, get dressed and head for the location on foot with Garrett right behind me. I feel the warmth of the desert sun on my back as the morning creeps up, and it is the first successful photoshoot of the weekend.
After the photos turned out better than I imagined, G says we have to drive to Morongo Casino to meet up with his friends who potentially have 2 wristbands for us. My eyes are heavy and the idea of brands emailing me back from the news that I didn’t make it to the festival is taunting me. We have to go. I know that if I don’t make it, it’s not the end of the world. But to make brands promises, a guarantee of attendance, and not come through? Totally not me. I’m embarrassed and mad at myself that I didn’t have a back up plan, so this is our last chance.
We drive another 30 miles to a small area, only known for its Casino next to Coachella Valley. I walk inside with Garrett in heel boots, sweatpants, dirt covering every inch of me and a bra. People look at me as if thinking “What happened to you last night” but I waltzed through the casino with no shame to meet some strangers.
Some random people that I've never met are standing next to a reception desk in the middle of a Casino 40 miles away from Coachella Festival, with 2 freaking wristbands in their hands.
I swear in this moment I saw god place two angels in front of us and slid the wristbands onto my wrist himself. I didn’t even believe it while Garrett struggled to get his gigantic hand into someone else wristband, thinking they HAD to be tampered with. I checked the stitching to see if they had been cut off and re glued together; I checked the chip that allows you inside the fest.. Everything appeared to be fine (but that is also how i felt a couple days before with 2 Artist passes, a magazine feature and a brand collaboration, and we all know how that turned out). Reluctantly we made our way back to the car, and I couldn’t help but smile a little. Garrett came through with wristbands! This is best case scenario at this point. We have no idea if they will actually get us inside or if they work, but hey,
WE HAVE COACHELLA TICKETS!
Everything went by like the speed of light after that, and our weekend turned from night to day. We had friends at a house that wanted to hang out and go to the festival with us who said we can shoot at their house. Nonetheless, we showed up, got dressed, took some badly needed content and headed in a party bus toward the festival. Life couldn't be better, and I started to reflect on the past couple of days, realizing things can turn around at any moment. I had so many obligations this weekend, and one-by-one we were knocking them out. In the bus I looked over at Garrett, who continued to make it work and have faith that it will work out, and I gave him a fat kiss as a thank you.
Through the never-ending lines, dust and multiple security points, we made it in. The wristbands worked and my boots were digging into Coachella dirt finally; I couldn't believe it! And it only got better.
Nylon Magazine stopped me asking if I would be interested in being featured for their Coachella issue. I would get featured in their magazine, a new pair of shoes and my name + handle in the magazine. I looked at the official forms in the woman's hands, surprised that they wanted me. I wanted to die! Nylon Magazine? Was I dreaming? I put the shoes on (yes, Cinderella moment they fit perfectly) and shot photos for the magazine with them. I answered a couple of interview questions, signed my name on the dotted line and walked away with my head in the clouds.
I actually stepped in gum two minutes later in my new shoes but who cares?! I am going to be featured in Nylon Magazine!!
From there, I met with my photographer friend Tommy Lundberg to shoot, and I watched the sun fall behind the mountains again, but this time I watched it fall behind the legendary ferris wheel too. From last night to now, I didn't know it was possible.
The palm trees began to light up purple and red as I remembered, and I grabbed Garrett's hand to dance through the last night of Weekend 1. We spent our day zig-zagging through the waves of festival goers, stopping from time to time so say hello to a familiar face. We paraded to each of the exclusive art sculptures to take a photo and observe the deeper meaning of their existence, and each time had a conversation on how it made it to the polo fields of Indio, California. The crew and us decided on our line up for the evening, and it started with one of my favorite artists at sundown, Odesza.
Making our way through the insane crowds of people [that I recently found out went from 99,000 last year to 125,000 this year], we found a grassy spot with a great view and took a second to soak in the sacred moment. We were surrounded by a group of amazing friends, 125,000 people with positive energy radiating from the inside out while the sky turned purple, pink and blue all at once. The stage lit up and the crowd boomed with excitement. We danced from Odesza to Migos, Cardi B to Eminem and didn’t miss a beat.
In times like this it's vital I learn from what I could have done better. What I can do next year to make sure it doesn’t happen, and if it does what could I have done differently? I realized that no matter what, I have to let the stress roll off of my back. I have to let the sun set and remind myself it will rise again tomorrow. I have to remember how blessed I am to only have a minor problem of growth in my career, and nothing that pertains to my health or the most important things in my life. I have to remember things will always turn out, whether its easy as Sunday morning or the next following weekend. I am getting so many positive reminders that my hard work will pay off, and it's my reaction to the situation that is most important.
In the words of my IG caption, "I don’t know if the stars aligned or my good karma came, but I can definitely say it was meant to be this way. I feel like these are the moments we live for- The unplanned, spontaneous and raw moments that take us down to earth about our connection to this world and where we stand in it. 🎡💙”