I’m Coming Home: Pre-WayHome Thoughts

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For those of you who don’t know: WayHome is this weekend. At this point I really can’t contain my excitement for the music and arts festival. It’s been a long time coming, and now that it’s only three days away, it feels really surreal. I’ve been following WayHome from the beginning, and I’m proud that I can say that I’ll be part of it in its inaugural year. Everything about it is exciting, and I want to share that excitement.

Everything started back in January. Whispers about a new Canadian music festival began. Posters started popping up around downtown Toronto, advertising an event that nobody was supposed to go to. Bright yellow signs telling people not to come to The Great Hall on February 10th. Then, in fine print: “Although entry is discouraged, it is technically permitted. Doors open at 8 P.M. Orientation begins at 9 P.M. 350 persons max.”

At that point, my best friend Katelyn and I were really too absorbed in all of it to say that we weren’t going to go. We told our friend Marcus about it, and all of us agreed that it was something we had to do. Nobody knew what was going to happen. Most people thought there would be a performance. Some expected that they would give us all free tickets. All I was really hoping for was that the lineup would be released. And all I knew was that even though nothing had happened yet, it felt like this would go down in history.

On February 10th, we showed up at The Great Hall. When we got in, we were handed enveloped marked “DO NOT OPEN.” Some had already opened theirs, and they had free tickets. Marcus, Katelyn, and I mutually decided that we wouldn’t open ours. Part of the lineup was announced. We screamed until our voices were hoarse and we all held onto each other for dear life. And then we got told that if our envelopes were unopened, we were banished to WayHome for life. We all got lifetime passes to the festival. Everything felt surreal and all I really remember is being in awe as we all lined up to trade in our envelopes for our passes. I think there was a group hug involved as we all realized that we were a part of something huge.

Everything to do with WayHome has been insane since day one. It’s weird to be sitting on my bed typing this and thinking back on everything that has happened with this festival, and we haven’t even gone yet. The experience has already been incredible, and the main event is still to come. WayHome seems to be doing everything right. For starters, the lineup is incredible. I’ll be seeing Alvvays for a third time and July Talk for a second, and acts like the Growlers and Passion Pit and St. Vincent and Alt-J for the first time ever. The focus on the arts is also insane. There are so many art installations planned and my heart gets happy just thinking about it. Aside from that, there are so many food trucks it’s crazy, as well as a farmer’s market, an Etsy market that’s most likely going to empty my wallet, a night forest, and so much more.

From the beginning, WayHome has been something that I never thought could be real. I’ve dreamt of going to a huge music festival for so long, but it always seemed like I would have to wait years and travel miles and miles to get to one. And now there’s one less than two hours away from me. And I’ve been part of it since the beginning. WayHome is calling us The Founders. WayHome gave us lifetime passes and that in itself was so much more than I could have ever imagined. Couple that with a festival that’s hosting over sixty of the world’s best acts, and artists from all over the place, and you have something that satisfies every part of me.

On a superficial level, WayHome is satisfying the part of me that can barely go an hour without listening to music and spends half my time lying on my bed listening to records, as well as the part that makes intense connections with art and could probably live without food as long as art galleries exist. On a deeper level, WayHome answered the part of me that wants so badly to be part of a movement, of history, of something so big and intense. WayHome is satisfying my love for local food and independent artists and people who create and make things with their hands and use the talents they have and are doing what they’re passionate about. And I can’t thank them enough for that.

We leave for WayHome on Thursday. The weekend will be spent surrounded by music and art and nature and thousands of people who are all there for the same reason. In some ways, WayHome feels like it’s going to be a fresh start. Or that it’ll flood me with inspiration. Or that i’ll feel whole because of it. At the very least, I think it will breathe new life into all of us. I already know that come Monday, I won’t want to leave. If we’re being honest, Katelyn and I might end up reluctantly dragging each other onto the bus home. The only thing that will keep me sane is the fact that we’ll be going back every year for the rest of our lives.

I still feel the exact same about WayHome as I did on February 10th. It still feels like we’re going to be part of something historic. Even if it’s not a huge deal for the whole world, it’ll feel like a huge deal for all of us involved in it. Honestly, at this point it feels like the biggest, most important thing in the universe. It’s going to be a weekend full of sing alongs and late night dance parties and good food and friends and laughs. If you ask me, it sounds like the perfect way to spend four days of my summer. I can’t wait to be there.

The fact that WayHome is finally here is hard to believe. I get to spend four days with some of my favourite people, as well as all the people we’ll meet while we’re there. I get to immerse myself in art and music and happiness and positivity. I’m going to cherish every millisecond of it. I’m going to take in as much as I can. And it’s going to be a weekend that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. To be honest, it can’t get much better than that.

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