A Festival Love Story

TH!NK? Festival, photo: Arvid Wünsch

For Free: One brown vintage v-neck sweater and one oversized striped H&M tank top!
Why am I giving them away? Well, let me explain…

It all began a few weeks ago when I made the two hour bus ride to Leipzig to attend the TH!NK? festival, an annual one-day techno festival located next to a beautiful lake. When I boarded my bus in my blue marbled stretchy spandex shorts and striped crop top tank, I knew I was going to have an amazing day. I had no idea, however, that life as I know it would be forever changed. Furthermore, I had no idea that as a result, I would return to Berlin a much happier, more romantic version of myself.

Upon arriving in Leipzig I messaged my flatmate. She had gone down to Leipzig a few days prior and we were going to meet at the train station when I arrived. There, I was going to rent a bike and then we were going to ride to the festival together (along with some other friends.) Somewhere along the way, the wires of communication got crossed. My friends were no longer meeting me at the station…because they were already at the festival. Scheisse.

No biggie, I thought. I am a lone wolf anyway. I will just meet up with them when I’m there. Because I was only staying for one day/night, I had packed very lightly, just a toothbrush and a light jacket (not even a change of clothes or an umbrella.) I did pack plenty of pre-party provisions, however.

As I waited for the tram to take me to the festival, I poured some vodka into a half empty Redbull can (no judgement please, I had a whole day of partying ahead of me). Once aboard, I met some very nice people who were also heading to TH!NK?. Because I had to wait a while for the transfer bus, I had plenty of time to bond with my new friends. We shared drinks, swapped stories, and got each other pumped for the impending dance party. All the while, my flatmate was texting and calling, trying to give me directions to where she was. “It’s ok,” I told her, “I met some new friends, I will meet up with you in a little bit.”

photo: Diana Wernicke

We finally made it inside and ran to catch the last half of Jan Blomqvist’s set. After dancing like a maniac, I felt the sudden urge to chill. I told my new friends that I was going to the bathroom and just like that, I was a lone wolf once again.

The reason I am telling you this backstory is so you understand all of the random events that led me to meeting the owner of that sweater and tank top mentioned above. You see, there were so many forces against us not meeting, yet deep down, I feel like that whole day was manufactured in some crazy laboratory so that we would indeed meet.

90s Dad on Vacation

After navigating myself safely in and out of the portable toilets (not an easy feat), I decided to chill on a hill next to the giant wooden “TH!NK?” sign. I wanted to watch the crowd while reflecting on my life in Berlin. In the last year and a half, I had met my share of emotionally unavailable men (boys?). Though I hadn’t been ready for a meaningful connection before, I was slowly starting to realize that I wanted, no needed, something more substantial. At that moment, I saw one of the girls from my group walking down below. I had to make a quick decision — should I run down the hill and meet up with her, or should I remain anonymous in a sea full of people?

I don’t know why exactly, but I decided to remain alone on that hill.

photo: Frank Embacher

A few moments later you appeared on the patch of grass next to me. You looked like a 90s dad on a Hawaiian vacation; short sleeve button up (completely unbuttoned), flat billed Hawaiian print cap, bushy beard, piercing gray eyes, and dirty bare feet. And don’t get me started on your smile, a smile that could send the coolest of cucumbers into anaphylactic shock. You were far from perfect — but you seemed perfect to me.

Though we had a nice chat, what you said wasn’t important. It was the settledness you exuded — so at ease, so happy at the core, so full of life.

I joked about how much I wanted a beer, but that I was feeling way too chill to move. A few minutes later, you jumped up to get us some. When you returned a few minutes later, you not only had a beer for me, but one for each of your friends as well. All the while, you never stopped smiling.

Your friends were eager to dance and you asked if I wanted to join. Why I decided to follow you after only knowing you a few minutes, I will never know. The only thing I can say is that you put a spell on me. I honestly felt like in that moment I would have followed you anywhere.

photo: Diana Wernicke

On the way to the stage, you stopped to grab another beer. I offered to pay for the round, but you refused. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Berlin anymore.

Ordering the beers took longer than expected and by the time we received them, your friends had already disappeared into the crowd. As we pushed our way through the sea of people trying to find them, we ran into a few of my friends. Though they wanted me to follow them, I felt the urge to stay with you, a complete stranger.

“I’ll meet up with his friends, and then I will come find you,” I assured my flatmate. They had a spot by the lake, so it’d be easy to track them down.

The Kiss

We still couldn’t find your friends so we went to meet up with mine instead. “Have you swam yet?” my flatmate asked me. Before I could answer you were stripping down to nothing, well not nothing, you did have on a tiny speedo. “So European,” I thought. I began stripping down as well. Luckily, I’d had the foresight to wear my bikini bottoms underneath my ridiculous shorts.

As I followed you into the water (which was surprisingly warm), I couldn’t help but feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Not only was I surrounded by a picturesque waterscape, but I was with you, a beautiful site in itself.

photo: Mandy Toelk

When you saw my body, your grin got wider. “What?” I asked sheepishly. You proceeded to try to explain yourself but nothing came out. Me, in front of you, literally took the words out of your mouth.

I can always tell when a boy is about to kiss me; the eye contact gets more frequent, the chatter gets more nervous, and the gap between us slowly dissolves. Kissing you felt so good; soft, a bit messy, but strangely comfortable.

“Let’s swim to the boat,” you joked. “But, I’m not a strong swimmer,” I replied. You then picked up my weightless legs under the water and wrapped them around you, threatening to take me with you. I flung my arms around your neck and laughed nervously, “But I’m not a strong swimmer!” I liked how my body felt wrapped up next to yours. We kissed some more.

Born Again Romantic

Once out of the water, we got dressed and followed my friends to a space in the crowd. They wanted to dance. After a few minutes you leaned over and whispered, “your friends are lovely, but I really must find my friends…would you like to come with?” At this point in time, I felt like I’d been following you around like a little puppy all day. I just wanted to chill and enjoy the moment. “You go ahead,” I told you “I’m going to stay here.”

“Ok. If you’re here later, I will come back.” you told me. “Give me your number just in case,” I shouted over the music. “I’m not giving you my number,” you replied, “If you’re here in this same spot, I’ll be back.” Was this some sort of test? A game? A riddle? I’ll admit, I was a bit disappointed by your ambiguity, but I never for one second, thought I wouldn’t see you again.
I nodded my head for you to go, and you disappeared into the crowd.

photo: Frank Embacher

Shortly after you left, my friends decided they wanted to check out another stage. That’s when I looked down and noticed that you had left your bag on the ground. The contents of the bag were as follows: a brown vintage v-neck sweater (sound familiar?), a pair of classic Birkenstocks, and a damp towel. You left your bag with me. Was it on purpose? I’ll never know.

I didn’t have much choice but to stay there. “If he left his bag, it means he is definitely coming back,” I told myself. I didn’t have time to think about much else because that’s when it started to pour. I quickly took shelter under a tent crammed with 40 other festival goers, all the while, still clutching your muddy bag in my hand. I wouldn’t have minded the rain so much if I hadn’t been barefoot and my clothes hadn’t still been soaking from the previous dip in the lake. Despite the circumstances, I tried my best to just enjoy the music, occasionally scanning the crowd to see if you’d come back for your bag. You didn’t.


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