The highlights of 2021

Happy New Year friends! I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 2022… And by that I mean I am absolutely petrified for what the next year will bring. I feel like we are at the beginning of 2020 take 2. 2020 two? 2020 too? It’s gonna be a shit show. Can’t wait until it’s my turn to get COVID!

But hey, I’m not here to talk about humanity’s impending doom! I’m here to talk to you about the year that was. 2021.

I remember 2021 in two segments, and my highlights reflect that. The first six to seven months of the year were mostly a dream. Live music was back (and I really made the most of that), uni was no longer online, and I was actually able to leave Canberra without fearing for my life. But that was not long lasting. The second half made me realise what’s important. So let’s get into it, shall we?

I have been doing a lot of reminiscing as things have been going from bad to worse with regard to COVID over the last few days and I am expecting this post to be one of five throughout the week, so keep your bloody eyes out!

On the 6th of February last year, my friend Lara and I saw Ocean Alley live at the Canberra Theatre, and it was MARVELLOUS. Before this concert, the last live ANYTHING I saw was in O-Week of 2020 when I was just starting my degree, and I am just about to go into my final year. It wasn’t just the show itself that was amazing, it was also the whole being able to be part of a crowd again thing too. We spoke to the people around us, JUST BECAUSE WE COULD! One girl even shared her Malteasers with us. I wonder what she’s doing now.

Ocean Alley are one of my top Australian bands of all time EVER, so watching them as the first concert experience post-COVID was always going to be special. But at that point in time, I would have been excited just to watch boring old Andre Rieu if it meant being in a crowd again. Amazingly, it ended up being one of the best live concerts I have ever seen in my lifetime – which is really saying something because I have seen MANY. Even if we could only do sit down dancing in our seats. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

We had a lot of musical plans for February 2021 and also made it to Summersalt Festival, which was an experience in itself. Before the pandemic officially began, I managed to make it to Laneway Festival in Sydney in February of 2020 with the intention of it being the catalyst for a year filled with festivals. But COVID had other ideas.

The lead up to Summersalt was MUCH anticipated and it will definitely be a festival I will never forget. The panic a couple of days before to make sure we all had a fold-up chair to SIT ON (a new festival experience), the DANCING BUT ONLY IN FRONT OF YOUR SEAT thing, and the OH CRAP THIS IS ACTUALLY GOING AHEAD I NEED TO BUY AN OUTFIT period will be forever imbedded in my brain, and for only good reasons. We sat and vibed to Boy and Bear, The Teskey Brothers, John Butler and the Cat Empire, while being some of the youngest people there. Seriously, the average age was probably 40. But they were my people.

Shortly after Summersalt, I dragged Oli along to see Spacey Jane at the Canberra Theatre in March, and I am very confident when I say we both had the best time. I SHOULD MENTION the biggest robbery of 2021 here too; when Booster Seat by Spacey Jane came second in the triple j’s Hottest 100 behind Heat Waves, but like seriously don’t even get me started on that because it is a conversation that will never have an ending. Spacey Jane really just came out of nowhere and took over my Spotify listen minutes in 2020 AND 2021, and it was just really bloody good to be able to see them live.

Despite one Oliver Witrzens getting up to use the bathroom RIGHT before one of my favourite songs came on, we both had the best time ever. The highlights of this highlight were watching the band themselves looking at each other with pure elation – as this concert was the first of their tour that was a long, long time coming – and watching other people enjoying live music as much as I do. Particularly when you drag them along and they end up loving the band as much as you. Thanks for coming Oli, and you’re welcome 🙂

Throughout this period of watching A LOT of live music, I was also GOING BACK TO UNI IN PERSON, which was the first (and only) full semester of actual uni uni rather than Zoom uni I have had. At the time I don’t think any of us realised that this too would be super short lived, but it was just nice to not attend class in the same room I slept in that night, you know?

In this first semester I was also able to produce a lot of work I was really proud of and also really enjoyed doing. I spoke to Oliver from ACTUAL BAND Good Lekker for a podcast I made that also got published, and wrote an assignment on a Solange song. Wild right? 

Although the second semester lasted for only two in-person weeks, I should mention my uni experience this year in its entirety was a highlight. I got to speak to so many amazing people with amazing stories including Tara Cheyne (fangirl moment) and was able to assist in others sharing experiences that needed to be talked about. It’s a good feeling when you realise you are studying the right degree.

Speaking of Good Lekker, the HIGHLIGHT OF ALL HIGHLIGHTS of 2021 was being able to leave Canberra for Wollongong to attend a two-day music festival with some of the loveliest friends of mine. Yours & Owls fest had been postponed two or three times up until this point, and we were all so glad that it eventually went ahead in April. I had THE MOST FUN and the music was just so great, and I’m so grateful to have spent it with the people I did.

The festival was seated but less policed, meaning we could (and did) dance as much as we wanted to, and move around to get drinks and snacks so long as it was within out little section. The stage even rotated (?) so all four sections got a good view of the performances, and the acts truly brought their all. I’m so grateful to have gone to this COVID-era festival and will never ever ever forget it (or the 6-week-long NOT COVID cold I got after it).

Being forced to spend so much time apart from your friends really makes you realise how much you love and need them in your life, and one of the major highlights of my 2021 was literally any moment I spent with them. I made new friendships this year that I will hopefully take with me throughout the rest of my lifetime, and stayed connected with long lasting ones from school. I love every moment I spend with all-a-y’all. Please never ever leave me.

And last but absolutely not least, my most important highlight was being able to spend this year with one of the best people I’ve ever met. We got to know each other throughout the craziness of the year (shout out to Andrew Barr for letting ‘intimate partners’ see each other throughout the lockdown – but like maybe think of a less weird way of expressing it if there is a next time), and I am very lucky to be able to say that. I don’t want to say too much to embarrass you – but you are my best and proudest highlight of 2021. Thanks for watching reruns of Harry Potter and Queer Eye with me, and not judging me for crying in every single movie we ever watch together. You made my 2021 incredible, even with its numerous tribulations.

Looking back on 2021 is not something I want to make a habit of, but doing so with these things in mind blocks out everything else. I loved it, and the memories I made are some of the best I ever have. A big thank you to those who allowed me to spend the last year with them. And if you take anything away from this post, it’s that there is always goodness amongst the chaos.

Remember that.

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