Darien Lake, N.Y. // July 1, 2017
We didn’t manage to follow the bus all the way to Darien Lake. Courtney and Jen drove for a while before pulling over to sleep. I was already out like a light by the time we had hit the highway.
Once we arrived at the amusement park around 11 a.m., we started getting ready in the parking lot (I always hated having to do this) and went to wait outside the in-park venue. There, we ran into the girls we knew from Twitter and the Toronto concert.
Prior to the concert, there was a lot of fighting between fans and parents. I’m not going to go into detail, but the pettiness made the experience incredibly irritating. Also, the venue workers could never answer a question the same.
The whole ordeal had ruined my mood. I could not wait for the day to be over.
Meet and greet was the same as the previous concerts, as was the concert itself, but the biggest difference was Ryland’s opening act. The youngest Lynch sibling, Ryland is known for his DJ skills, which I had never seen before. You could say I was incredibly excited to see his set for the first time.
This concert was my least favorite out of the four, but I had to remind myself that it wasn’t the band’s fault that the venue workers and other fans made the experience unsatisfying.
After the concert, Courtney, Jen and I met up with the girls we had recently encountered and talked until dark. We gave up our hopes of seeing the band after the concert, so we decided to leave.
As we drove toward the highway, Jen got a call from Diamond.
“Where are you?” Diamond asked.
“We are heading toward the highway,” Jen responded.
“How far are you? We forgot something at the park and need to go back and get it.” Diamond said.
“We’re like 10 or 15 minutes out. We can go back,” Jen said.
“Come meet us at the Flying J,” Diamond said.
We knew which Flying J he was referring to, because we had stopped there before going to the park. The problem was that we weren’t 10 or 15 minutes out. We were actually 30 minutes away from the park, and the gas station was another 10 in the opposite direction.
Needless to say, we drove pretty fast to get to the Flying J but not without a few calls from Diamond inquiring about our location.
After finally arriving at the gas station, we met Diamond. He sent Courtney with the production manager back to the park to pick up the suitcase they left.
The reason this mission was important was because Diamond was driving the crew’s bus for the night, which isn’t his job. They had fired the previous bus driver that morning because of his reckless driving. Courtney and Jen had witnessed the driving the previous night when we were following the bus. We also had a car, which would get to the park faster than a giant bus.
The moment we met up with Diamond, we began hanging out. We decided to go to the store, but this is when my feet decided to embarrass me. As I was walking, I fell onto the cement, scraping my knee and elbow badly. Once we got to the store, I rushed to the bathroom, attempting to clean my bloody mess.
The bathroom happened to be conveniently located across from the Denny’s, where R5 was walking out. Jen made a beeline for the boys, while I was on a mission to clean my wounds.
I opened the bathroom door and immediately did a double take because Rydel was at the sink. In this exact moment, I was hit with how the whole situation was. I wasn’t about to be the person who starts a conversation in the bathroom, so I just went to the sink beside her and cleaned my arm.
After a poor attempt at cleaning my arm, Jen and I went on the crew bus and talked with the band’s crew. When Courtney arrived, we left and prepared to follow the bus to Philadelphia. We happened to run into the girls we knew again, and Ryland joined us for a short conversation by the gas pumps. Diamond had introduced us to the other bus driver, so they already knew we planned to follow the bus.
Needless to say, the bus ride to Philadelphia was interesting. Every time the tour buses stopped, we stopped (which was only once). The part that shocked us the most was that the buses would stop for us every time we had to go through a toll. They even stopped to give us toll change because we only had larger bills on us. They were extremely generous to us.
Philadelphia, P.A. // July 2, 2017
Philadelphia was an interesting experience. When we got to the concert, we had to wait in a spooky alley, and we witnessed a fight that almost ended in a stabbing. It wasn’t hard for me to conclude that going to Philadelphia again wouldn’t upset me.
This final concert was another situation where I was split up from Jen and Courtney. Once again, I was alone and feeling incredibly uncomfortable. My anxiety spiked, and I began to feel claustrophobic. I tried to remove myself from the crowd, as I did in Boston, but it was seemingly impossible. When I looked back, I couldn’t see an end to the crowd. I didn’t enjoy this concert as much, simply because of those circumstances. I am actually quite surprised that I didn’t faint because I’ve been in the same condition in smaller crowds.
After the concert, the band was M.I.A. Many fans were crowding around the bus, so the venue had to put up gates in order for the crew to get through. Jen, Courtney and I decided against waiting by the bus and instead thought we’d rather walk through the dark streets (yes, we are smarter than this). As we made our way through the darkness, I decided to stop at a little corner store to get a drink. While the cashier was getting my change, I looked out the window and saw the male band members with Jen, Courtney and a couple fans I didn’t know.
They were looking for a bar to go to, but the only one we knew of was the bar right next to the venue. After failing to find a back entrance to the bar, we managed to sneak them in without being mauled by fans.
Eventually, a fan’s mother noticed they were in the bar, so they decided to come out and greet fans. After fans left, we ended up going back into the venue and hanging out.
I finally remembered to give Ross his flip-flops that I had bought back at the Duty Free in Canada.
“You’re so funny. I love them,” Ross said, putting the flip-flops on his hands.
It was a bittersweet moment because it was our last stop for the tour — or at least my last stop. Jen and Courtney brought me back to New York because I had plans coming up, and they drove to Baltimore for the next concert. They hung out with the band that night too.
The whole trip was an experience I will never forget for many reasons. I got to hang out with one of my favorite bands, and I pushed my anxiety to the limit. I didn’t let it control me as it usually does. There were plenty of moments I could have let the anxiety take control, but I refused to let it ruin the experience.
Be sure to check out R5’s latest single, “Hurts Good.” Also be on the lookout for “My Friend Dahmer,” starring R5’s Ross Lynch in theaters Nov. 3.