Mac Miller was the second concert I ever went to. My friend Michelle and I made the roughly five-hour drive to Toronto from Detroit to see Mac perform alongside fellow Pittsburgh native Wiz Khalifa. The reason we chose to see Mac in Toronto instead of Detroit was that we were 19 and wanted to be able to drink at the show. For a tour called “Under The Influence,” it only seemed appropriate.
At the concert, I was able to buy a slick two beers before I ran out of money. We had to walk home for a good two hours from the venue to our hotel as a result. Mind you, this was in 2012, only two years after I graduated high school. I was young, stupid, and broke. But during that trip, I honestly never felt more badass in my life, despite everything that went “wrong.”
Today, I’m 30 and I feel completely detached from that spunky 19-year-old version of myself. I have to admit, I miss her. Now, I live my life according to spreadsheets and alarm clocks and deadlines and I won’t go somewhere unless I research the parking situation first. Instead of pondering what could go right during my day, I make sure to account for all of those things that could go wrong because I assume that is what is going to happen. I am constantly beating myself up for mistakes and tiptoeing around my life and relationships because I’m so afraid of fucking something up or, worse, asking for too much from someone else and being seen as needy and too much.
In short, I’m exhausted. But mostly, I’m disappointed. I feel like in many ways, I let my younger self down. I have things together but I’m so afraid of everything falling apart that I white knuckle my way through life instead of letting things fall where they may and trusting myself that I’ll be able to pick up the pieces. Sometimes, I think I’m one inconvenience or mistake away from a total fucking breakdown.
But then I think back to that rainy Toronto evening after the concert, walking in bare feet because my sandals had given me blisters, wishing we had the money for a taxi but accepting that this was our fate and we’d figure it out. And we did. We got back to our shitty hotel. We got home in one piece. We had fun and had the stories to tell and the memories to hold onto. It was messy and imperfect and reckless.
In looking back, it was everything it should have been. It was also everything I wish I allowed myself to be. I wouldn’t have come to this realization without Mac and his music. After all, within Mac’s discography, he makes room for multitudes. He owns imperfection. His songs contain hope and fear and misery and magnificence and lust and love and loss and insecurity and disappointment. And yet, it all made sense together. And it didn’t make me love his music any less. It only made me love and connect with him more.
Today would have been Mac Miller’s 30th birthday. In honor of his memory, I will start living my life the way he encourages us to through his music: fully and completely.
As I’ve been writing this, I’ve been listening to his entire music collection and there was one lyric I’m in his song “Best Day Ever” that brought me some comfort:
“No matter where life takes me, find me with a smile,” he raps.
I hope you’re smiling now, Mac, wherever you find yourself. I have a feeling you are.
Thank you for everything.