Goodbye to the Girl in the Song
Of all the plaid shirts in this place, you somehow ask what I'd like to drink. You're a singer-songwriter you say, like it's only the air you breathe.
You're everything my 24-year-old heart begs for -- a musician, passionate, and funny. Well, mostly you welcome my jokes with stares to the beer stained floor. But you'll appreciate them eventually. And hey, it's okay if you don't! You're a blue-eyed boy who comes alive in beats and chords and words that blaze off your fingers. Shared laughter is optional.
Here in your shadow, small talk feels smaller. More claustrophobic. I'd prefer to stand on a table and scream that you're the loveliest string of lights I've ever seen and I'd like to stroll these firefly streets with you please. Instead, I master my role of Girl Picking at Pills on Her Sweater. I shy from your eyes; if I don't, you'll know that you could disappear all my scars in a second.
For you, I'll be a New York minute or whiskey on ice or lipstick smudged into the collar of your shirt. I'll be whatever you want. Just find my light lovely enough to photograph into a song.
"I don't have anything planned," you say when we greet days later for our date. "We could walk, I guess."
Huh. I'd worn the thin jacket you'd complimented me on so I could seem very, "oh, this ole thing? I totally forgot you liked it!" Now I'll seem freezing.
You don't say much. Or anything, really. Am I being marched somewhere specific? Is this how I die? Will the headlines scream, "Dumbest Victim Ever: She Literally Followed Her Attacker for a Long While Because He Said He's a Singer-Songwriter"? Oh, God. I'm the worst.
I should say something. Charm you with words and things. "Um, what's your favorite band?"
Shit. Now you'll ask me. And whenever I'm asked about basic human interests, any memory of liking things escapes me and I stare like an alien fresh to Earth and stutter, "uh... I don't know... WHAT DO YOU LIKE...?" I mean... what if I have terrible taste? What if I say something that's basically Nickelback and that's mortifying because Nickelback is the actual devil? And you'll judge me forever and when I say I love music you'll roll your eyes and call me a loser who knows nothing and I'll say, "I'M SURE YOU'RE RIGHT BUT WHY" but it will be too late.
Maybe if I drill my eyes into the sidewalk enough you'll forget I--
"I love the Pixies."
Yes! I like them! I know them! Same thing. Look at me go!
For you, I'll be the tambourine shaker next to your kicking machine. It's an embarrassing role but one I'll do because I want to know what your laugh sounds like in the morning. I'll be whatever you want. Just love me.
I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to melt into my own sweatpants days. I wish I was the girl with a smile that could tether the moon, but I'm a wastebasket of broken promises.
For you, I'll offer the truth: I don't know how to be anything other than a blank sheet of paper. Craft me into something beautiful, boy. I'm here.
It's my 30th New Years Eve and I'm one with the couch at a party.
A stranger sneaks in to block my view of the TV, smiling like it's a secret he admires. He resembles the cover of a Ryan Adams album and I bet his local coffee shop is smudged with his fingerprints, the one whose vibe he uses to remix love into songs.
When he asks what I do, his voice is like a slow-drawn carriage through Central Park -- romantic in a way that doesn't quite fit anymore.
"I'm mostly a writer," I say.
"No way! I write some songs and stuff."
Nailed it. High five, self.
I tell him how I've always wished I could sing.
He rests his hand on mine. "I bet you're better than you think."
Oh, this sweet summer child. He doesn't know that I scream "sing" and that while I can sense I'm horrible, I can't hear how.
He doesn't know that I once selected "In Da Club" at karaoke, bragging how I knew all the words. I learned immediately that I knew almost none.
I don't care if he knows, so I unstick myself from the couch and grab another beer.
As midnight waves goodbye, I wake up to something -- here is a musical boy.
He's passionate and funny. He looks at me like I'm leaves changing to crisp reds and oranges before his eyes. He's everything I begged for 6 years ago. And I feel nothing at all.
I don't care if he thinks I'm cool. I don't care if he inks my presence into a song.
I don't care because I've already decided that I'm awesome. No one is the authority on that. I am.
Nowadays "cool" is just a one-syllable way of saying, "hi, I'm me." And who am I?
I'm a human who greets life with a fist-pumping, foot-stomping "yes, and."
I attend concerts with strangers because at the worst I'll earn a fabulous story. On the walk to meet up I show off my grace by tripping so hardcore that I glide through the air Superman style, draw a crowd, tear a hole in my new pants, and skin my knee. I then rise in slow motion like a swamp creature awoken from a nap and grunt, "DON'T REMEMBER THIS FACE" before scurrying away from the crime scene. And then when I stand in line with the stranger, I comment on the weather like I'm not rapidly bleeding to death. Casual stuff.
I'm insecure about talking too much. I'm insecure about talking too little.
I feel invincible when watching the sun set; when I stand on a bridge, I feel grounded. "Life Is a Highway" reminds me to hug tighter because it's the first song that strutted out of the radio when we steered away from our friends' funeral.
I adore thrillers and horror movies but 10 times out of 10 forget that the fear will continue after the credits roll, so I sleep with all the lights on. Who says monsters don't lick their lips for adults?
I'm afraid of growing old instead of growing up. Of losing my family. Of settling. I'm afraid a lot but I get out of bed anyway.
I see beauty everywhere, especially and always in people. Their tiniest movements are the loveliest, the things they probably don't notice. How she tucks her hair behind her ear and giggles when she's nervous. How he squints and rests his finger on his chin when he's thinking. You are a gift and I wish you could see just how exquisite you are.
I'm ditching the degrees and instead framing my favorite mistakes. They're my achievements for being alive. I'm imperfect and that's the only instance of perfect I care for. I'm more comfortable as me than I've ever been as anyone else.
I didn't notice I'd lost her until recently, so this is a goodbye to the girl in the song.
I'm more than a blank sheet of paper. I'm a notebook bursting with ideas, goals, and interests. That won't change no matter who enters my life. I'm all I need to be whole.
I've crafted myself into something beautiful. I'm here.