you lose so many things you love as you grow: the firewatcher’s daughter

tumblr_nl4hvrKBCm1r7k0y6o1_1280(Witchoria, for purchase here)

I have had a fucked-up week, y’all. It is Friday but it feels like Groundhog Day, it feels like waking up over and over into a fog that never dissipates. I feel like it wouldn’t have taken me past Thursday to jump off a bridge (sorry, Bill Murray, I don’t have your stamina), but I didn’t. A lot of this is my brain and the way that it is, but a lot more of it is memory, of the good parts of my life flickering behind my eyelids like fireflies and I’m starting to worry that I won’t be able to catch them when I need them. I heard “Like A Rolling Stone” the other day, for the first time in years, and it hit me right in the heart, pierced me to the core and suddenly I was newly 18 again, sitting on the grass with rum-Slurpee-stained mouth and new sunglasses, head tipped back, laughing. I would say “before anyone hurt me,” but that isn’t true. What it really was is “before it started to stick,” I guess. I have this strange mixture of emotions in my body, Diet Coke and Mentos fizzing, leaking out my eyes, remembering spring breezes and shorts and the potential, the bright endless future, the potential of my life. And I know I am not not young now, I know this, but I was so unafraid then. I had a brief shining moment in the sun and even then I was scared, and sad, and I had no fucking idea what that really was, but something about Bob Dylan took my heart and squeezed it and set it free, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be old enough that that song won’t fuck me up, but it does. I hear that song and I feel my old self, the one who is on the other side of such a thin veil, so thin and still such an impenetrable thing. I am not one of those people who mourns their youth, except that I think maybe I am. I mourn parts of it; and I am sometimes afraid that they are better in memory, but that is all I have now. And even that is hazy, lens flare in every shot, a vague collage of sparklers and sneakers running and the river at night. This feeling is infrequent but when it comes it hits me like a train and it splits me open, the time that I have spent, the time that I no longer have. I am a hoarder, listen, not maybe in the clinical sense, but I have been known to anthropomorphize trash accidentally to the point that I can’t throw it away. I do this with inanimate objects; imagine what it is like with my life. Imagine how hard it is to let go of anything, even the things that hurt. I am not sure why I decided to listen to Brandi Carlile’s new album this week specifically, after hearing about it for awhile, but it makes me feel like I make sense. Like it is okay that I am afraid to lose these things; like she’s teaching me how to lose them anyway.

The hard times that I had
Really don’t seem all that bad
Yesterday is long ago and far away
And I’m beginning to feel the years
but I’m going to be ok as long as you’re beside me along the way
Going to make it through the night and into the morning light

There are things that I’ve said before
I don’t mean them anymore

Yesterday is long ago and far away
And I’m beginning to feel the years
but I’m going to be ok
as long as you’re beside me along the way
Going to make it through the night
and into the morning light
“Beginning to Feel the Years”

I’m beginning to feel the years, is I guess what I’m saying here. What Brandi gave me the words to say. I am not young anymore; or if I am, I don’t feel that way. I am heavy now, in my mind and my soul, and carrying that weight is something that I have grown into, and it’s not a bad thing. I have learned who to take with me, is the thing, the people who will be beside me along the way. A lot of this album is about friendship, or at least I’m interpreting it that way. You can go as far as you want as long as you have someone next to you, someone who knows the weight of your soul and will carry it if you need them to. There will always be new memories, and eventually I will struggle to catch them as I struggle now.

I think it’s time we found a way back home
You lose so many things you love as you grow

I miss the days when I was just a kid
My fear became my shadow, I swear it did

Wherever is your heart I call home
Wherever is your heart I call home

Though your feet may take you far from me, I know

Wherever is your heart I call home
“Wherever Is Your Heart”

This one particularly gets me, this week. I am always trying to find a way home, but my home is so many things, so many places. My home is everything I miss, it is place and time and people converging, it is nothing so simple as location; it never is. But then, listen, this is so important, you get this:

Even when you’re high, you can get low
Even with your friends you love, you’re still alone
We always find the darkest place to go

God forgive our minds, we were born to roam
“Wherever Is Your Heart”

In the same goddamn song! Brandi, can I live! We always find the darkest place to go; so often in my life, in the bright shining corridors of it, I find myself lurking in the corners and the shadows, counting my hurts like a string of beads. It’s where I am most vulnerable, and I put myself there more than I am willing to admit. God forgive my mind, but sometimes it feels good to probe the wound: Remember that? Remember when you were happy, remember? And the danger here is not remembering, god, of course it’s not. The danger is letting yourself believe that that was the only time, the best time. You always made me feel like I was falling; it hurts so bad to let go of your hand. Don’t let your memories hurt you, she says, unable to take her own advice. You always find the darkest place to go. God forgive my mind. God, forgive my mind, for its inability to let go of things, for its constant circles, its fixation on things that stab and bleed, its incessant tonguing at the bloody gap where something used to be. It hurts to let go but it hurts more to hold on, I think. That is what I am learning this week. I am learning to be happy in my happy memories, to appreciate them when they blow into my mind like dandelion seeds and to watch them go as they blow away again. I’ve been trying for so long to catch them, clutch them, pick them apart and make sure they are as bright and perfect as I remember them, but that never leads anywhere good. That never leads anywhere except back down into the darkness, and there is so much light in my life now. I’ve been closing my eyes against it, so that I can see the pictures behind my eyelids better, but I’m trying not to, anymore. I’m trying to be a sturdy soul; I’m trying to lie down in the bed I’ve made. Trying to fight the urge to run for another day – you might make it further if you learn to stay. I am only as old as I am, and I am not as young as I was, and some of the things that I felt then I will never feel again. But there is so much before me, such an endless road rising to meet me, and there are new fireflies to chase. And someday I will look back at myself as I am now, still drinking rum-Slurpees in the sun but only once a month, not twice a week, still worried but about different things, still hopeful and stupid and perfect, and I hope that by then I have learned to appreciate my past without letting it make me sad.

Anyway, this is a good album. There are strong points for sure, and some stuff in the middle is good-without-much-impact, but it was exactly what I needed this week and for that reason it will be one that I return to again and again. I am learning how to be strong for myself, when I am weak, and I think this album is helping. Hopefully you will feel that way too.

You’re blood muscle skin and bone
So people cause you pain
But when the skies are crashing down
And when my days are dark and grey
When my fires are burning low
When the life inside me fades
I know that I can count on you
Because you never let me lie
You bring the truth back to me now
You bring me back to life
“Blood Muscle Skin & Bone”

Aly

About Aly

aly was born in nashville but left before she could meet and befriend and ultimately wed taylor swift. now she lives in colorado, where she spends her time crying about bucky barnes, yelling about pop music and vampires, and writing young adult fiction.

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