Third year university. Summer. Taking a month long intensive with a French Clown. This was my world. It was a time in my life of great exploration, great change and great insight. It happens for everyone at different times, but my university years were charged with my growth – from shy, unconfident introvert to someone who gave less shits and found her voice. This growth was not easy, masked by crippling depression and fought through obsessively plucked hairs and fear. And I found myself in a class, dressed like Maxine the Crabby Lady, being constantly told by a squinty man with a grey beard that I was boring, all to the beat of his drum. Old me would have crumbled under the pressure. New me loved that someone was being fucking honest for once. I was boring. It took me a month of class, where everyday I was told to get off the stage. Except once. Except once when I wasn’t boring. And I was good. And that was all he said. Good, with a quick nod of his head and a look straight into my blossoming soul. Our French leader was world renowned, and people had come from all over to take this class. I had just moved into a new place and had a spare room and thus a billet. She was funny, smart and friggen beautiful. She made my insides swirl in a way that I wasn’t expecting. She was kind and she was talented. And only boring sometimes. The day she left I found a note on the kitchen table and a copy of Set Yourself On Fire. “I think you’ll like it,” she said. It became the cd that I listened to the most.
The thunder and the laughter/The last thing they remember/Good night, sleep light, stranger
I met someone else that summer. His was an easy and effortless love, fueled by a seemingly uncanny ability to be on the same page from the start. We shared everything, and my obsession with Stars soon became his. His friend moved to the other side of the planet so I planned a surprise scavenger hunt so he might feel better. It ended with us driving to a beach where it was discovered that the trunk was full of fireworks. We hiked down the little peninsula till we found the perfect spot to root our mischief and ourselves with real and imaginary fireworks raining down around us, and colours swirling and dancing. Before we knew it the cover of night was upon us and we were surrounded by the Atlantic’s water on all sides minus one little path. These were the days before cell phones had more skills than most PhD’s, and we were left with only our memory and our desire to escape. We held hands and took baby steps. I whimpered softly. We are going to fall in the water, we are going to fall in the water. “No we aren’t,” he insisted, grabbing a rock in the darkness and throwing it to prove a point. Splash. Dammit. My bones felt like lead. Fear had me convinced we would never reach the safety of the car parked next to the sand. But with everything in life, you are given the choice to overcome or succumb. We chose the first. We couldn’t believe it when we found the car, running our hands over it and staring at the license plate just to be sure. We sat in our new shelter and he turned the keys. We didn’t speak. He pressed play and Set Yourself On Fire led us home. We didn’t utter a word until we were safely home, tucked away from our adventure. And then we laughed and laughed.
From the house down the road from real love/Live through this and you won’t look back
Today. Right now. Here I am, still growing and learning and changing. I’m in my new city and with it experiencing new delights and new challenges. I went to a film festival last week. One of the biggest in the world. A friend met a cinematographer on a plane and struck up a conversation and he gave us tickets to a big media party that was happening. It was all very fancy. We dressed up, we drank the free booze, we ate from food trucks. There was a massage room, a hookah room, and a glow in the dark video games room. There was also a stage. Free entertainment for fancy people. Stars was the headliner. I was trying to be cool, trying not to fangirl out at the fact that one of the most memorable bands of my life just happened to be performing for the room. I went to the front. I stood inches from them. I sang along. I swayed. I noticed how they, too, were ten years older than when I first fell in love with them. They performed with energy and passion and it was infectious. Ageless beauty. They didn’t play a single song from Set Yourself On Fire. They have a new album coming out, they played a bunch from that and their two before. I didn’t care. It didn’t matter. What mattered was I was there. I survived. Their music has helped me through many rough times, allowing me to float on their melodies instead of sinking into my darkness. Every song on it resonates with me. As I watched their set, I found myself becoming overwhelmed with gratitude to them, for them. I made eye contact with Amy as she sang and pressed my hand into my heart, sending all my energy in a silent thank you. Without missing a note, she pressed her hand into her chest and held it out to me. Set yourself on fire.
One day I’ll be sand on a beach by the sea/The pages keep turning, I’ll mark off each day with a cross/And we’ll laugh about all that we’ve lost/Calendar Girl who is lost to the world/Stay alive