I haven't been very chatty lately on this puppy... so get ready, I'm about to puke up a whole backlog of thoughts! (Ew, sorry, that was gross)
Putting out an album is like birthing a child... then raising the child... and then sending that child off to college. Except the child is sort of eleven (in my case) little children smooshed into one. Eleven tracks, eleven little pieces of my soul - eleven *big* pieces of my soul... Eleven children out there in the world, being heard, judged, loved, hated, ignored, talked over, cried over, feared, buried, revered. Its scary and exciting and completely overwhelming.
Although, lets be honest here, I've never birthed a child, let alone raised one and sent 'em off to college. So you should probably just put a big MAYBE in front of that first paragraph. Or I could just check with my dad and see what he has to say about the matter. :)
My former bandmate wrote this when we released our studio album, Look Up nearly three years ago:
"I've always felt that music is a record of time; an audible representation of a period in someone's life that required notes for emotional expression."
I received a big box full of my CDs a couple weeks ago - they arrived earlier than expected, so it was a fun surprise for me. A very nice UPS man handed them over to me, and I would've run upstairs, but the box was rather heavy, so instead I walked carefully. I was so excited - I couldn't wait to see, to feel, to hold the final product. As soon as I made it up to my room, I speedily cut the tape with my keys and threw open the box. I pulled one album out, looked at it for a moment, put it quietly back in the box and walked out of the apartment.
Don't get me wrong, nothing was wrong with it - in fact, it was perfect... exactly what I had planned for.
And yet for some reason, I hated it. I absolutely hated it.
I walked immediately to my favorite local coffee shop, got myself giant cookie, and tried hard not to think about how much I hated it.
My amazing friend Caity showed up not too long after. I told her what had happened and how I was feeling, and she didn't seem surprised. She looked at me and softly said... "Well of course you hate it, Mally. Its a physical representation of the pain you've felt this year. You poured all that abstract grief and darkness into this project, and now its something concrete, something you can touch and hold. It would be weird if you didn't hate it a bit."
You so smaaaht, Caity!
When I heard her words, something softened. As soon as I was given permission to hate it, I didn't hate it quite as much.
The CD release party last Sunday night was pretty breathtaking. I'm still processing all the love and support I received that night. Having that many people I love in one room... Wow. Looking out at all of the faces in that room is something I will never forget.
And yet, even with all of that love coming my way - all of the good vibes, all of the support and encouragement - there were two pretty big puzzle pieces missing. My bandmates - The And Company. One bandmate was stuck at the airport in Philadelphia waiting for the snow storm to end, and the other was with his family in Asheville, North Carolina. One would've been there if she could've - stupid weather. The other maybe wanted to be there, but he wouldn't have come even if he could've - he knows heart wouldn't have been able to handle it.
I felt their absence on Sunday.
Now don't get me wrong - I love my songs. I love the musicians and artists who collaborated with me and I am extremely grateful for them. Words could never ever come close to expressing my gratitude. And I am very proud of how the project came out - it truly is a physical representation of this time in my life, and I consider that a really beautiful thing.
But I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am still learning "acquaintance with the invisible form of (my) departed."
I am really lucky to be have the friends I have. REALLY F*CKING LUCKY.
One friend of mine in particular, who suffered a great loss this year, is a real inspiration to me. She is living her loss and her grief with true beauty, honesty and grace. She is not afraid to be open to the world about where her heart is sitting. In my eyes, she's fearless. Earlier this week, she posted these words:
"Feeling alone under this blanket of love... interesting feeling... but thankful for the warmth."
I love that she admits to feeling alone even though she knows that she is surrounded by loving friends. That takes courage. I love that she doesn't immediately jump to feeling guilty for feeling alone, nor does she label it as negative. Instead she offers it up as something "interesting," something new to investigate. That takes strength. And I love that she speaks her gratitude amidst all the confusion. That takes heart.
So this week, I'm trying to emulate my friend.
I want to admit to the loneliness, yet peer through these new windows with curiosity and maybe even excitement. And I want to say thank you.