I learned a lot in 2013.
How one you love the most above all else can cause you the most pain, can act the coldest. That he can be the weakest and most unworthy.
How those around you then come to your aid. And lift you back up.
And the realizations that come from that. Above all else, how the character of those who choose and desire to be around you is a direct reflection on your own character.
It took me a long time to realize it, but I guess I’m alright. Or, given those who are my friends – my truest, deepest, most beloved friends – I guess I must be some sort of amazing.
For most of the year, I thought I was enduring the worst Annus Horribilis of my existence. I felt worthless, disappointed, disgruntled. Homeless. Loveless. Undesirable.
I looked into pills. Into calling it a day at 35. Maybe I’d walk out into a forest somewhere in France or Bulgaria and just fall asleep and disappear. This decision didn’t bother me.
But it bothered those around me. Those who took me biking from Vienna to Budapest, one in particular. Those who held me up during the revolutionary riots in Istanbul, where we ran from tear gas and made our way to the square every day just to be there, to be counted amongst our Turkish friends. Those who gave me homes everywhere from Innsbruck to New York City, Vancouver to San Francisco. A librarian who wouldn’t stop asking the hard questions. A French professor who forced me to breathe deep, and held my shoulder on Parisian streets when it got too much. The first boys I met in Vienna and look at me with the softest eyes – the way one of them in particular even just says my name and makes me feel safe. The only black lesbian in all of Austria. The sweet family who calls me theirs in Scotland, overlooking the North Sea out the window, telling me to shut up when I talk down about myself. The choir I left behind who stood around me during the hardest performance of my entire musical “career”. Those whom I speak to on Viber and Skype often, still helping me practice my German, my otherwise worthless Austrian slang. My sweetest Burgenlandish Engel, who hates being called either sweet or an angel. Team Vancouver. Team Calgary. Team Scotland. Team Vienna. And of all places, Team Kitchener-Waterloo. Everyone rallied around and took me in and without any exaggeration saved my life. Thinking of them now, the keyboard is getting wet.
Then there was the driving – oh, the driving! Searching for an old America which for the most part no longer exists from Brooklyn to British Columbia. Then south to California. Then again from Vancouver to Halifax. And the music we listened to on the way. And the songs we sang along to, and laughed at (Dylan in both categories, mind). The way Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Silver Spring’ basically ripped my heart out and put it all into words, finally angry but moving forward.
The new kisses. Unfamiliar stubble on skin. Waxed moustaches and strong arms. Legs formed from 12 years of hockey practice. That fellow who walked right up to me at the dyke march in Manhattan and left me literally speechless – I simply couldn’t talk and nearly fainted. Realizing I was re-awakening. Saudi Arabian doctors and Brazilian musicians. Photographers and ship workers.
I made so little music in 2013. I didn’t want to document the shit. It was not fun. It is not worth remembering. I refused to pick up a guitar and carry any of those recent ghosts with me. There will be no songs on this. Too much of what I’ve made has to do with love that hasn’t worked, and this one doesn’t get that epic break-up anthem I guess I’m OK at writing. 2014 is square zero, and nothing’s going to sound like anyone’s expecting.
Frankly, I’m surprised that I’m still here. But I am.
In 2014, I will sing again.