Feed on

You know that old Roberta Flack song, “Killing Me Softly”? She talks about watching a man sing, and hearing a song that speaks to her soul. She hears all her secrets laid bare in the song, but he doesn’t seem to notice she’s there.

At this year’s Tony awards, Sara Bareilles played a song that described me. I don’t know how. We’ve never met. But she started to sing “She Used to Be Mine” and I couldn’t stop thinking, how did she know?

This is my own mind game, I realize. Most of us have one – a song, a poem, a book or a movie or a play that opens its arms to us and says, “Welcome home. I’ve been waiting for you.” That recognition causes a vibration in your bones that can at once be comforting and incredibly painful. Comforting, because it’s good to know the universe recognizes and affirms your existence. Painful, because the universe sometimes knows more about us than we even wanted to admit to ourselves.

It’s not simple to say
That most days I don’t recognize me
That these shoes and this apron
That place and its patrons
Have taken more than I gave them
It’s not easy to know
I’m not anything like I used to be
Although it’s true
I was never attention’s sweet center
I still remember that girl

She’s imperfect but she tries
She is good but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won’t ask for help
She is messy but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up
And baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone but she used to be mine

It’s not what I asked for
Sometimes life just slips in through a back door
And carves out a person
And makes you believe it’s all true
And now I’ve got you
And you’re not what I asked for
If I’m honest I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over
And rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew

Who’ll be reckless just enough
Who’ll get hurt but
Who learns how to toughen up when she’s bruised
And gets used by a man who can’t love
And then she’ll get stuck and be scared
Of the life that’s inside her
Growing stronger each day
‘Til it finally reminds her
To fight just a little
To bring back the fire in her eyes
That’s been gone but it used to be mine

Used to be mine
She is messy but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone but she used to be mine

Why, you may wonder, does this feel like a mind game? Because the woman being described in this song is nothing like me. Ms. Bareilles wrote the song for the musical Waitress, and it describes a restaurant server living in a small town, in a miserable marriage and pregnant by accident. The actress who plays this character on Broadway right now is a Caucasian woman. That’s pretty much where the similarities to me end. I haven’t worked in a restaurant in any capacity. I’m not now nor have I ever been pregnant. I live in the second largest metropolis in the country. I should have nothing in common with this character.

This, however, is the beauty, the magnificence, of art. It lives in details, it thrives on minutiae, but at the same time, it doesn’t care what’s on the surface. Art hits your gut, and lets you know that way down deep, you and the woman serving up pies in a place you’ve never heard of share everything that’s really important.

She’s imperfect but she tries
– so hard, even though it so seldom seems to matter
She is good but she lies
– “oh, don’t worry, I’m okay, I’m fine…”
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won’t ask for help
She is messy but she’s kind
– the mess is always there, doesn’t matter how much I scrub the surface
She is lonely most of the time
more than I want to say
She is all of this mixed up
And baked in a beautiful pie
– all mixed up so that it’s hard to tell sometimes, and I really do love pie
She is gone but she used to be mine

The “gone” part…that really hit home. Sometimes when the depression takes hold, I lose sight of that perfect mess that is me. I get caught in the spiral of not good enough not pretty enough not anything enough not worthy and once I’ve jumped off that cliff it’s hard to find the ripcord that will open up any kind of parachute because I’m not worth saving so what does it matter? For whatever reason, though, life wants to endure, even when it has to fight through a crapstorm that makes a hurricane look like a mildly cloudy day. The spark that lies inside, even if it isn’t a physically evolving life, is still a life, my life, and when I least expect it, or maybe when I’m just too tired to argue, it fights back. It convinces me that no matter how much debris rests on my heart, it can still function. With a little bit of rest and that mustard seed of faith that some guy in the desert talked about once, I find my way back, and things seem possible again.

This weekend was my birthday. Normally, I get kind of sad around my birthday, looking over the time I’ll never get back. This past year, though – 46 stank on so many levels, I was completely thrilled to see it go. Bring on 47. Sometimes I think the only thing I gained this year was that damned 10 pounds that I can’t seem to lose no matter how hard I try. A new start can only be a good thing.

That bit of life inside…it’s still there. In all of us. Something about it is bigger than we are, and Sara Bareilles has a point: whether that life is physical or metaphorical, it can be a little scary. It can also be amazing. It will do everything it can to survive, even when it has to fight with you to do it, because as Jeff Goldblum said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.”

Kimberly knows she isn’t alone in this fight, and to everyone dealing with their own crapstorm right now, she offers an emotional umbrella.

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: