I woke up, changed my clothes, and started my 40 minute commute (thanks, traffic) from Studio City to West Hollywood. I went to bed last night telling myself to “just breathe” and woke up with Anna Nalick’s “Breathe (2 am)” stuck in my head. I hooked up my iphone’s bluetooth and played the song in my car. On repeat. For forty minutes.
“No one can find the rewind button, girl,” she sang as I glanced at the once blooming and colorful foliage of Laurel Canyon now looking soggy and droopy from last night’s downpour. I contemplated how I used to confidently correct people on the punctuation, informing other eleven year olds she was addressing particular people in that song. Instead of having the comma between button and girl or boy, I thought said comma didn’t exist. I told my friends it was “rewind button girl” and “rewind button boy”. I believed these rewind button people could close their eyes and project themselves into the past, like magic. I laughed, recollecting that passionate fallacy I once possessed regarding the punctuation of a music stanza. I’d like to believe I’m a little wiser than I was in 2004, but I could be wrong.
Thoughts blossomed throughout my previously quiet mind. The next thing I knew, the car stopped. Okay, that was dramatic, the car was already stopped (thanks again, traffic). I considered that I was onto something back then. “Rewind button girl,” I thought. “Why did I think there was no comma? Did I want to be one all those years ago, too? Or solely now?”
Rewind Button Girl goes back and tells her parents the first time her younger brother mentioned suicide, breaking his trust but ensuring his future. Rewind Button Girl comes home from college on weekends she’s not doing anything to visit him and the rest of her family. Rewind Button Girl takes him somewhere special on his sixteenth birthday instead of skipping it to party with her friends. Rewind Button Girl magically returns to fix the mistakes.
Rewind Button Girl isn’t afraid to talk to her older sister after their brother’s death. Rewind Button Girl takes her out for a drink to help numb the pain. Rewind Button Girl doesn’t run away from the unknown, and treats her sister like...a sister. Rewind Button Girl ignores her parents wishes and drives two and a half hours to see her sister in the hospital before she dies.
Rewind Button Girl rewinds to her last relationship and makes her slow down. Rewind Button Girl takes away any of her actions that ever caused any pain. Rewind Button Girl doesn’t makeout with guys with girlfriends. Rewind Button Girl goes to therapy sooner. Rewind Button Girl knows exactly what to say and when to say it. Rewind Button Girl isn’t a prick to her family when all she needs is a long hug from someone who cares. If I were a rewind button girl, I could breathe. Just breathe.
Breathe. I forget how to breathe. Crown me The Queen of Reflection, constantly wishing I was one of those rewind button girls. I learn from my mistakes, but I wish was smart enough to not make them in the first place. That’s why I’m never relaxed. I’m always on the go, working like the madwoman I am and chiseling down my never-ending to do list. Rewind Button Girl is chill. I am not, nor do I have any “chill.” I go full force into everything I know: my career, my friendships, my relationships, events, social media, my writing, my music, every little thing I love. I’m a train going at full speed yet running on empty. Rewind Button Girl stops to refuel every now and then.
Anna Nalick’s “Breathe (2 am)” haunted me for a month, playing at the airport, on the radio, at work, Target, The Grove. Each time I heard the strum of the first chord, an irritating question sprang into my head. Over and over again, I rolled my eyes and dismissed it. Today as I’m off to work, driving along the traffic-jammed Laurel Canyon, that song plays once again. I look out the window and notice the plants along the road starting to bloom. Traffic lightens up. I breathe and let the question I ignored for seemingly so long take over me. “How do I become a person who doesn’t feel the perpetual need to be a rewind button girl?”
Then it hits me. I don’t.
Wanting to be a rewind button girl taught me that I shouldn’t need one. I will never be able to live my life without wishing I was a rewind button girl if I can’t let go of my regrets. No longer can I live like that, attempting to fill the empty void with solutions for problems I can never fix. The traffic is vastly out of my control, so there is no need to be bothered by it. Furthermore, I might as well admire the plants. You know what helps? Remembering to breathe. Just breathe.
Jackie Webb has been one of our guest stars for a number of It's Personal shows. She is joining us again for our 2nd show of the year, Gross. We hope you liked her piece about Letting Go.
No poems this time. This is me talking strictly to you, so buckle up.
A dear friend of mine recently told me, “you have a memory like an elephant. It means your memory is really sharp. Elephants don’t forget anything.” She couldn’t be any more right. As a matter of fact, you could say I live as elephants do: constantly carrying a trunk wherever I go. Forgive the pun but hear me out.
If I had to measure when I started my journey, when I began to: form concrete memories and critical thought of the world, first grade would do it. That would place it to almost 25 years ago. I was around five/six years old, trying to make sense with what little I understood at the time. I mean I was too young to understand how to understand, so whatever experience came my way, whether a success or a mistake, I was given an automatic pass.
I can remember growing up, sheltered yet willing to open myself to others. I remember sharing my favorite toys, my favorites games, words, food, shows, and anything else kids loved to talk about at that age. The one thing that I learned quickly, and unfortunately then, is how children, by no fault of their own, are completely unfiltered, real, Freudian Id personified. Whatever came to their minds, they just spoke it out, whether it’s cute, crude or hurtful. Now, I realize the argument on how children are far too young to realize what they say or do could potentially affect each other. Naturally, bullied children would face the brunt of this commonality society has to deemed to be “kids being kids”. However, I am a true believer in which whatever happens in the process of growing up, can have potential lasting impacts onto adulthood either positively or negatively; but that discussion is for another time. I just know what I’ve been through. Scars never fade away.
It was at that time until maybe, the tail end of college where I closed myself off from others. I never truly got along with people my age. Teachers and adults in general, were the ones I stood close with because teachers would never harass you about your weight, or leave you to have lunches by yourself at the bench tables. Sure, I had some friends I could talk with but it few and far between. I learned quickly about betrayal, deceit, aggression, cliques, isolation, mob-rule and I didn’t even hit middle school yet. Those building blocks I would carry in my truck as I slowly matured. Think of it this way: if kids were the hares of growing up, I was the tortoise; I would get there eventually but I would always be late to the party.
As I’m about close to turning thirty years old, I realize now that some things are beyond my control. Till now, I’ve always had one foot in the past and one foot into the future, yet I never stepped into the present. I never truly enjoyed what I had in front of me. I just couldn’t let go. Letting go meant leaving the trunk behind. The large, black heavy trunk I’ve carried well past its prime. Whenever I felt sad, angry, disappointed, they would go right into the trunk. You see I always make it a point to never forget anything. There are people I knew, and even people I know now, hopefully reading this, where if they bring happiness to me, or if I’m slighted negatively, I would carry that with me, into the trunk. It could’ve happened ten years ago or ten days ago, each instance is catalogued. I believe it’s a somewhat petty coping defense mechanism.
I realize now that I have to leave the trunk behind. I have to let go of that part of myself. As clichés as it might sound, I truly know now who I am, what I can give, and what I want in a life. I know now not to waste my energy on things and people that don’t bring me joy, or aren’t there for me. I know whom I care for, and whom I can leave behind because that’s life. Life moves on, and I can’t take everyone with me, including my former self, still sitting at that bench having lunch by himself; that boy, I can safely say as he turns thirty soon, knows how to enjoy his own company. He doesn’t need others to define who he is, what he should be doing, or what his choices are. He can survive with people, and without people. A fortress on a lone island: welcomes visitors but can manage on it’s own. A fortress guarded by the most fearsome, dangerous yet kind, lovable elephants in the world.
Andy Quintana is here again in a slightly different style. We hope you enjoyed his piece!
“Take a long shower, Em. It’ll help.”
The water was hot. I had heard it’s not good for your skin, but I needed it that way. I needed it.
Leaning my head back, I felt the heat moving through my hair and down my shoulders, running over my face, my eyes, lips. My body was made of stone, and not even water could smooth me. I put my hands on my face and held them there. It stung. I breathed.
I used to dream of feeling this way. It was nicer in the dream. Then, I’d imagine myself floating into space, weightless. My arms and legs spread out, my chest lifting my body up, out of itself. I didn’t know if that was possible now, once I’d turned to stone. I tried. I tried to float out of the tub, through the ceiling, into the clouds.
The room was empty when I got out of the shower. It felt weird and different. Weird, like when someone is with you one day and the next, they're not. Different, like something you have to get used to. I unwrapped my towel and looked at myself in the mirror. My skin was red from the heat. I looked at my face, my stomach, my knees. There was a small bruise on my right thigh that was unaccounted for. It was the same height as my nightstand. Bodies look different when you stare at them. I lifted my toes up and pressed them into the ground.
I'm not sure when it was that I'd abandoned everything I cared about. They say that by letting go, you will end up finding yourself in the process.
Over the next 6 months, I reacquainted myself with everything that mattered to me. I used to play piano; I don’t know why I stopped. After a while, I moved my fingers over the piano keys again, remembering what they felt like, relearning how to touch them. I’d forgotten the songs I used to play, but I knew it would be different this time. It sounded different. Gradually, my fingers started to move, skipping over the octaves, building a melody. It was mine.
We hope you enjoyed Emily's piece about letting go.
Deep in the recesses of my sock basket lies a pair of well-worn, well-made men’s gold-toe socks. They have lived with me for over three years and in more than three apartments. I almost never wear them, save times of extreme laundry crisis. Or the rare episode of an early morning freezing floor. But, if Marie Kondo were to blast through my wall like a petite Kool-Aid man and politely hold the socks up in front of my face, I would have to say, “No, Marie. They do not spark joy.” Then why haven’t I let them go?
They did belong to a guy I dated in college, a guy that I once loved. Our love ended. The socks endured.
I hadn’t thought much of what holding on to them might mean until now. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m in denial. Maybe there are pieces of my college relationship woven into the fibers of those socks. Maybe that’s why they’ve stayed in my basket for so long. A token to love lost.
I open my closet and rip through my basket, flinging socks about, none of them paired. Of course not. Chaos is a sock drawer. These ones are easy to find, though, because they are rolled together. Rolled together because I never wear them. I hold them for a while, pressing the fabric between my fingers. That stupid gold-toe. It’s funny to me that not even socks are immune to fashion trends.
I wait for that Marie Kondo spark. I wait for the fire of the past to burn strong enough for me to feel its warmth again. I hold the socks and prepare to remember. To remember a time when I didn’t think I could walk without the feet that filled these socks beside me. See memories of a girl who could not make one step forward had he not made it first. The silhouette of my longest love. The echo of my biggest heartbreak.
But nothing comes. No such fire burns.
So I put them on. My feet drown in them, the gold toe not reaching my own, the ankles pulling up to an unflattering length. 100% Certified Dad Socks. I peel them off, roll them back up, and return them into my chaos basket.
Nothing sparked in me. No joy. No sentiment. No romance, anger, hurt, heartache. They really, truly mean nothing at all. They’re just socks I haven’t bothered to get rid of.
Letting go is a funny little thing. I don’t know that I believe in it. If I did, these socks would probably mean more to me. Because if I just let my relationship go, I would never have really moved on. I simply would have allowed it to move beyond me. Loosen my grasp on it and set it free. A passive act. But that’s not what I did. The socks are not that relationship because I didn’t just let go of that love. I ran the fuck beyond it. I cried, wrote, quit drinking for good, worked hard, spoke sweeter, laughed harder, mastered being alone. Don’t loosen your grasp on what needs to change. Tighten your grip on your own life and never let go.
My life is in my hands now. And sometimes, too, is a pair of my ex-boyfriend’s socks.
Anna Snedden is one of our guest performers, and we are in love with her writing style. We hope you all enjoy her work as much as we do! Thanks Anna!