Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Confidential in Phoenix

It's sometimes difficult being the person to whom everyone confides. It's not that I don't want to listen to friends and family. It's more a matter of being inundated with feeling because once someone opens up to me, then I know too much.

One day late in 2015, as I drove home from work, Sara Bareilles' song "She Used to be Mine" came on the radio. Earlier that week, I'd had a conversation with a person I've known for a while. The conversation ran the gamut: from kids to spouses to jobs to fears to hopes and dreams. But as much good as came out of that conversation, I hung up feeling quite raw and exposed, without truly understanding why. In the car that day, as I sat and listened to Bareilles' lyrics, I understood.

I don't know if you've seen the movie Waitress or not. I enjoyed it, but it's been some time since it came out (2007, I think). Bareilles wrote "She Used to Be Mine" for the musical that comes out in April of this year. I've interspersed my thoughts that day with her lyrics, but my thoughts can't do justice to what Bareilles' has written. I've included a video at the end, so you can hear the actual song, in all its glory. Believe me when I say that you should listen to it.

It's not simple to say
That most days I don't recognize me

I remember the first time you posed such a comment to me,
in the midst of a hilarious phone conversation,
when all of a sudden,
what you had to say shifted.
Your words stuttered, stumbled, and stopped.
I remember then, how much I wanted to pull on the hand I couldn't see
to bring you back
into the present, to me.
Because, I didn't recognize you, either.
And that thought disheartened me.

That these shoes and this apron
That place and it's patrons
Have taken more than I gave them

Shoes and an apron to some,
scrubs and Crocs to others,
sandals and skirts to a third.
It doesn't matter
what or where or who,
sometimes all of us
(especially you, always you),
are taken in by other people,
and spit out by those same folks,
so that in the end,
everyone took more from you than was rightfully theirs.
Each day, in fact, a piece of you left,
looking longingly over your shoulder,
leaving nothing but a withering soul.

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

You're not who you used to be,
that's true.
And I remember that girl, too,
from years ago.
The happy-go-lucky young lass,
who ran through the fields
with flowers in  her hair
and hope in her eyes.
Long-limbed and fluid,
never the center but always there,
always present.
I want her back.
I want to know where she went, and why she's hiding,
and I want to know
what made her leave in the first place.

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

a trait we all know well,
but it has nothing to do with where you went.
You and I both know we're all
perfectly imperfect.
Comparing yourself to someone else does nothing,
concentrating on who you are,
who you want to be,
bathing yourself in love,
mostly self love, is the key.
And maybe it's time to remember
to ask for help.
Why not? I said to you.
Being broken doesn't mean we can't be fixed.

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

I argued with you that day,
so many words at the ready,
I envisioned you with a tear or two on your face,
painted between bright red splotches,
so lonely, so closed in.
Salty tears slipped down my own face, too
when I realized just how long you've been gone.
You used to be mine, I whispered.
And I have to ask you now, to query, to find out the answer if I can.
Where did you go and when will you be back?

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

Back doors can be tricky,
you said, so dicey.
I chuckled through the tears
that I blinked back and swallowed,
as if I feared that you could see the drops spill from my eyes
even though you were on the other end of a phone line.
But I believe that carvings
are not permanent
that you can change if you want to;
that you can go back to at least a little of what once was.
Bring the life that slipped in behind you,
through that backdoor, and learn from it.
Go find yourself and
carve yourself anew.

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

And isn't that the beauty of life?
even when we think it's over,
it's not.
We're given things we never dreamed or imagined,
things we didn't ask for nor that we ever wanted, but
As long as the flame still flickers,
it can grow stronger, taller, hotter,
and it can be the new lens through which we view ourselves.
Rewrite that ending, I said.
And if that ending doesn't suffice,
try another one.
I'll help you.

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

But what about my family? You asked me
and I wish I could have held you tight
within my arms that ached for you.
For thinking of yourself is maybe a little reckless,
but not much.
That flickering flame, still growing,
garners strength and reminds you,
once again,
to live.
I've seen you fight, dear one,
and it's a sight to behold.
I cannot wait to see it when it happens again.
Because when it does,
you will be mine again.

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  


T said...


Barbara Halabi said...

love this. thank you !

Anonymous said...

beautiful song, thanks for sharing

Christina said...

I still almost break down in tears when I hear this song. I think I should not listen to it anymore!