I was playing guitar and singing backing vocals in an all-girl grungy pop-rock band in Warrensburg, Missouri, where we all attended college.
I never fit into the band.
The other three girls were smokers who liked junk food, staying up late drinking beer, and sleeping in.
I was a non-smoking natural early-riser who liked to run to the gym in the mornings, lift weights for an hour or so, and ate healthfully. I was so very not rock and roll.
One night, I let the girls talk me into coming with them to a local bar. This was before indoor cigarettes were banned, so the air was gross and my eyes were burning. I halfheartedly had a beer and left amid protests and playful mockery.
I felt like a loser for not wanting to hang with my band-mates, but smoky bars just weren’t my scene. And no matter how late I stay up, I wake at the crack of sparrow fart, so late nights mean painful mornings. I still do this. Naps are my friends. (Yes, naps, plural. I love every single one of those beautiful little bastards.)
I lived within a mile or so of the downtown area, so I walked home in the dark, alone. This was probably not the best idea, as despite being a 5’8″/5’9″/tallish girl I weighed about 110-115 at the time. I would have been easier to abduct then than I would be now. (Did I just find a bright side to gaining weight with age? Fuck YEAH, I did. Less abduct-able! You’re welcome, everybody.)
I was looking at the stars, like I do, and the moon was shining brightly enough to light the sidewalks. I wasn’t afraid for my personal safety, but I felt trepidation about the future. The band and I didn’t make it, and I think this was an early moment of clarity for me, realizing that our group wasn’t a personality or lifestyle match.
Bands are like having a relationship with all of the people in them, in case you’ve never experienced the phenomenon. It’s like asexually dating a group of people, and if there are personality conflicts, the whole group suffers. Very odd and potentially uncomfortable situation.
I liked the music we were making and was enjoying the creative outlet immensely, but all of the girls came from money and were being supported by their parents, and I’d been on my own since barely 17. We had very different worldviews and coping mechanisms. I didn’t understand their easy existences, and they didn’t understand my neuroses.
You grow into a very different person when you have no parachute to pull on should you suddenly fall down out of the sky.
I didn’t fit in. And you know, honestly–I never do–so this wasn’t surprising. But as I walked home, I looked up at the big, glowing moon and the galaxy of stars, and silently asked the universe (or my guardian angels or whatever I liked to pretend was watching over me at the time to feel less alone) what I was supposed to be doing. What should my next move be?
I wrote the song below in my head as I walked. Upon arriving home, I immediately scribbled down the words, and found the guitar chords via vocal melody line.
Later, my boyfriend, who was a talented recording engineer, was kind enough to immortalize it for me. I’m so grateful for this, still. Having your song recorded is like possessing an auditory snapshot from your life that will never disappear or fade away.
I like to share this song on New Year’s Day because it reminds me that I was once a hopeful 20-something with possibilities, and a seemingly endless future ahead. We don’t get to feel that way our entire lives–opportunities stolen or lost fill in the cracks, escape hatches close, and paths are taken that can’t be undone–so it’s a bittersweet remembrance.
But we have smaller versions of these large choices throughout our lives, regardless of age. It’s important to remember every year we still have futures, possibilities, and opportunities, and paths to walk, even if they don’t loom quite so long and uncertainly ahead of us anymore.
I hope your New Year is the best year you’ve ever had in your whole life.
Look at my confused-yet-optimistic 20s represented lyrically below, you guys. Awwww.
“I asked the moon tonight for the answers that the stars won’t give me. She said there’s nothing left that I don’t know that she could teach me. This one will be the best year I’ve ever had in my whole life. This one will be the best year, and if it’s not, at least I’ll know I tried. I tried. I know that I can answer my own questions if I only look inside. Sometimes I see the angels protecting me in the corner of my eye. This one will be the best year I’ve ever had in my whole life. This one will be the best year, and if it’s not, at least I’ll know I tried. I tried. So now I look up to the sky and everything is clear. It’s like the light from all the stars has burned away the fear. This one will be the best year I’ve ever had in my whole life. This one will be the best year, and if it’s not, at least I’ll know I tried. I tried. I tried.“