Closer to Fine
“I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you’ve ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life after all”
I don’t think I understood the enormity of what the Indigo Girls were saying when I first heard this song in high school decades ago. Perhaps if I had, I would have realized that I wasn’t so alone, that there were people who were dealing and coping and getting by.
Because in the end, it’s only life after all.
Amy and Emily from “The Indigo Girls” are without a doubt two of the most influential musicians in my life. While I always loved the Indigo Girls, it was in my mid twenties that I really turned to them. I had come out of a bad breakup and was a little worse for the wear. After begging my ex to take me back (he didn’t) and then telling him I hated him (I didn’t) and then drinking and crying to repeat this vicious cycle, I decided I needed to well…
Maybe find a hobby.
So I did what I knew. I put on my running shoes and I ran.
But it wasn’t enough and I just wasn’t having my “Forrest Gump” moment. I needed something else. Something other than the following options which I had exhausted and had done little for me:
- I had to stop calling my ex and calling him bad names while begging him to come back to me. I quickly realized that this was bad form. Not pathetic, exactly. More like, extremely pathetic.
- I had to stop going out to the bars in Arlington. This just lead to more bad calls and lots of snot and mascara on my face. Not pretty, exactly. More like, REALLY not pretty.
- I had to stop pounding the pavement. I was running over 50 miles a week. My knees hurt. Ouch.
And so I went to Fox’s music in Falls Church, VA and bought my first guitar.
And I started to learn how to play.
And I sucked. Like, I was not just bad.
I was just terrible.
But I went for it. And the nights where I wanted to “stop by a bar at 3 AM and seek solace in a bottle” I decided I would sit right down on my couch and teach myself my favorite Indigo Girls songs.
Closer to Fine. Romeo & Juliet. Kid Fears. Galileo. Nashville. Blood & Fire.
I cried. But I healed. And I got better. And I healed some more.
And I was so proud when I learned, that I dragged my guitar with me every where and performing one man talent shows (oh, you guys don’t do that?) for my family.
When that got old, I started going to open mikes, encouraged by one of my best friend’s, Sang. But that got old after a while too.
So I accosted a guy in a bar (It was more like 8 PM) named Kevin Sambat during one of his gigs and told him he needed to not sing alone. He would later become my good friend and bandmate, and we started singing in Northern VA and DC together.
And just think, none of this would have happened without the Indigo Girls.
Another big impact that they had on me – Amy and Emily being two of the coolest women in the world (whom I was (am) obviously non-sexually crushing on) made me realize that…
I. love. lesbians.
Yes, I love lesbians.
Not romantically, but as sisters. Listening to their emotionally charged songs and the power and conviction in them brought out a newfound appreciation for what my gay friends, who have had to deal with social exclusion because of their sexuality, were REALLY dealing with.
Emily and Amy made me realize that while I had felt alone a LOT in my life, maybe I hadn’t been there enough for my gay friends who couldn’t or hadn’t yet acknowledged this core part of who they were. And while I always cared about gay rights, maybe I care just a little bit more because of that awareness I think they awakened in me.
I learned a lot about life, love and self acceptance from the songs of the Indigo Girls. Some of my favorite memories with my group of adult best friends at their concerts, screaming and singing like my heart was on fire and my lungs were alive. No matter how many times I saw them perform.
Without these two women, I don’t know if I ever would have learned the power of my own voice. I guess I never thought anybody wanted to hear it.
And if I don’t value it, really why the hell would anyone else?
So yeah, the Indigo Girls helped me find my voice. How could I ever forget that and not acknowledge them here? Ok, I know they are not winning a Grammy – its just my blog. But still, writing this honors the part of me that will always respect these two women, who showed me some core truths I hope to always share with my daughter and son.
Embrace your individuality.
Even if its unpopular.
Even if its scary. Boo.
Even if you just want to retreat and safely be like everyone else. Which is absolutely fine. But not if its not who you are.
“I wrapped my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores.”
You don’t have to crawl. We can all stand tall.
And be one more step closer to fine.