September 29th, I left at 5:30 am to drive to Dallas to visit my mom and see Florence + the Machine.
For those that don’t know, Florence is my favorite musician. As in, I love everything she does and can listen to her all the time.
This trip was going to be more than just a family visit and concert. This was my pilgrimage. I had seen her for the first time with the Boy for her How Big How Blue tour. This time I would be seeing her alone. I needed to be lonely in a crowd and that’s what I was going to do.
We were reaching in the dark
That summer in New York
And it was so far to fall
But it didn't hurt at all
I let it wash away, wash away
-The End of Love
The journey was not easy. I didn’t sleep hardly any, getting the dogs packed up was a nightmare, they constantly kept trying to climb into the front seat (they do that when stressed, try to be close to you), and then Almond vomitted 3 times and pooped in the car. She got motion sick. She’s gotten motion sick before, but never had problems so of course she chose when I was driving alone and emotionally wrecked and stressed. I pulled over once to readjust the giant kennel in the back so the dogs were more comfortable, again to try and sleep for 20 minutes since I was dozing on the road, and once again to handle the poop/vomit situation. I cried for most of the trip. I was overwhelmed and the car smelt awful and I just wanted to curl up and make the dogs feel better.
It was my first time handling both dogs on a trip alone and I felt like it was not going well but there was no alternative. This was life now.
I got to my mom’s around 11:30, tired and stress, having to unload a stinky, filthy giant 3ft by 4ft kennel in the rain, and trying not to break down in the garage. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to curl up somewhere and just be left alone.
But I let the dogs run around, got the kennel out, aired out the car, and kept going.
We had lunch and celebrated my brother’s birthday and I stressed about the dogs. A few hours later, I passed out on the couch after putting the dogs away and slept for a few minutes. 4pm rolls around. Time to get ready. Time to get the dogs ready. As you can see, they’re what keeps me going.
5pm my mom’s dog decides to slip under the fence while I’m watching Almond and Leon. I now feel like crap and have to search the neighborhood for it. We found him a few minutes later, but I am overwhelmed again and the humidity is sticking to my skin and I want to cry my makeup off.
It’s a 40 minute drive to Irving where the concert is. Dallas traffic stresses me out. I do breathing exercises in the car and try to navigate the concert traffic and parking garage. I brought a sweater which was a mistake. I never use it and it just gets in the way.
It’s controlled chaos and I feel awkward and unsure as I get into the concert hall. I didn’t know what time to show up since I was going to be in the pit for the first time. I’m early. I walk into the pit area which is mostly empty and stand there awkwardly before hearing the security guard tell some other people there’s more room on the other side. I somehow end up about front row, two frat looking guys and a big, broad cowboy in front. If I scoot, I can see the stage perfectly.
I stand there for an hour before the opener start. I stupidly don’t go buy water. I should have.
Kamasi Washington opens and the vibe is wonderful. I like his music, a kind of jazzy instrumental thing but everyone is having fun and it begins to calm me down. I cry during their song ‘Truth’ because the reason why I’m here hits me.
I’m letting go.
You were broken-hearted and the world was, too
And I was beginning to lose my grip
And I have always held it loosely
But this time I admit
I felt it really start to slip
Their set is really really great and everything already feels different than last concert. I’m surrounded, no sitting, and I feel uncomfortable but not. The sky starts to darken, pit fills in more, it’s getting crowded. Tall people are still in front of me. Frat boys are slightly obnoxious but they really love Florence so I have to give them that.
Her set up is beautiful, everything made of tan wood and it’s so very her. There are curtains flowing from the ceiling and tiny stars on the backdrop.
When Florence finally comes on, everyone cheers. She starts with “June” and from the moment she sings “The show was ending and I had started to crack,” I started to sob. I was filled with so much hurt and sadness it was over flowing and here I was. Here I was.
I needed to be empty so I could be filled up again. But this time with me, only me. It was time to let go.
I cried the whole concert. No one noticed. I sang and scream and cried. That’s what I was there for, that’s what music is for.
I fell in love with Florence when I heard Howl for the first time. When I listened to Lungs, it was what I needed at the time. A broken-hearted teenager with a big imagination who wanted songs about sacrifice and running through the woods and boys building coffins. I was older when Ceremonials came out and it was elegant and big and was like magic in the 20’s, flapper skirts and sequins and I needed that then while I was learning to be on my own for the first time.
High as Hope is meant for me now. It’s heartbreak and raw and a bleeding wound and apologies. It’s rediscovering yourself and starting anew, it’s loneliness and pain and figuring out what love is. I needed this now.
I drink too much coffee and I think of you often
In a city where reality has long been forgotten
Are you afraid? 'Cause I'm terrified
But you remind me that it's such a wonderful thing to love
I cried for everything. For myself, for 4 years, for a future that was no more, for Seattle dreams, for the Pumpkin House, for my animals, for him. I cried for the loss of things and the hardship that was to come. Nothing was going to be easy. It’s not easy starting over.
I’m terrified of the future. Terrified I won’t make it to Seattle. It wasn’t going to be easy before, now it’s close to impossible alone.
But I was also tired of being sad and afraid and lonely. I was tired of mourning.
I’ll be honest, ‘Dog Days are Over’ is not my favorite. It got played over every trailer, commercial, and everywhere for months. But it’s fun and I appreciate that. This time she did something different. She asked everyone to be vulnerable and put their phones away. And then she said that whatever hurt or sadness or heartbreak you feel that is weighing you down, let it go. That it was a safe place and there were no more phones. You can let go now. Jump until it’s all gone and let it go. Release it all.
It hit me really hard and I held myself and when it came time, it let it go. I thought of everything and jump and sang and every leap was weightlessness.
It was time to release.
'Cause I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart
'Cause I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn
-Shake it Out
Every song was a hit, a chip away at the grief. She sang my favorites (minus Howl because she doesn’t sing it anymore). I screamed the melody to South London Forever and danced during Delilah and looked at a crowd of phones during Cosmic love, lighting up the darkness like stars and remembering how I had argued to have it on our hypothetical wedding playlist.
She came into the crowd again during What Kind of Man and I felt every jerk of the beat, remembering how I loved this song but now it seems angry and accusatory and I relate in a way.
Confetti rained down on us and I remember a piece sticking to my cheeks, tears making an awful mess of my face. And when she came back for Big God, a song that I related to one of the worst weekends I’ve had to face in a long time, it felt fitting to end where the mess began. No more waiting, no more agony. It was time to move forward.
I was in a daze leaving. I grabbed more confetti to save, watched it twirl through my fingertips and move along the ground. I paused for a few seconds and realized they were playing “I will be” from Final Fantasy XV. I smiled and joined the crowd to leave.
I’m not completely empty, but I am getting there. There are crumbles left. You don’t just get rid of love, you just push it away into the back so you can live. But I need to be me again. Not desperate, grief filled me. I am bitter and hurt and angry at the world for being unfair, for the unbalance. I was in the dirt in life and got pushed even lower. And everyone else gets what they want. Life isn’t fair and love is…I don’t know. A gift but one that isn’t always enough. It’s fleeting and lasting and a knife and a balm. But you can’t rely on it.
I need to be strong again. Focus on what I love. Focus on the dogs and art and what I need to do to keep trying for my goals. It’s not going to be easy. I can’t just pick up and leave whenever I want. Finding a place to work, a place to live for me and 5 animals across the country isn’t easy at all. But I have to figure it out.
There’s a lot to figure out.
Healing will come with time. That word again, Time. But I am as empty as I can be and in time, I’ll start filling up again. And I’ll be better.
'Cause I'm gonna be free and I'm gonna be fine
Holding on for your call
'Cause I'm gonna be free and I'm gonna be fine
Maybe not tonight