As a long time lover of playing the piano and someone who feels they can relate to every word she sings, this was the second time I have gone to see Fiona throughout the years – the first being with one of my very best friends, Noah, at Nokia Theater, Dallas, alongside Damien Rice and this time at Kingsbury Hall with Stark.
Fiona’s performance was riveting, as always. I had to fight tears during the first few songs for no other reason than her presence is instantly overwhelming. She vibrates a lethal combination of high anxiety and passion that can raise the blood pressure of almost anyone in the room. Any ability to relate to what she is saying just makes the experience that much more personalized. Fiona has something to say. I am going to let her speak for me… and the more she sang, the greater the sense of relief and the deeper I felt I
was getting as if I was taking advantage of some kind of self-visitation rights circa any time before now. Her performance made me miss myself more than anything. I felt guilty and grown up. I felt boring and responsible. I felt the need to go back, just for one night, to so many versions of my previous self like a romantic connection with the past.
Simply stated, she made me miss being insane. Insane looks good on her and it has been so long since I looked good. She had a sort of heroine chic look, contrary to her previous wide-eyed, baby-faced look of shattered innocence. She resembled a disheveled anorexia which made me think of a time, several times, of when I might have looked like her in one way or another.
So I decided to do a comparison – year by year. I wanted to take a look at her life and her ability to understand her place in this world versus my own. Fiona has admitted that her first two albums were a sort of testimony to the dark times she had been through. She wanted to reach out. She wanted to help someone and relate… I relate. Yet the more she reached, the more she fell short until she became more and more reclusive and misunderstood. People closest to her judged her harshly and gave unsolicited advice without ever attempting to join her or see from her perspective; to feel what it feels like to be her in any given moment. The more she tried to exclaim what she had been through, the more people wanted to take advantage of her – break her heart and be everything she needed, all in the same motion. The thing about being needed is that it is the very basis of a let down.
So as I watched I wondered just how long it took her to get to this healthier place while I thought about my own journey at similar ages to what she has been through. I listened to the lyrics and thought about the time’s in my life I felt that way, similar ages. I watched her move about the stage, like a nervous skeleton, and I remembered a time when I felt like I had lost everything including 40 pounds I didn’t have. There’s something about looking so gaunt and a little bit sick that makes the body seem child-like and the face seem worn by only a short amount of time. I know. I know exactly how that sickness feels and how that inexplicable emotion feeds while trying to form a more simplified answer to, “What now?”
So here’s a comparison of age, a comparison of time and a small indication of relatable factors:
For Fiona, Sleep to Dream – “I tell you how I feel but you don’t care. I say tell me the truth but you don’t dare. You say love is a hell you cannot bare. I say give me mine back and then go there for all I care.”
For Me, Number 16 – “I used to rise above, now I deceive. I used to wince at blood and now I just bleed. Gone out, be right back, I’m finding where I’ve gone…”
For Fiona, Sullen Girl – “Days like this I don’t know what to do with myself, all day and all night. I wander the halls along the walls and under my breath I say to myself, I need fuel to take flight. And there’s too much going on but it’s calm under the waves in the blue of my oblivion. Is that why they call me a sullen girl? They don’t know I used to sail the deep and tranquil sea but he washed me ashore and he took my pearl, left an empty shell of me.”
For me, “A dozen roses and a thousand apologies, I hope to see you soon. Again, forever never seemed long enough for you. So long to you, so long to you, it takes too long to get back to… you don’t stop crying until you’ve moved on. I haven’t shed a tear in so long. So long to you, so long to you…”
For Fiona, Shadowboxer – “Once my lover now my friend what a cruel thing to pretend what a cunning way to condescend once my lover and now my friend…”
For Me, Nothing New – “I’m sick of your honesty. Don’t tell me you’re leaving me. I know too much already to be gone. It’s not as though you were ever here. I’m already used to missing you. It’s nothing new…”
For Fiona, The Child is Gone – “Darling give me your absence tonight take the shades from the canvas and leave me the white let me sink in the silence that echoes inside and don’t bother leaving the light on. ‘Cause I suddenly feel like a different person from the roots of my soul comes a gentle coercion, and I ran my hand over a strange inversion; a vacancy that just did not belong. The child is gone.”
For Me, Angelina 283 – “The directions say it’s positive and they congratulate me. I can’t let this happen to save you from being just like me. I’m so alone here. It’s so damn cold here. I have no home here. I’m sick of leaving you. Please know I saved you. They say I killed you. I gave you a better chance; you’ll never have to know me or wonder who I am. Surrounded by my blood I’ll remain and bleed – it’s part of losing you and most of finding me. You just close your eyes now forget – don’t’ be reminded how…”
For Fiona, A Mistake – “I’m gonna make a mistake. I’m gonna do it on purpose. I’m gonna waste my time… I look back and the fact is I had fun, fumbling around. All the advice I shunned and I ran where they told me not to run, but I sure had fun, so I’m gonna f***k it up again. I’m gonna do another detour. Unpave my path and if you wanna make sense, what you looking at me for?”
For Me, Hello – “Hello. I have gone to a better place. Leave a message if it’s not too late. Tell me you love me, this could be the last time. I feel like it’s better to leave this behind. I’ve gone to a better place, there’s no one home tonight. It seems like leaving is better than a fight. Leave a message, if it’s not too late.”
For Fiona, The Way Things Are – “I wouldn’t know what to do with another chance if you gave it to me. I couldn’t take the embrace of a real romance, it’d race right through me. I’m much better off the way things are…”
For Me, A Near Life Experience – “Insomnia sets in. The abandoned hallways echo her muffled, blood-curdling screams. She didn’t know you. She didn’t know where she was. You never told her you loved her after that argument, before she went to bed and now she’ll never know. You’re not thinking of then though, you’re remembering your 17th birthday party – sitting at the edge of the wet porch dinette, thinking of your mother while you’re being dumped by that “great guy” you had told her about on the way home. You’re all dried up. No more tears… It scares you now to recall the months afterward. It’s all a purple haze smoked by the people who too easily say “I love you.” You scrubbed floors to be an exception and drove drunks to seem loyal. You spent Daddy’s money to feed the homeless – evicted by their debt to drug addictions and all they gave you in return was the chance to find your clothing in the dark, unfamiliar bedroom while they spit and cussed about how “fucking impossible” you are…”
For Fiona, Never is a Promise – “You’ll never live this life that I live. I’ll never live the life that wakes me in the night. You’ll never hear the message I give. You’ll say it looks as though I might give up this fight… you’ll say you understand, you’ll never understand. I’ll say I’ll never wake up knowing how or why…you’ll say I’ve got to believe in. I won’t’ know who I am. You’ll say I need appeasing when I start to cry. But never is a promise and I never needed lies.”
For me, May 20 – “I want to ask him, ‘What is it that I do to make you go back?’ Every time he spends a moment with me, he instantly retracts depiste all feeling, all purpose, and our undeniable happiness together. I feel as though it is a sense of rejection. I feel guilty as though being with me only makes him miss his family more. And for that, I feel like I will never be what he is looking for. I realize that my presence is the very glue that is holding him together, giving him the energy time and time again to try for something that has never been and likely never will be what he needs and what I know he deserve. He says he’ll never give up, that he’ll settle for the simple things even if it is a life without love…”
For Fiona, Love Ridden – “Nobody sees when you are lying in your bed and I wanna crawl in with you but I cry instead. I want your warmth but it will only make me colder when it’s over, so I can’t tonight baby. No not “baby” anymore, if I need you I’ll just use your simple name. Only kisses on the cheek from now on and in a little while we’ll only have to wave.”
For Me, May 14 – “I cowered over the bottom drawer of my bathroom cabinets, wiping away the dust and the hair while looking for the morning after pill. Three years old and somehow as good as new. Unopened. I thought, having kept such a thing ’til its expiration date was somehow honorable. But as I took the first dose and he walked from our bedroom to the kitchen, I felt guilty. I felt strangely uninvited in my own life as I contemplated the chance of having a family with him, the family we always spoke of. But the reality of not here, not now weighed thick… his absence breeds more than simple loneliness as I started to feel more overwhelmed than usual. Depressed. Still, there was hope. There was my future.”
For Fiona, Paper Bag – “I went crazy again today, looking for a strand to climb and looking for a little hope. Baby said he couldn’t’ stay, wouldn’t put his lips to mine, and a fail to kiss is a fail to cope. I said ‘honey I don’t feel so good, don’t feel justified. Come on put a little love her win my void,’ he said ‘it’s all in your head,’ and I said, ‘so’s everything’ but he didn’t get it. I thought he was a man but he was just a little boy…”
For Me, 2010 – “All that was dark or evil existed in our relationship or the fact that our relationship didn’t even truly exist. At any moment he could get up and walk away from me and I could run to anyone screaming “He left me, He left me!” crying and broken hearted and no one would have any idea that I ever had anything to lose in the first place.”
For Fiona, I Know – “So be it I’m your crowbar, if that’s what I am so far until you get out of this mess and I will pretend that I don’t know of your sins until you are ready to confess but all the time, all the time I’ll know… By my own suggestion, I will ask no questions while I do my thing in the background. But all the time, I’ll know. Baby, I can’t help you out while she’s still around…And if it gets too late for me to wait, to find you love me and tell me so. It’s ok. Don’t need to say it…”
For me, 2008 “The last words of his reply were unexpected, ‘I want to see you before you leave.’ The words struck me. If I thought I was confused before, now I was completely lost. I never imagined having a chance to see him again… Kneeling by the trees, I called my fiancé. Five times. My call was answered each time and… nothing. Finally, I texted, ‘Michael was murdered this morning. Shot. I don’t want to talk about it.’ Back at my desk, I had already emailed him – telling him I was leaving at 5:00 if he wanted to meet me…. By now we had walked to my car and insisted on saying goodbye half a dozen times. I truly expected him to leave me at my car and walk away, easily. He didn’t. Like so many nights before, we hugged for hours. The moment was miserable. He wasn’t lying to me, but he wasn’t being honest at all – not with himself and not for me.”
For Fiona, Extraordinary Machine – “I’m good at being uncomfortable so I can’t stop changing all the time… if there was a better way to go then it would find me. I can’t help it the road just rolls out behind me. Be kind to me, or treat me mean. I’ll make the most of it I’m an extraordinary machine. I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day. You deem me due to clean my view and be at peace and lay. I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way and say, I’ve been getting along for long before you came into the play. I am the baby of the family, it happens, so? Everybody cares and wears the sheep’s clothes while they chaperone. Curious, you look down your nose at me while you appease courteous to try and help, but let me set your mind at ease.”
For Me, The Tower – “It is as if in that first moment of focused light there is a faceless entity welcoming me with a hand and a soft voice reminding me at each waking moment, ‘It is time now.’ The time in our lives when we choose to heal is not always an obvious choice and not always a choice where we can stop ourselves… This is my path and mine alone…”
For Fiona, Not About Love – “I’d like to choose right – take all the things that I’ve said that he stole put em in a sack, swing em over my shoulder, turn on my heels, step out of this sight, try to live in a lovelier light. This is not about love. ‘Cause I am not in love. In fact I can’t stop falling out…”
For Me, He Loves Me Not – “Caz,” he looked away, holding me by the cheeks before looking back at me with complete sense of nervousness and hope, “I love you girl.”
For Fiona, Left Alone – “Oh when I try to love I can save the same man, in the same bed, in the same city, but not in the same room it’s a pity, but oh, it never bothered me before not ’til this guy, what a guy, oh God what a good guy and I can’t even enjoy him. How can I ask anyone to love me when all I do is beg to be left?”
For Me, Capable of Love – “I focused on the question over and over again, feeling both overwhelmed and weekend by the very thought of it as I then realized the connection between my question and my intention – to be lovable, I have to be capable…”
Although to some it may not be so obvious, things have certainly progressed for the better. The words may seem just as daunting, but hope’s have become a reality to be had. Just as Fiona might have done for herself, my changes were not just moments but monumental, to me. With that, the way I changed was almost overnight and enough to deserve me the hopes and dreams that I currently have.
And on that note, I find an odd mix of desire after this research of comparative literature and photographic expression. On one hand, I have the strong desire to get back to writing and to take my book more seriously and begin to tell a real story with dedication, with purpose. On the other hand, I feel like I can never quite explain it; that there are too many lost moments due to silent eras and best kept secrets. I feel like I could never recreate the pain or the progress and that is precisely why I continue to dabble in other’s ability to tell their own story, no matter what they have to lose.