“When you gonna love you as much as I do?” Winter, Tori Amos.
Sitting in my room and listening to Tori Amos makes me reflect on 13-year-old me that discovered her. Her video being featured on late night MuchMusic may have changed my life.
Through my tough teenage years I fled to my room. I filled it with things that I loved, including a ton of books and a bottom dresser drawer full of music magazines. Details, Rolling Stone, Spin and Jane were my favorites. I stopped reading Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and the like when I read in Cosmo that “your feet can repulse people” and made me feel paranoid about hangnails and dry skin. Previously, it had been the only part of my body I hadn’t criticized and now that too was under attack. So no more. Instead I read about Tori Amos, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, Hole, No Doubt, Bush…
I would spend hours sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of my stereo, a cd blasting and magazines spread out before me. I’d pick one out, rest it on my chubby adolescent thighs, lean over and pour over every word. I especially loved the stories of a rock star’s childhood. I began to also follow fashion and poured over Vanity Fair, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. I loved the artistry and critical eye it took to make the clothing and I fell in to love with the designers, since most of them had been bullied or ostracized like me. I loved hearing that these talented, brilliant, poised people had once been chubby, zitty, awkward adolescents. That made them real to me and as I read the words I would think, “Me too! I am just like you used to be!!”
My room became my sanctuary from the rude whispers, pointing fingers and constant harassment from my schoolmates. The stereo became my church. Tori Amos became a constant musical companion. I felt my parents didn’t understand me and telling them what I went through at school only made the distance between our understandings seem further apart. Tori Amos wrote what I was feeling, even though she is older than I am and I would never meet her. She wrote of despair, that there was hope after despair and of true feelings. Her album “Little Earthquakes” still resonates with me, every single song has a memory of me overcoming some emotion that was crushing me; listening to the songs setting me free. Here was someone who understood how alone I felt and how mean I could be to myself.
Winter is such a great song, bringing me back to my center.
As I listen to the lyrics, I remember being in my room at 13 years old. My butterflies on my dresser mirror, magazine images pasted to the wall, collages everywhere. A drawer full of magazines, people’s stories of overcoming adversity inside, and a headboard covered in books. Me, with fuzzy hair and no known way to tame it, a little extra weight on me; sitting or laying on the floor, crying as understanding lyrics wash over me about loving myself and growing old with dignity…..I can still remember putting Winter on repeat…..wishing that I could feel in control of my life someday. I would lay and dream that I would meet the love of my life and we would have kids…..or I would be a writer and travel far, far, far away….
Today I have a rare day alone. I am holed up in my room. I am no longer 13, but in my 30’s. There are magazine photos pinned to the cork-board on the wall, along with photos of me and my husband. There are fake flowers hanging above the same dresser mirror I had in my room when I was 13…There are stickers of swallows decorating that same mirror and a bookcase filled with books and magazines. Candles are lit and the lamps are on while Tori Amos’s song Winter plays on the stereo and I’m reading. A book about Audrey Hepburn rests on my cross-legged, athletic thighs.
I feel young again. I have all the time in the world and I am just resting and listening to music. It feels like the most important thing in the world to be doing. There is no thought of who may need my advice or help. No need to jump up cuz the kids are awake from their nap (but how I miss that when they are away at Grandma’s!). I wish I could have told 13 year old me that in 11 years I would be listening to the same song by Tori Amos, but surrounded by so much love and all that my 13 year old self dreamed of and desired. I wish I could tell her it will all come true, you’ll see, just don’t stop believing in fairy-tales. I felt so wounded back then…But perhaps if I could have said that to myself it would have possibly changed everything, and I would hate for anything I have now to have been altered. Besides, it would have ruined the surprise.
Today the handsome husband and gorgeous children are away and the house is quiet. Today is a day for myself and for reflection…..
Today my whole world is this room, that song, flickering candles, the words on the book in front of me, cats sleeping beside me….
“When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses are still in bed
I tell you that I’ll always want you near
You say that things change my dear…”
– Winter, Tori Amos.