Mare sent me a book containing a single poem by Sarah Kay. A couple of you may recognize it. This is the live version:
The more I watch this video, the more I think of Ada’s middle name. Colette. I finally told the full story of Colette to her paternal grandparents last week and it was such a bittersweet story to tell, given the circumstances. While her first name is a random collection of letters we liked the sound of, Colette is mine all mine, the name in the back of my head since I was 15 years old.
In 1996, Rosanne Cash released 10 Song Demo. It was an album of demo songs, not fully produced, and it included a song called “The Summer I Read Collette”. Yes, with 2 Ls. I’ll explain that later. The album as a whole, but particularly “Collette”, resonated with me as a clinically depressed, severely ill 15 year-old.
we are blinded to the beauty in our own lives
but I was taking all that I could get
for five or six hours in the month of July
the summer I read Colette
Loving this song required some research. I had to fire up AOL 3.0 to find out what Père Lachaise was and I had to contact the only person I knew then who spoke French to translate one line for me (nous nous réveillons = we awaken ourselves). I even vowed to read Colette, but I didn’t get much further than watching Gigi.
I probably listened to this album at least thrice a day for a year. As my depression faded, so did my need to listen to 10 Song Demo. I always felt it had a role in healing me.
In 1998, I spent some time in Europe and this CD was tucked into my backpack. When I was in Paris, I wrote in my journal because it felt like the thing I had to do. I stood in places and wondered if Rosanne had stood there. Together with her short story “Part Girl” from Bodies of Water, 10 Song Demo became inexorably entangled with my own Parisian spiritual rebirth.
I sold my silver to get myself there
to room with a candle up three flights of stairs
that was the summer I let it all go
to fill up my body with my heart and my soul
After I returned to the states, 10 Song Demo returned to a shelf and was always considered a favorite, but I only played it sporadically. Six years ago, I had a miscarriage and found myself in a pretty deep depression, and it was the only music that provided any comfort, particularly the song “Mid-Air”. Eventually, again, I healed enough to shelve the disc.
In 2010, Rosanne released her memoir, Composed, in which she discusses recovering from a miscarriage through the recording of 10 Song Demo. Aaaaand yeah. I remember where I was when I read that chapter, and it felt like I’d had the wind knocked out of me. (But it reminded me how much I love the taste of air.)
When I was pregnant and girl names were being debated, Colette always had a role. I knew it would be at least her middle name, and if I didn’t find anything that I loved more, it would have been her first. I wanted my daughter to take all that she could get, to never be blind to the beauty in her life, to spend as much time as she needed to fill up her body with her heart and her soul. I brought her into a world where there is pain occasionally but beauty always. Always.
Back to the Ls. The liner notes of the album spell it Collette. The author was spelled Colette. I left it up to Rosanne, who spelled it Colette in a conversation with me on Twitter. One L it was.
And yes, she knows.
Being blind to beauty is a common problem, a problem that afflicted GL the day this book arrived in the mail. I handed it to him and said “Read this, please, it will only take 5 minutes”, knowing that when he got to the Warrior reference, his eyes would light up and he would feel the knot in his throat that it was fated too, because the warrior is a link they’ve shared since before birth. But he never found a spare 5 minutes. Someday, I trust that he’ll be her warrior again, I trust that I won’t always be the only one fighting.
(Yes, on a scale from one to overtrusting, I am pretty damn naïve.)
One thing I’ve really struggled with the last couple of weeks is positivity. It is very very hard to wear the cape this time, with so much weight standing on it. But then I think about the world I want her to grow up in, and I realize that if she’s ever going to believe in the beauty, I have to believe in it again too. And so, the CD goes back in rotation.