August 26, 2014
“Arizona took those broken birds / a wingspan away from the end of their world/ now they ride that thermal wind and we watch with open mouths”
You guys, my friend Emily wrote that line. It is gorgeous, and she wrote it. She, the girl I met at middle-school summer camp nearly two decades ago, with her guitar and her long hair (she still has both), the Indigo Girls obsession that she passed on to me; a friendship that grew into passed notes and sleepovers, concerts on Mud Island, obscenely long instant message conversations in the early days of AOL, and so much ubiquitous high school driving—the kind you do at night, with windows down, belting song lyrics that you feel certain were written just for you.
Now she’s the one writing those kinds of lyrics, and I could not be more proud. (The song is “Arizona” from the forthcoming album “Staking Flags in the Valley” from artist Emily White and you can listen to it here.)
You know how we all have a couple of really big, legitimate screw up moments in our lives? The ones that can’t be excused or explained or contextualized to make them sound less awful, because they are, in fact, pretty awful?
I have my fair share, and one of them involves Em. The summer before she went off to college, I fell for the girl she was dating and subsequently behaved pretty badly, and instead of taking responsibility for my dishonorable behavior, I acted like a jerk about it instead.
Not my finest hour.
Understandably, Emily cut ties with me and we remained out of touch for years while we both were in college, though mutual friends meant we both stayed on each other’s radars, at least peripherally. But here’s what really special about this story—she forgave me. Like, fully, wholly, and completely forgave me, beyond even my own capacity to forgive myself. Opened herself back up to me, sending letters in her familiar, small script, and gave me the gift of knowing her again.
If we’re lucky, our friends teach us simply by letting us witness their lives. They humble us with their goodness. They make beauty, and we are inspired to do the same.
The record that Emily has made is beautiful; I had the privilege of listening to a demo cut this summer while I was driving to Memphis, the place we both grew up, and it made me cry—in a good way.
Em has just launched a Pledge Music campaign to raise the remaining funds needed to print & promote “Staking Flags in the Valley.” (Because she’s a badass, she actually funded the majority of the album’s production herself—pretty damn amazing.) For as little as $5, you can receive a sampler of tracks from the album, with bigger contributions netting some pretty sweet swag—including t-shirts, prints of the album cover artwork, and signed copies of my book, The Pomegranate King! I’m so honored to be included in this project, and amazed by my friend’s generosity in promoting the work of others even as she works to put her own work out into the world.
Please consider supporting my amazing friend. Back at you soon with an end-of-summer pasta!
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