Only One Love Song

I’ve been lucky enough to see Damien Rice live..twice.

The first time I saw him was in October of last year. It was the second-to-last stop on the US leg of his first tour in nine years. It was such a big deal that a friend and I flew to Brooklyn 14 hours after I flew back to the states after my stint in Germany. It was an incredible trip and an even more incredible show (Glen Hansard even made a special appearance!). I had always known he was talented, always known that he was a very special musician, and seeing him live solidified that knowledge.

In October, I was still blissfully happy in a long-distance relationship that had started several months previously. We had reconnected after over a decade of not living in the same city, him being in Alaska and my home changing multiple times. Hours and hours of skype were part of every week, and my twenty-fifth birthday was spent in Anchorage with him. It was a relationship different than any I had ever experienced before. The communication was unreal. I grew to understand and know him better than almost anybody I’ve ever known. So at this concert, surrounded by songs that I thought were all about love, I thought they resonated with me.

The relationship ended about a month later for a multitude of reasons, and I think I’m just now finally able to look back on everything with a sense of thankfulness for the good moments that did happen. Of course, there are still twinges of loss, but overall, I’m glad everything happened the way it did. Since then, any sort of romantic life I might have had has been in a very strange place. I don’t mean for all of my posts lately to be about relationships and romance, but for someone who’s spent the majority of her last nine years (excluding this past year) in a relationship, the mental adjusting to single-hood is a difficult one.

Back on Damien-topic. The second time I got to see him was two days ago. I’m still on a concert high. Not only was I in a different emotional place, his raw emotion and connection to his songs was much more evident this time around. It was otherworldly. I brought a friend with me, and she and I sat in our chair in the second row enraptured the entire time. It was one of those shows where you just watch in awe of the artist on the stage. I’m fairly certain we both had slightly teary eyes the whole way through, and there were moments that his lyrics hit me and brought back memories from the past few years in vivid color. Memories of not feeling loved, memories of loneliness, betrayal, anger, sadness, but also memories of hope and learning to figure out what I want from life.

If you aren’t familiar with his back story, Rice had a very tumultuous relationship with someone that used to play with him. It was a very passionate relationship, but major ups and downs came with the passion. Many of his songs are about that relationship, and most of them are not favorable. At one point in the show, he started talking about how he was asked about all of the love songs he had written. He mentioned that he went through the songs he wrote and noted that there was only one song really about love: “I Don’t Want To Change You“. The lyrics are a complete surrender, a total giving up of the selfishness many people tend to bring to the table in relationships without realizing it.

In this past year, I’ve learned to really appreciate lyrics more than ever before. Being able to hear the background stories of some of his songs and seeing the different emotions tied into each song was key to bringing those lyrics even more to life. I feel like I’ve grown into a completely different person than even who I was a year ago. I’m constantly working on letting go of the cynical bitterness I feel like I’ve been using as a shield to protect myself from getting hurt and getting back to a place where I can unselfishly love people no matter how they might have treated me in the past. I’ve particularly been struggling with that the past month or two. These songs, this show, this phenomenal musician..they were a perfectly timed reminder to get back to the goal of forgiveness and love that I set for myself months ago.

Damien Rice at the South Side Ballroom, Dallas, TX - August 201
Damien Rice at the South Side Ballroom, Dallas, TX – August 2015

listening to: Damien Rice

Happy Challenge: Round 2

A little over a month ago, I completed the 100 Happy Days challenge on my instagram. I used it as a way to count down until my trip to Alaska and as a way to make sure I appreciated as many moments as possible in those hundred days.

Challenges like this help to remind me that days are made up of different moments and experiences, and it’s our choice to focus on the good or the bad. For someone who struggled with severe depression for quite a long time, remembering to seek out the light and the good is a very important task. While it’s not a crippling fear of any sort, I do know that for someone like me, it can be easy to sink back into the unhappiness and self-isolation if I’m not conscious of my daily well-being.

All of the seriousness aside, I also enjoyed my first 100 days challenge because I started to find joy in simple things that previously I had taken for granted. A sunny day or simply having some quiet time to write became things that I learned to appreciate far more than before.

I’ve also always been known as somebody who doesn’t tend to finish what she starts. If I was even able to count how many projects I had started and hadn’t finished, I’d be appalled with myself. To say I have commitment issues is putting it lightly. To have completed the photo challenge without skipping a single day or dreading having to post a picture was a huge change for me.

Because of all of this, I decided to do a second round of 100 Happy Days. I’m only three days in as of today, and lot will be happening in the next ninety-seven days, so it should be another fun challenge. The final day (if I did my math correctly- which I didn’t do the first time) is scheduled to be December 31, so I will have moved from Germany to Texas, visited New York City with friends, seen Damien Rice and Jason Mraz in concert, visited family, and moved from Texas to Alaska by the time the hundred days are up. With all the moving and traveling that will be going on, it will also be a good way to keep me grounded.

I wanted to show off a few of my favorite moments from my first round of the challenge. I could have easily picked twice as many photos, but settled with five good memories, because they helped shape my growth during those hundred days.

day8

A few of the girls that quickly became my family while in Frankfurt. I know without a doubt that these three are lifetime friends and I wouldn’t trade our laughs and deep talks for the world.

day11

I visited Berlin for the first time nine years ago, and my visit in May this year was just as wonderful. I got to show off the unique city to my parents, and the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall will probably always be one of my favorite sights to visit in the world

day30

My job isn’t always just fun and playing games with the kids I watch. Sometimes, it gets very stressful and overwhelming. This Wednesday was one of those days of constant running around with no break in sight. The host mom I work for sent me out for drinks with friends, and being able to spend all night talking about everything under the sun was just what I needed.

day67

Another photo tied to a memory of a day that didn’t start out all that well. It was the 4th of July, and the only day where I was painfully homesick. I wanted to go out and celebrate with fireworks and barbecue, but without any Americans to spend the day with, I felt completely isolated. I ended up traveling to the American air force base close to where I live and spending the evening out there. It was one of those emotional days, but I ended up enjoying the evening and learning I can celebrate a holiday without needing to be surrounded by friends or family.

day90

Paris. All of Paris will be a fond life memory, but being able to just sit and enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower from my friend’s apartment was the most serene I felt the entire time I was in France. Oh, to be able to go back there and spend hours writing on that balcony. A girl can always dream.

listening to: Alt-J