Track One: "I Won't"
A picture of teenage me. :)
When I was seventeen… I had a sinking feeling that the romantic relationship I was in was going to end soon...even though I was desperate to cling onto it. When I was seventeen, I had become deeply ingrained in a community at school, of friends and mentors that made me feel a deep sense of belonging… and then all of the sudden I was about to graduate. When I was seventeen, I felt my heart beating a little bit faster in my chest as May and June rolled around the corner, then senior prom, the senior all night party, the last musical, the last one act festival. When I was seventeen, my father was in prison. I was living a dual life of being the typical overachieving high school theater geek during the week, and on Sunday mornings I would get in the car with my mom and siblings and drive two hours to a federal prison waiting room. There I would get to spend a few precious moments visiting with a man that will forever, no matter what, be among the strongest and most self aware people I’ve ever known. Even the strongest of men struggle with something. When I was seventeen…we spent Christmas eating out of vending machines in a prison visitation room, so we could have Christmas dinner with my dad.
When it came time to graduate from high school, I came to realize that I was parting with a security blanket. I had a group of friends, a councilor, a boyfriend, and a mess of other distractions that kept me feeling sane during a time where my home life was flipped upside down. I have never talked about this on the internet and never thought that I would, but in hopes that my art touches someone I think it's important for context. Normally the idea of more elusive and highly symbolic art excites me, but this album is an exception. This is an exposé of the inner thoughts that I have long been afraid to share, the other side of the curtain where the chaos is happening away from the audience watching the stage. This album is about being unapologetic toward the feelings I’ve been ferociously afraid of confronting. I guess you can call it airing out the baggage so to speak, because I feel that the last few years of my life have been a spiral towards existential crisis about who I really am. I find that operating my life behind a shield is no longer allowing me the morsels of happiness or satisfaction it used to. I am at a place in life where to continue fulfilling the purpose I can feel in my gut… I have to break through.
I wrote “I won’t” when I was on the precipice of graduation. I’ve been writing songs since I was fifteen, most of them to be tucked deep in the archives of a dusty box in my parents garage, never to see the light of day. This one stuck with me through many life transitions. “I won’t” is an anthem to all of those who were there for me during that time in my life. All those who picked me up on the days I just couldn’t take it anymore, all those who laughed backstage with me during runs of high school musicals, all those who I danced with, kissed, had a crush on, fell in slightly naive teenage love with. All those who were in my life and are still in my life, and all of those who I wish were still in my life, and sometimes still think of in my few free moments. Even if we have lost contact for whatever reason, I hold nothing but love for you… even if at one point you broke my heart. If you need someone to talk to even now, years later, I'll still talk. Sometimes I wonder if you are out there somewhere, smelling a smell, driving by the old high-school theater, or happening upon a dusty picture in an old box in your parents garage…and being triggered by a memory of me.
As complicated as high school was, (and trust me it was not all rainbows and bliss), that performing arts center, that lunch table, those open mic nights, that random bench in the hall where our group would always meet before classes in the morning… they saved me. For that, I’ll take the good with the bad, and overall remember it as a chapter of my life both terrifying and beautiful.