Tori Amos :: Under the Pink (1994)
Once upon a time there was a girl who was hidden within the body and the casings of a life of a woman. She was afraid all the time though she hid the fear well. She had survived battles and breakdowns and pain that few new of before she was able to name them, or understand. Her skills to survive made her feel older than her years, but they also haunted her, the feeling that at any moment she would have to choose to fight or flight, kept her tied up in knots, sleepless and shaky.
Doubt beckoned at every turn, and she clung to a man who thrived on coldness and control. It seemed at first that the freezing nothing of his stare, and the flat commands he gave, were a safe place to hide. So, she hid herself away and wore a mask of happy wife, happy life, happy mother, happy family, and she wrapped herself up in a false coat of strength.
Every morning she would lie in bed, awake before the sun, and wonder how she would last another day. She would hold her breath until her chest ached and the pressure to exhale became unbearable. Ten steps and a closet door, tip toes to a top shelf, and there she would find a suitcase. Some mornings, in that lie awake time, just knowing it was there was enough. One day she might just run away.
So many secrets were held in that year. She filled pages and pages of truths and lies in composition books, trying to make sense of it all, or maybe it was more like she was trying to dispel it, throwing it on to the page as an act of throwing it away. Perhaps she just wanted someone to find her words, find her, and take her far away from all of it. How did she get here?
All the music that was stacked on a tall bookshelf, and in crates and bins all around their overcrowded apartment, they were what got her out of bed eventually; music forever saving the girl’s life, over and over again. Under the Pink was one of those life-saving albums, an ode to the confessions, the stories, the hopes and pleas she put down in all those notebooks. So many of her secrets and deep down emotions were let loose when she would put this CD in and push play, she can still hear them now. I can still hear them now.
Here are three sentence reflections of each song, from my past, from those notebooks, from that scared girl in a woman’s body that I once was, and sometimes still am:
Pretty Good Year
“Hold on to nothing as fast as you can.”
Pen pal letters to people from around the world, addresses culled from the back of a free press throwaway, these were a life raft way out. I put tiny pieces of myself in each letter imagining real parts of me travelling far away. I was tethered to one place though, to an unhappy marriage and a beautiful baby girl.
“Do you need a woman to look after you?”
In surviving my own life, without the help from God, and sometimes in spite of God, or at least in spite of religion, I had developed an unrealistic belief that I could help save other people’s lives. Trying to save and be a caretaker made me bitter and lonely. I wanted to scream at the sky, at him, and myself.
Bells for Her
“I’ve got your mind, I said. She said I’ve your voice.”
I missed my childhood best friend and the way they could clasp hands and conquer anything. She was far, far away and their words had stopped flowing. I knew deep down that neither of us was okay.
Past the Mission
“She said she knew what my books did not.”
Mysterious and beautiful, she took me to dark places with her hand in mine. I was not supposed to let my heart get involved, but it was hard not to. She would leave me, over and over, alone and confused, only to come knocking on my door again.
“If you see him, say hi.”
I still carried him around with me, it would take many years before I could let him go. It felt as if I had left my heart with him when we had split apart. I missed him every single day.
The Wrong Band
“Instead of just leaving.”
Eventually I would leave, I knew that from the very first day. I was hiding in a place that was not to be mind, but I fought the inevitable leaving. I was still hoping for something to hang on to, something to believe in.
“But I believe in peace, bitch.”
The ugly, angry side of me was kept tucked away, never seen or heard or spoken of. But I had that side of me, she did exist. Late at night I could see it in my mirror reflection, and its existence scared me.
“Thought it was a good solution hanging with the raisin girls.”
Pretending to be someone else had become second nature to her. A chameleon, that’s what one of the doctors had said she was back when she was shuffled from one therapist to another, back in her late teen years. She never knew which color to stay with, though.
“Greeting the monster in our Easter dresses.”
I liked to believe surviving had made it all go away, but the monster still came to me in my dreams. Sometimes in my waking moments I felt him, too, and that was when the most sever panic attacks would hit. I could never run fast enough.
Cloud on my Tongue
“I’ll be wearing your tattoo.”
I was learning to live half a life and a half of a love, but it was never really living. Real living had left a mark that could never be erased and deep down I knew it. I could never get myself numb enough to not feel the regret and what if’s.
“So sure we were on to something.”
Music was my saving grace and musicians seemed to have the sonic pull of the pied piper. I was on my way to ever falling for music men and artists. My art was stifled when I stayed in the their shadows, though, as I had not gotten to the point where I knew how to be equal in artistic dreams.
“We’ll see how brave you are, we’ll see how fast you’ll be running.”
But run I would, and fast as hell, but it would be another year before my feet would move. I ran to the wrong place though, landed smack in the wrong space. I still have the scars.