As I sent light to Aretha Franklin in this morning’s meditation practice, my phone randomly began playing her cover of “My Way”; a second later her death hit the wires. I chalk that synchronicity up to Aretha’s magic, not mine, because she was the most powerful musical conveyer belt of our time and always always sang everything, and I do mean everything, the best. She wrote and performed amazing songs, and she improved on everyone else’s by giving them the most soulful, the most heartfelt, and the most empowering interpretations. Hell, even Otis admitted her take on “Respect” eclipsed his, though he recorded it first. Whether she was producing, performing, or stepping up with sisters like Angela Davis, Aretha always did do everything “her way”– probably even decided when it was her time to go. But I will sit shivah this week anyway. Formal mourning is required when someone in your family passes over, and though I never met her in person, readers of this blog are well aware that Aretha Franklin raised me through her shining example and songs. I’m crying as I type this, and “99 Tears” doesn’t begin to cover how many more I will shed in her honor.
Praying for Aretha, who reportedly is gravely ill. I have loved her since I was a toddler, named my family cat after her when I was only 2, listened to her albums on autorepeat all through my childhood, adolescence, womanhood too. Her music has made me feel strong and seen through every heartbreak since I was a tween, has given me a soundtrack for every hard-won victory. She’s the queen and knows it because royalty always knows its worth. If it’s her time, I send light and love for her passage. But selfishly, so selfishly, I wish this woman to stay on the planet as long as I’m here. Through her unblinking glamour, her everything-and-the-kitchen-sink musicality, she’s guided me more than anyone else ever could.
Grace and I just returned to the city. For six days we sat on the screened-in porch of A’s house and watched May explode. Oh, I thrifted and wrote and she chased bugs and sunspots. Definitely I tromped through meadows, woodland paths in so many shades of green that some appeared gold and some appeared indigo.
But mostly we sat still and drank it all in.
When I stayed in Hudson before, I never ventured off the paths of A’s land. But since Truro’s mermaid woods I’ve gotten much bolder about venturing into uncharted territory. I’m less afraid of getting lost, and trust the sun even in the middle of the forest. Continue Reading →