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Share Your Love With Me (Aretha, Forever)

Did you know that Aretha’s version of “Share Your Love With Me”–first recorded by Bobby Band, but no one covered a track like the Queen–has made me cry ever since I was a kid? The loneliness and longing of the lyrics are perfectly matched by Aretha’s musicalit; she always produced her albums when the studios boys didn’t credit her. Just listen to the first chords of her piano; that Atlantic Records horn section; her glorious, churchified sisters thrilling and trilling; and then Lady A swooping us all up–generously, joyfully–in her big beautiful voice, making all of the human condition OK. Yes, even our pain. Especially our pain.

This song. I can’t tell you how many times my heart has been so broken that I’ve barely been able to feed myself, let alone feel myself, but could still listen to this song. Over and over, numbly at first, then with big tears streaming, until I was shored enough to face the world with spine and lipstick straight. This song is my church, and Aretha is forever my minister.

I’d say I miss her and of course that’s true. But it’s also true that she lives on in every one of my scratchy vinyls. The ones I’ve been listening to since I was that kid in dirty braids who saved up to buy them at Skippy White’s in Cambridge’s Central Square. I’m so grateful Aretha Franklin helped raise me even if she didn’t know she was doing it. Raising people up is what she did and she always will. She shares her love with all of us.

The Church of Mother Mary’s Orphans

For the last four days I’ve been terribly sad for reasons I don’t yet wish to put into general print. (Save it for the book, save it for the book.) Yesterday I didn’t go outside once but instead watched movies and also the wall. Gracie helped, she always helps, and eventually I managed to clean my house, also myself. But the sadness never abated, nor did my desire to avoid everyone.

Not great when you make your living translating people back to themselves.

Daylight savings made me happy, though—put me back in step with the human race. Waking at 5am today meant I really woke at 6am—only had to wait a few hours for the rest of the world to catch up. It was a welcome transition, this springing forward. During autumn and winter, by the time everyone else begins to stir, I’ve moved into the mental malaise of mid-morning–fed, caffeinated, overwhelmed–

Today I was first in line at the bakery, ready for croissant and bread to freeze for the rest of the week. The sun was bright and promising. Cool enough to merit the armor of winterwear, warm enough to merit sneakers unhindered by socks.

The goldilocks of March weather, what ho.

Into my earbuds I put an audiobook of Anne of Green Gables, that patron saint of hopeful orphans, and set off on a new route with new Mary statues studding new people’s stoops. Each time I encountered the Blessed Mother I heard her sing: You are a beloved child of the universe, loved in every shade.

She sings it to each of us, and means it all the time.

The Church of Nowhere to Go

It’s Sunday morning, and this one feels especially lonely.

I’ve always regarded November and March as the loneliest months. Not the unloveliest—that honor is reserved for February—but the loneliest. November bombards you with the myth of the nuclear family, but also is rife with mystery and magic. March, my mind, is nearly charmless. Taxes loom, chickens come home to roost, snow storms–and with none of that December magic.

This year March is especially intolerable. The weather is starting to shift, and for that I’m grateful, very grateful. The sun is brighter, the days are longer, there’s a sudden promise in the air. But that promise is painful.

Maybe because half the people I know are vaccinated while I am not. Maybe because my back is too wonky for me to drive very far. Maybe because the cold in March is harder to bear. Right now everything is on the horizon—spring, shots, opportunities, freedom— and it still doesn’t feel guaranteed that horizon will become a Now. I want somewhere to go, someone to hold, someone with whom to sit unmasked on a soft scratchy couch, someone to jostle without consequence on a gloriously crowded street.

It’s Sunday morning, and this one feels especially lonely.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy