They say what we see in others is a reflection of ourselves.
This is me admitting I didn’t want to see you tonight. You see, Miranda...I was mad at you.
I saw you for the first time in 2005. You were fresh on tour, riding high off your debut album. I was fresh out of college riding high on a dream job in radio. Your voice radiated off the walls of the Gorge and I held hands with the man I’d end up marrying celebrating nine months of bliss.
In 2011 when that marriage fell apart, I lost myself. I realized that I had become someone I didn’t know. But you told me what to do. With The House That Built Me on repeat, I drove north until I hit Evergreen Drive. I parked across the street and stared at my childhood home. I let the memories take hold. The cement step I spent hours sitting on. The back bedroom I learned the saxophone in. The tree my kitty was buried under. Where was that little girl? I was on a mission to find her.
But Miranda, I failed. Instead of loving myself I sought out love elsewhere. And honestly, I was horrible at it. And every time I failed, the crazier I became. I’ll never forget the day my Mama told me Mama’s Broken Heart reminded her of me. And she was right.
Eventually I found someone who tipped the crazy scale farther than I could. He hit my face and shook me like a rag doll. And I pulled Gunpowder and Lead out of the archives to help me find the strength to finally leave him.
In 2015 you came to town. And I was so excited to see you. To hear you in person again and to feel the way you made me feel during that first show in 2005. But you didn’t show up. Yeah, your physical self was there. But you didn’t even tell my listeners thank you for the Valentine’s card. You actually didn’t say a single word when I nervously stood next to you for that photo. Then you went on stage and it....well...it fell short. And I know you know it did. We left early. And I felt so abandoned by you.
Later that year I went back to those beautiful Gorge walls your voice once graced me in. Sitting in a green room, the industry conversation turned to you. Miranda, I ain’t gonna lie. It wasn’t pretty. You had just announced your divorce the week prior. They blamed you. Your drinking. They spread rumors about you cheating. But rather than leaving with a bad taste in my mouth about you, suddenly I felt my love for you return.
In February we had no idea what you were going through. Yet in the midst of all of your pain you still performed, even if it was only half-way. We gave you a Valentine’s card, as you were struggling from heartache. Just proof you never know what someone else is going through.
As for your drinking and apparent cheating, well girl...I can relate. Suddenly you became real to me all over again. You hadn’t abandoned me. But perhaps you had abandoned yourself.
Just like I had.
"When it hurts this good you gotta play it twice"...or three times, maybe four.
Vice on repeat in the kitchen as I sit out the window to my fire escape. I let a smoke ring escape my chapped lips. I hate cigarettes. Why am I smoking them? Oh that’s right, because I drank all the whisky and it’s all I have left. I swirl the ice in my glass and squint at the sun rising on the horizon.
"Standing at sink the now...looking in the mirror. Don’t know who I am or how I got here…".
I couldn’t feel that way anymore Miranda. I just couldn’t. So I quit. I quit drinking, I quit wallowing, I quit making excuses for my downward spiral...and I quit you. I abandoned you the way you abandoned me at that show in 2015. Because you bring me too much pain.
I didn’t want to see you tonight. I was mad at you for your truth. Your honesty. Your raw description of what had once been my life. I was afraid your words would remind me of the girl I once was. I was afraid it would hurt too much.
I was nervous as I stepped around that curtain. But you looked me in the eye. You thanked us for the gifts. And you smiled real big, showing the dimple you didn’t even bother to show three years ago. And when our gazes met I saw myself. I saw forgiveness. I saw a spark. And when you got onto that stage tonight...that spark turned into a full blown raging fire.
I watched you sing the chapters of my life. I watched the words escape clenched teeth like a wolf feeding on its prey. And it lit the spark inside of me. As that fire grew in my belly the tears escaped my eyes to try and put it out. But it was too late. I was face to face with exactly what I was afraid of - the girl I once knew. Only this time she was redeemed. We were both redeemed.
I didn’t want to see you tonight, Miranda. But more so, I didn’t want to see myself. But who would I be if I didn’t face those demons? You said it yourself tonight on stage, the bad times are what make you stronger.
And I think tonight, both of us left with the strength of an army big enough to fill an arena. Thank you for redemption. And thank you for being unapologetically YOU.