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I Don’t Know What It’s Meant to Be

Written By: Lauren Howard

The ugly cry that I did last night. 

If there is another drought in California after yesterday, I probably caused it by the amount of liquid that I took out of the universe with my blubbering. 

I’m not in California, but I’m pretty sure that’s still science. Look it up. 

I spent a lot of the weekend putting together the pieces of a book that has been sitting around in a poorly constructed first draft for months. Maybe a year.

Cindy Gallop told me to get my sh!t together and finish it. 

It exists, but I don’t know what it is. It’s not what it’s supposed to be yet, but I also don’t really know what it’s supposed to be. Right now, it’s kind of a love letter to my biggest fan, my dad, and a decades-long tale of heartbreak, but I don’t know if that’s what it’s meant to be. It just all came out one day. 

I have so much anxiety about what it’s supposed to be, but I can’t answer who says what it’s supposed to be and who I’m trying to make happy by making it that. 

Right now, it just is. 

Needless to say, I spent a lot of time sobbing yesterday at the words I was tapping out on the keyboard.

I also did the scary thing and sent it to someone to read for the first time, which prompted the feeling that I was definitely going to puke. 

I didn’t, but that was touch-and-go for a bit.

While I was catching up on some of the things that needed attention by Monday, I had the Grammys on in the background. Something about the show just felt really familiar. It felt like they kept mentioning things that my dad always loved, which was weird but probably my own confirmation bias and not actually something that was happening, right? 

And then I found myself staring at Joni Mitchell, performing for the first time since having a devastating brain aneurysm ten years earlier. An aneurysm that my dad had in 1997. 

(Side note: They inserted a platinum coil into his brain to surgically repair the aneurysm. I used to tell him that he was worth a lot for parts, and that if he was sassy I would sell him to Cash for Gold.) 

Joni Mitchell was my dad’s favorite singer. He called himself an original folkie, and he listened to the Mamas and The Papas, The Weavers, and Joni Mitchell (among others) religiously, He stood in line to get their albums in the '60s. 

There she was, in real life today, singing a song that filled my house as a kid and felt like home to my dad, who struggled his whole life to feel like anything was home. He wasn't there to see it, but he might as well have been. His presence was palpable.

It was like he was sitting right f!cking next to me. 

To say I sobbed was an understatement. It felt cosmic, not incidental. It felt like a confirmation of stories that needed to be told because what else do old folkies do? They tell stories. 

I might be crying again. 

Yeah, okay, I am. 

I get it, Dad. We’re working on it. I promise. You are a lot of things, but clearly subtle is not one of them. 


Founder & CEO at elletwo


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