When I was 18 and had my first great heartbreak, I listened to Stay With Me By Sam Smith on repeat for weeks.
And when I say on repeat I mean I listened to this song obsessively, to the point of insanity. This was back when I still used iTunes and it was the soundtrack to me getting ready in the morning, falling asleep at night, driving to work, lying on the bed and hoping that life changed for the better when I went to college in a few months. I spent a lot of nights on the living room couch at my parents house listening to this song. Crying into the pillows which in retrospect is probably really bad for the leather.
That summer I worked for my best friends dad and I used to spend a lot of hours alone at his store. Most of those hours were spent alternating between doing my actual work and crying while I played the song over the stores sound system. To the point where one day my friends dad remarked, “you know, listening to the same song over and over counts as torture in some countries.” Unfortunately for him, that did not nothing to stop me.
In the following years every time I was sad, had my heart bruised or broken, Stay with Me was played. It became a sort of signal to my roommates who knew that if I was listening to him, something was wrong. The song felt somehow both like an analgesic and like pressing down a bruise – a sweet and gentle ache.
7 years later, I still turn to Sam and the melancholy notes of Stay with Me to soothe any emotional wounds. It’s not even about the song itself anymore, instead I can feel all the echoes of my past sad selves wondering if they were going to make it, if things would be okay.
When I listen to this song I can feel my 18 year old self, so dumb and naive and trusting and so so sad, telling me it’s going to be okay. I can feel my 20 year old self, who was dumped in a Whole Foods on Valentine’s Day and unashamedly wept by the hot foods bar, telling me that sometimes, it’s okay to cry in public. I can feel my 22 year old self, white knuckling sanity through weekly therapy I couldn’t afford. She was shattered, a shadow of herself. She tells me that if she survived, if she thrived, I can do it too. Because I’ve already done it.
I can feel their sorrow and rage and their tears and their laughter – as they picked themselves up or took a friends hand. As they tried to heal the right way. Tried to remain soft and forgiving and open to love. I can feel their hands in mine and their arms around my shoulder. And I can almost hear them say:
“We’re going to be okay.”