Wake and Be Fine.


It makes sense that this song is here for me, right now. Tracing the trajectory of my life, during the important events that have marred the lackluster backdrop of my day to day existence, all of which pale in comparison to what I’m dealing with now, there has always been one person who’s towering presence has been an unwavering constant and that person? It’s Will Sheff, lead singer of Okkervil River. Of course.

As I languish in eating-disorder-recovery hell, finally being dismissed by doctors after I gain enough weight to warrant their dismissal, I hear “Savannah Smiles” and the titular character is living my life – She sleeps and lies around and then she goes out. The next year, I make a disastrous attempt at being an adult, moving away to Illinois, and it’s “A Girl In Port”, “Starry Stairs”, “Red” – And I realize that the reason that Okkervil River has been endeared to me in such an intense manner is because of Sheff’s predilection for writing extremely honest, realistic, severely troubled female characters that I relate to intensely.  So of course it only makes sense that the band releases “Wake and Be Fine” four days after I burn my dad’s corpse in a pyre that divides my life evenly into “before” and “after”, only two days after I scream and sob and take the little bit of order my life had and shatter it in shards all around me, only one day after I cry into the inept arms of a boy that doesn’t know what to do to make me feel better. I tell him I need to fix things and I do – I need to fix things, I need to fix everything, I need everything to be okay. He looks at me and he tells me: “You can’t fix things.” These are the truest words I’ve heard since my dad died.

Suddenly, my life is a movie, a montage of days the order of which is shown through the devolution of my hair’s state of being. I’m a girl on couches and beds, laying under blankets with tragically wide eyes, the kind a deer has, framed in the cylindrical glow of headlights right before impact – It’s an impact I keep waiting for that never comes. Wouldn’t it all be so much easier if I died too? These half-thoughts enter her brain and linger for a moment before dissipating. She’s stopped wearing the makeup she never used to leave her room without days ago and constantly, she shakes. Boys lend her books but all she can do is stare at the pages. It takes her an hour to get out of bed and when she does, she wanders around looking lost and all anyone can do is ask her “Are you okay?” There are cut scenes – A dozen cut scenes – of everyone asking her “Are you okay?” and a flashback – She’s in Gray and Melissa’s kitchen and she’s sobbing and she’s shaking and she’s screaming and Archie Powell, a boy that’s known her longer than anyone in her current state, comes over to her, puts his hand on her shoulder, and tells her “Amber, I don’t want you to think no one wants to do anything to help you. We just don’t know what to do.” She calms down for a second and realizes that she’s everything she never wanted to be right now.

This entire moment – This entire strange transitional time in my life, condensed down from one week into three minutes – is orchestrated by the cutting waltz of “Wake and Be Fine”, anchored on the lines Someone said to me it’s just a dream, why don’t you wake up and you’ll see it’s fine?

Wake and be fine, you’ve still got time to wake and be fine.

I take these words and I commit them to memory, listen after listen, hoping that if I hear them enough times, this part of my life – This week, this scene – will be over and I will be, just as Sheff says, “fine”. A sense of structure and normalcy will return to my life, an order, and everything will be like it was. I understand that it can’t be like it was but all I want out of life is for everything to return to the exact moment everything changed and to never receive that phone call, the one that turned me into the daft, hollow cynic I’ve turned into. I want to have made mojitos and laughed at shitty pop punk bands. I want the biggest thought in my brain to have remained the quandary of whether or not the boy I liked liked me too. I want to have been taken home that night and I want to have kissed him because I was planning that, that’s what was going to happen. I want everything to be like it was. And I feel cheated that it’s not. And I feel naive for believing that if I try at normalcy hard enough, I can go back to that moment and fix everything.

Can I wake and be fine?


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