December 25th, 2016
I wake at the crack of dawn and boot up my laptop computer. There’s a peripheral sense of purpose to this action. It’s urgent and focused, like the continuation of a thought.
I go to my download folder and click open a folder titled “Amy.” It’s the documentary film of the life and death of one of my all-time favourite singers, Amy Winehouse. I’ve had the film since it was available for download over a year ago, but I never seem able to watch it beyond the first few minutes. It’s too haunting, too troubling, or maybe I just wasn’t ready.
Today, I decide I am.
One hundred and twenty-eight minutes of heartbreaking and stirring footages and images, a window into how the songs I love came to be. A part of me is hoping the film would have a different ending. The past is too hard, finality is too painful. Here I am, wishing, absurdly, for a miracle.
It’s particularly distressing to learn how the jam “Rehab” came about:
I ain’t got the time/ And if my Daddy thinks I’m fine
No no no! I’m thinking. Don’t sing that.
She might have been saved. Maybe if she had gone to rehab then, maybe if she’d gotten help before the fame, maybe if she didn’t adore her father and his opportunistic strain of love, maybe…
What does it matter anyway?
This feels too familiar. Perhaps that’s why, up until now, I never made it past the first few minutes. In places, it’s like staring in the mirror: the self-jeopardy, the self-destructive behaviour, the need to escape, to disappear…
Perhaps if she had the right people closer… Perhaps if she could have told love from a leech’s thirst.
In a perfect world, Amy goes to rehab. In a perfect world, her Daddy doesn’t think she’s fine.
In a perfect world, stars shine and don’t burn out before it’s time.
At the end of the film, I burst into loud, body-racking ugly-face tears. I’m not entirely sure who these tears are for -Amy? Me? -but I let them run their course. It feels strangely cathartic and, in my mind of connected and connecting dots, a prescriptive pattern forms:
First, you deal with your shit, then you move on with life.
I wipe my eyes as the closing credits roll, wash my face in the sink, then go downstairs to the kitchen.
I have Christmas lunch to make and a cake to bake.