Why Stevie?

stevie-nj-feb2015

This piece originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

I’ve lost track of how much I’ve written about Stevie Nicks.

I’ve written so much about Stevie Nicks for about 600 different reasons, but until I run out of words to say, I can’t stop. It’s funny — they say write about what you know about, and for years I couldn’t stop wondering, “But what is it that I know?” I spent so much time as a writer searching for my beat, writing about things I wasn’t really suited for, things I didn’t really care about, when the whole time, what I needed to write about was right in front of my face.

The direction my writing has taken, the way it has grown, is really all because of Stevie Nicks. It was an accident. I had been thinking about Stevie. This little thought kept running through my head — maybe some women are mothers without children — to the point where I had to spill my feelings into my journal. I still couldn’t stop thinking. So I did what a lot of writers do — I shared my feelings with the world. I hadn’t really written anything like it before. I didn’t think it would be the first of many pieces like it. I didn’t think it was all that special.

What happened was magical, as most things associated with Stevie are. I expected nothing, I gained everything: new friends, new experiences, and most of all, a realization that a lot of people wanted to read about inspirational women — and not in a sappy, Reader’s Digest way, but in my real-talk millennial way — and I wanted to write about them. It was just the beginning.

I was sitting on a fire escape with a new friend a few weeks ago. It was late; we had a couple of drinks. When that time of the night rolls around, people become more honest, more vulnerable, less afraid. The conversation turned to Stevie Nicks. Somehow, it inevitably always does, whether with old friends or with new acquaintances just getting to know just how deep my admiration and love runs.

Why Stevie? What about Stevie Nicks makes her so special? they wanted to know. It was a good question. One I had a million different answers for, none of them simple. I couldn’t find an answer then; I’m still trying to find one now.

Why Stevie? Because she gives me a kindred spirit feeling, not just in our shared strengths, but our shared weaknesses. We’re two Taurus-Gemini cusps, if you believe in that sort of thing. We’re sensitive and ambitious with a tendency to burn the candle at both ends. We’re a little obsessive. We’re independent, sometimes maybe a little too much.

Why Stevie? Because my identity as a writer makes up so much of who I am as a person, and her writing never ceases to fascinate me. It’s a nerdy love, the young writer studying the mature master, in awe of the little things, the way one word can make a world of difference in a sentence, the repetition across different works. It pushes me to be better, to pause every so often as I write and put a hand to my heart, feel it beating, and question if I’m being truthful, if I’m saying what I really want to say.

Why Stevie? Because Stevie is magical. She just is. There is no one else like her. She’s the fairy godmother I’ve never met, something I’ve found to be true for many other girls. It’s felt in the way I feel the energy of the city change when she’s in town. It’s the way the “Wild Heart” dressing room video reminds me of how someone can be magnetic even when they’re not “on.” It’s the way “Crystal” is a fail-proof lullaby on the most sleepless nights. It’s the way“Gypsy” always comes on in any Whole Foods or restaurant or Juice Press I walk into after a long day at work, exhausted, full of questions. It’s the way her music holds my hand when I need it, encourages just as many tears as it dries, and pushes me to be braver.

Why Stevie? Because Stevie inspires me to be my biggest, boldest self. In her famous “We Should All Be Feminists” TED Talk, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie states how society teaches girls “to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.” Stevie has been rejecting this notion for decades. Pile on the chiffon, make those winged sleeves a little longer, add a top hat for height. Put a girl just over 5 feet tall and 100 pounds on a stage with four other people — three of them men — and she might be inclined to embrace her smallness, embrace the ability to blend in. But not Stevie. Never Stevie. Stevie reminds all of us that we deserve to take up space. We deserve to command attention.

Why Stevie? Because Stevie has the remarkable ability to be so fragile and vulnerable and sensitive, and yet so goddamn strong, stronger than she should be. She’s someone you feel the need to protect at all costs, but she’s also the first person you’d want to go to battle for you.

Does Stevie contradict herself? Very well, then, Stevie contradicts herself. She is large. She contains multitudes. She is the mysterious, hypnotic Rhiannon. She’s been sad Mabel Normand. She is Juliet, the queen without a king. She is the most genuine and authentic person I know, and I don’t even know her. That doesn’t really matter, because she’s taught — and is continuing to teach — me how to know myself.

Just a handful of the things I’ve learned: be yourself, whoever that may be, and own it. Have no chill — love unabashedly. Be proud of who you are and what you do, and show it off. Don’t let fear get in your way. Take chances. Get hurt and find art in the pain. Get back up again. Don’t let your heart harden. Stay vulnerable and naive. Be there for others the way she’s there for you. Be fiercely loyal. Stand up for yourself. Be okay with being uncool. Don’t let mistakes and flaws define you; do not let them make you feel unloveable.

Why Stevie? Because whenever I feel like I’m flailing, I remember that Stevie Nicks wasn’t built in a day. Stephanie Nicks wasn’t always Stevie Nicks, and even when she was, there was a time when being Stevie Nicks was decidedlyuncool. Her aesthetic may now be in style, her voice may now be deemed iconic, her writing may now be deemed prolific, but a long time ago, none of that was true. But she never let that stop her.

Why Stevie? Because Stevie refuses to be embarrassed. She refuses to change. She refuses to be jaded. She’s never reinvented herself or pandered to increasingly younger audiences to stay relevant. She stands resolute in her all-black gypsy queen ensemble. She proudly continues to write about love and life and gothic fairy tales through the romantic, optimistic lens of someone who has been through a lot less than her. For 68 years, she has been herself, 100 percent, unapologetically so.

Why Stevie? Because she represents so much of the kind of woman I want to become.

Happy Birthday, dear lady hero. Thank you barely begins to cover it, but still. Thank you for everything. Here’s to another year of inspiration.

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