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“think of meryl streep”

August 23, 2016

when i was 12, my mum took me to see the musical fame at the royal alex. i’m not the biggest musical person (except for joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat, of course, which is the best musical ever, bar none, especially if donny osmond is the lead) but i remember this one sticking out pretty clearly, probably because it’s a lot of heavy subject matter for a preteen. but for some weird reason, the song that stuck most with me wasn’t the theme song, but think of meryl streep. i remember the woman on the stage was alone, and emotional, and lit up with a single spotlight, and even as a stunted pre-adolescent who had experienced really nothing of the world, i clued into something there.



the lyrics go like this:

think of how to use it
use it on the stage
think of Katherine Hepburn
think of Gerry Page

think of all the feelings
wasted on this creep
think of how you could use them
think of Meryl Streep

though your heart is breaking
never start to weep
someday you can use it
think of Meryl Streep

so i’m a clueless half-wit almost-teenager watching a woman pour her heart out about taking all the cyclical emotional foofaraw that comes with being an adult and channelling it in a creative pursuit. and now i’m a 29-year-old woman (who can still sometimes be a clueless half-wit) and i get it.

i often think of that line – “someday you can use it/think of meryl streep.” i didn’t realise how often i came back to it until a few weeks ago i finally sat down and relistened to that song. it’s more uptempo than i remember, but it still holds true.

everything i do – every up or down; every time something i do sticks and my heart sings; every time i am a shattered woman sobbing in the shower at 2 a.m.; every time i feel thwarted and i am so angry i am clenching my fists in a bathroom stall; every time i notch another accomplishment and i feel one step closer toward being a functioning adult; every time i am quiet and watching the waves on georgian bay; every time i cry myself to sleep – i am taking it and compressing it and putting it into my emotional filing cabinets and writing down key words and remembering where it is so i can come back to it later and mine it for some form of writing.

my griefs and ups and downs are no more special than anyone else’s. (this is important to remember so that i don’t slide into melodrama) but i have the ability to take my griefs and ups and downs and maybe make them special through writing about them, if i can do it well – weave them into other parts of things already written, write new things about new feelings, write new things about old feelings.

somehow, this song became a weird mantra to me, through 17 years of having it marinate in my head. (and only now is it coming out!) i think we all have our own talismans for being creative: this is one of mine.

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