Finally there was a name for her animal. But naming didn’t stop it from eating her.
HOW YOU FUCKING BEEN, CALIFORNIA?!
Remember me, that one chick from Upland? The one who still had Rwanda ringing in her ears and France in her hair? The girl who had ‘adventure’ on her lips but had only eyes for home? The girl with a fast racing heart but a clock stuck on family time?
The one audibly fed up with the competitiveness of Orange County culture, the unsettled one. The one who made trips to Los Angeles for her innumerable amount of shows, but couldn’t seem to meet you for coffee. The one always on something; music she called it.
And how she chased that music, do you remember?! She ran, she drove… miles and miles it was, to get her hands on some. There was something in her, coursing through her veins…. like blood, but waterier and less filling; some would call it “restlessness”, but she found it be called “HerEnergy”. It was biting her bones, it sunk its teeth into her nerves. Her family saw, her family knew! The close friends grew clever; they knew tickets had to be mentioned in order to sell her on commitment. I have an extra ticket, Katrina! Then she came. I found this musician! Then she listened. The sisters, the mother, the friends… they could see the extra energy swirling around her, even before she spoke. She was grateful they understood, but didn’t know how to explain it herself.
Her energy was her constant companion, her pet; it grew and grew and grew. And as with any terrifying but beloved pet… as it grew, she had to tame it for her safety. As caged HerEnergy got bigger, Katrina learned how to calm it. She learned the right things to whisper, learned how to soothe HerEnergy’s tantrums. She got better and better at keeping HerEnergy still and sweet. They loved each other, they worked for each other.
But HerEnergy kept getting stronger, and it would adapt almost too quickly for it’s owner to keep up: there were even times that Katrina could not control it.
Her family knew this. They told her to leave, leave the place that said “You can be bigger! You can be better! Be more! Be prettier! Be smarter! Be everything, be everywhere or you are nothing! BE MORE!” Somehow her family’s souls had learned how to sweep away the nags of Grand Ambition…. But they knew the sounds of California always triggered HerEnergy to attack Katrina, to eat Katrina, to almost kill Katrina.
And it was, it slowly was. The young woman was noticing that whenever she went to feed HerEnergy, the smell of sour overpowered the sweet. The events she attended, the people she met– they advertised ‘organic’ but were riddled with distrust; this didn’t sit well with either of them. And now HerEnergy was bigger than ever—she didn’t have to walk it everyday, she had to run it everywhere, all time.
Finally there was a name for her animal. But naming it didn’t stop it from eating her.
So those that loved her watched her earnestly self-medicate HerEnergy with Sound, and let it be. It’s the one antidote, she once wrote in her journal. The one thing that stops all the Thinking.
And those that loved her, but didn’t understand…they asked the good, right questions:
“Why aren’t you working?”
“I am… just little giggy things but I’m getting by. I leave in three and a half weeks, after all. Who’ll hire a girl about to leave?”
“Why not go back to Mama D’s during the weekend?”
“I got 3 more weekends, and two are at festivals. There’s Rich’s birthday, too, and I refuse to miss that.”
“Fine. The weekdays?”
“The shifts would be in the evening, 4-8.”
“So Annika works from 5am-1pm and then has practice until 4 o’clock in Newport.”
“So I want to stay in Upland. I want to live within small means and only pay for gas and groceries with the couple hundred I have outside savings. I want to always be home when my family is. I only have three and half more weeks here, after all. I want it spent with them.”
And within those three and a half weeks, she and HerEnergy went wild.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
She hand-wrote a story every other morning (which she later gave away).
She biked 10 miles to and from the gym every other morning (which she later appreciated).
She’d wait for Larissa to return from her trips and to wake up from her incredibly long sleep-ins (after which, within those last 3 weeks, she grew even closer to).
She’d wait for her mother to arrive from work at noon (with whom, in the last 3 weeks, she grew even closer to) so they could cook and coffee and talk.
She’d wait for Annika to come home (with whom, in the last 3 weeks, she grew even closer to) so they could cook and beer and talk.
And when Katrina wasn’t waiting—
She was dashing for Sound.
To find Music, the invisible friend who spoke only in the language of motion.
Music, the friend who moved her body her until she stopped thinking.
Music! The friend who spun her feelings until she was laughing.
The friend who sang her heart until she was weeping.
Music, the friend who–
The love who never asked her to say anything, to be anything… except agree to the art with her whole existence at that precise second.
I am! We are! This is! She screamed to the air, her mouth shut and her fingertips scaping the sky. This is expression! This is human! This is motion! she bellowed with her twirls, the beat dropping and her smile exploding throughout the venue, her arms wrapping and unwrapping the mixture of melodies with a carelessness almost too easy, a carelessness that meant severe, sincere devotion was finally flowing forth from a locked universe.
She’d get this way, every time, every dance floor. The poor doll wasn’t even on drugs. She was that lit up by Not Thinking So Much.
That’s how much she liked freedom.
. . . . . . . . .
What had kicked HerEnergy into such high gear?
“You’ve been like this since France,” her mother comforted. This had truth to it — HerEnergy had first tasted freedom there.
This has everything to do with Mama D’s, she once wrote in a journal. And there was no denying that– HerEnergy was allowed to show the extent of its heart there.
“It must have been Rwanda that’s done this too me,” Katrina once said to Larissa. This made sense — HerEnergy had found purpose in seeing how humans can truly help other humans.
So freedom, heart, and purpose were inextricably related to the power of HerEnergy.
Why was California not about that anymore? Wasn’t it the center? Wasn’t it riddled with possibility? Wasn’t this the dream? HerEnergy snarled and snapped at her Don’t ask these questions, they hurt me, they keep me up at night, they make me want to be better, smarter, prettier, faster, everything, everything, why am I not everything! Let’s start tomorrow, we’ll make some calls and- Katrina turned inwards and coaxed it back to sleep, ‘You know you don’t believe that. And you know fame is a cold blanket. Remember David? The boy you sponsor in Africa? You are everything to him, silly, just by being your damn self. Now shush, we’re going to see Flume with Ricky tomorrow. Shhh, just one more week.’ She was confused, but on fire. Scared, but sure.
She’d never felt like this before a Jump.
. . . . . . . . .
A week later she was standing on the deck of her grandmother’s summerhouse in– of all places– Finland. She braced herself against the railing of the wooden terrace, watching clouds swim on the still surface of a water who’s name she could not yet pronounce.
Katrina was stone. She stood there as still as the tall trees that framed the wooden cottage, as still as the miles of bark, branches, and leaves watching the lake burn gold with the setting sun. Katrina spoke nothing, thought nothing, and moved not at all. She was writing without pen or pencil, in her head, the same word:
She’d been here before, nine years ago. Standing in this very spot. And now she stood overlooking the water, on the balcony where she once sat riddled in Adolescence and Heartbreak and Family and Real and Progress…
My heart remembers, she wrote. How unexpected.
The surprise fell into the soil of memory and pronounced seeds of warmth upon her senses. It spoke poetry through her thoughts—thoughts that were both untouched by time and yet simultaneously measured by it. These were not the heavy thoughts she’d left behind. There was no sound to these, just existence. Like the friendship that exists within yourself just before a nap.
When you’re doing yourself such a long-overdue favor that you have only to accept it to feel the warmth of it.
And HerEnergy sat quietly beside the girl, purring softly and gazing ahead alongside its master. It could run, it could sleep; it mattered not. It only mattered what Katrina wanted to do, and yet — for once– the eldest Nelson daughter didn’t seem in a hurry.
No hurry at all.
The beast mused lightly and indifferently next to her, politely waiting for the next command.
The next jump.
The next rest.