I remember Lorde’s seventeenth birthday better than my own. It marked the first of the newsletters she’s sent, the one where she reflected on one year’s worth of progress and difficulties. She called herself a “weird little screwball” and the words, while inconvenient, make me feel the hot, welling, tears you only seem to feel when defending what you love.
I was a kid in Kansas City, desperate to see her in concert, and more desperate to get out of my own skin. The Love Club EP had been on repeat and Pure Heroin was released just two months prior to the letter. It was 2013 and I bet I spent the day running between extracurriculars and didn’t stop to think for more than a minute. Reasons why I look back to her writing, since she was the one to document it while I was too busy (and too naive) to take care of myself.
Lorde’s birthday (Ella- am I allowed to call her that?) is November 7th and mine, December 17. Winter birthdays in weeks that swerve away from the actual holidays of the season. Easily forgettable. But ever since that first entry, Lorde’s birthday newsletters signal a big change in our future, and this year’s 25 feels the most important yet.
She wrote to me again when we turned 20. A new decade. A new album, and one that would meet a belated cult-following. I was listening to Melodrama when things started to fall apart and it took me a long time to get it back together. To pick up pieces, to heal the bruises. My Melodrama was more just drama, without the beautiful, glistening, glitter that she brought. My 20 was a lot of fluorescent lights, beige walls, worried looks.
As my 25 approaches, I look to Lorde, for she’s already done this. I’ve received a six-week delay and six weeks to search for guidance before I’m engulfed with the dread that comes with a quarter of a century (humans live until 100 these days, right?) We can agree that things feel more severe these days– the permanency that comes with the choices made now, being an adult and all that.
Her email left off days before her birthday as it was more of a preparative memo, sharing more Solar Power content and bracing for the impact of the day. I think it’s funny how SP looks like sunshine, glory. It sounds like the depths of something so painful and grief-filled. Sitting in a cafe and realizing you don’t quite fit in, looking at parents + their screaming children and wanting to cry, thinking about Mac Miller at least once a day. Deciding whether or not you regret everything so far.
It’s been some time, and here I use “some” to describe length of time and depth of which the time contained. Lorde’s website now has some sort of poem, describing 25 so far. Her references and formatting get lost as she weaves into literary references, and you may think I fall short just the same. I wonder if she goes to the library too. She tells me she’s been reminded of her worth, outside the standard units of measurement. I wonder if I’ll let myself believe it when it comes from her.
I’ve saved the confetti, cut my hair to the sophomore album era, looked for her walking on the weekends. I’m surprised I don’t have a tattoo yet. Maybe it’s because she’s misstepped before and it would remind me that I’ve done similar. Thinking on the times when Lorde stood out forces me to remember periods when I wept through the night, and I can only think she may have too. Cosmically connected.
“No longer a wunderkind” - I guess that’s tacked on to 25, the bulky, baiting number it is. I don’t think I’m particularly worried for the day, because it will come and go and I have already made an appointment to get another hole punched through my ear. Maybe I’ll listen to her on the walk there, maybe I’ll hear Solar Power anew, just two girls born in the year of oxycodone.
I think I might have high hopes - for both of us - but it’s so hard to see forward. Putting down roots, waiting for flowers. Trading black outfits and slate thoughts for something a little more elevated. Reluctantly returning our precociousness. I just hope we’ll be alright until the next birthday.