My niece Gabi is 15 years old and is sort of my hero.
That sounds weird and I can’t really explain myself without telling stories that aren’t mine to tell, but I can tell you that she’s so much like me it’s a bit eerie. The difference is that instead of retreating from the world, Gabi reshapes the world to work for her. While I was writing dark, angsty poetry at her age, Gabi has skipped forward to look for the light. I sang in my bathroom so much that it drove my family nuts. Gabi taught herself the ukulele and performs original songs for strangers in parks. She sews her own clothes and costumes, and constructs elaborate dragon wings, and makes zombie sock-puppets and is quietly and unapologetically herself.
A few weeks ago I heard a song she wrote and recorded herself and it made me cry…possibly because I’m an extraordinarily proud aunt, but also because the sweet words she said were what I needed to hear…what I needed to remember. And I’m sharing her song here because maybe you need to remember too.
She didn’t have a video so she just clipped together footage from Skype sessions and homemade videos with her brother and sisters and friends, but it’s a bit perfect. If you like it, you can check out the website she made this week. I tried to convince her to sell her stuff on iTunes but she’s content to share it online for free and put out an online tip jar if you want to pitch in for ukulele strings or blank sheet music, or other musical instruments she hopes to buy and learn.
Thank you, Gabi, for reminding me of how lovely things can be.
UPDATED: I fucking love you people. Have I mentioned that? Because it’s true. Gabi was amazed at your wonderful responses. She received over $1,000 in tips (which she’s earmarked to pay for a drum kit and actual music lessons) plus help and advice from other artists. She just updated her site so you can download her music, and she’s currently in the park writing a song about this whole experience. If you want to keep up with her progress you should follow her page on Facebook right here. Thank you for being awesome. All of you.