Today I was flipping through Facebook reading all the same shit that’s there every day. I came across an article commemorating the 10 year anniversary of Regina Spektor’s release of the album Begin to Hope. I was flooded with memories of the time in my life when Regina changed everything for me.
Ten years ago, I was 20 years old. An impromptu move to small river town Tennessee from Louisiana happened, when alcohol and drugs pushed me and my musician boyfriend out of the home we had always known. My dad came to our rescue. My dad and his 3rd, yes 3rd, wife (who isn’t stepmom anymore, might I add) let us live with them in their two bedroom cabin home on the Tennessee river. My dad was doing odds and ends jobs at the time like fixing electrical wiring and lawn mowers and shit like that around the community. He let B, my boyfriend, help him with that. We still partied. Often, most days. Just in a more controlled environment where we couldn’t get behind on bills or get arrested (cops don’t exist at the Tennessee River; it’s a free for all out there) or let anyone down again. So for about 6 months we were in this transition phase of trying to figure ourselves out and where we needed to go and what we needed to do and how to balance a life of fun with a life of responsibility. We had no idea there was no such thing for us. At this point in my life, I didn’t think my drug/alcohol use was bad yet. I thought it was something I could control and work with and around. A juggling act. So anyway, our party nights at my dad’s river cabin usually consisted of some beer, music, guitar playing and singing (badly), and riding around in golf carts. One night, my dad (ironically enough—this is a man who thinks Frank Zappa and Led Zepplin are gods) was super stoked about this music video he had seen on TV; so much so that he recorded it to show me. Low and fucking behold it was Regina Spektor’s video for “Fidelity.” I was touched in a way I can’t explain. Something about her sound moved me. Sure, this tune is poppy and girly, but she had something about her. Something I wanted myself to have. Regina was able to pull off a quirkiness that all the other singer/songerwriter/piano girls at the time (Vanessa Carlton, Sara Bareilles, and even Fiona Apple, although I love her and think she is one of the coolest chicks out there) didn’t achieve. My fascination with Regina Spektor began on that night. Her sound so mesmerizing, her lyrics moving and weird and somehow relatable. “20 Years of Snow” became a semi-theme song for me, and “Chemo Limo” still haunts me to this day. I can’t listen to “On the Radio” without picturing my best friend’s old Myspace page or listen to “That Time” without immediately being back in the middle of 95-degree heat of Bonnaroo; high and dehydrated belting out in the middle of thousands of people as Regina giggled about the massiveness of it all.
Begin to Hope marks a time in my life when shit started getting bad. A perpetual “shit gets bad now let’s try to fix it with moving or changing jobs or getting another cat or trying a different drug” until it got unmanageable. Begin to Hope reminds me of where I came from. How I was nowhere. How ugly it got. I don’t listen to this album, though, and get weird or sad. I get nostalgic. And really fucking happy. Cloud 9 happy. Happy about how far I’ve come, where I’m going, and where I don’t want to go back to.
Each of Regina Spektor’s albums plays a part in the memories I’ve made on the trek through my 20’s. Begin to Hope, though, will always hold a special little place in my heart. Here’s the track that changed it all.